March 8, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A year after winning the first national championship in program history, the Kentucky rifle team heads to Columbus, Ohio, to defend its crown at the 2011-12 NCAA Championships, hosted by Ohio State University on Friday and Saturday at Converse Hall and French Field House.
“It is hard to come up with one term to describe how we felt,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “We are very excited for our student-athletes. They have worked so hard to put themselves in this position to see success at the end of the season. Now we just have to work individually to put up a number that as the team needs to have a championship. We have to stay within ourselves and perform at a level that we know we can and trust in each other.”
Kentucky (11-1, 6-0 Great American Rifle Conference) will begin its title defense on Friday, as smallbore will be held on Friday at Converse Hall and air rifle on Saturday at the French Field House.
“This all started in August and September in practice and the attitude that everyone has brought to the range every day,” Mullins said. “It has been great throughout the course of the season. Everyone has had some hiccups but that comradery and faith that this team has had in each other has been special. Everyone has done their share and that is our goal. That was key to our success last year and we have to come in and brace ourselves, go in and do our job to the best of our ability and see where we end up in the finish.”
The Wildcats are joined by Alaska-Fairbanks, Army, Jacksonville State, Nevada, UTEP, TCU and West Virginia at the championships.
UK will send Katie Fretts as an individual competitor, in addition to the starting lineup up Henri Junghänel, Emily Holsopple, Ethan Settlemires, Heather Greathouse and Stacy Wheatley.
Last year, UK used a national championship from Settlemires to propel the Wildcats to their first ever NCAA Championship. UK finished with a 4700 overall team score, which set a new NCAA record in the championship effort.
“I think there are some jitters and nervousness going into it,” UK assistant coach Stacy Underwood said. “It is the time of year that everyone wants to perform. We have had some confidence on the range throughout the year and when we get up to Columbus there will be some nerves that will turn into focus. No one person has to be a superstar, they just have to be together and support each other.”
The top eight teams in both the smallbore three-position and air rifle events were selected based on the average of the three highest regular-season aggregate scores with no more than one match at any given site. The average of the three highest scores was added to the aggregate scores from the designated qualifiers to determine the top eight teams.
A total of 48 competitors will compete in the championships, with 40 competitors coming from team rosters submitted by the eight teams. The remaining eight competitors were selected based on the scores submitted from the designated qualifiers.
Results will be posted after each session at NCAA.com. Fans can also watch a live stream of the competitions provided by Turner broadcasting online at www.ncaa.com/sports/rifle/dl or follow live results from the competition at www.NCAA.com.