Aug. 16, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After recording a second-consecutive smallbore national title in 2011, the University of Kentucky Rifle team and head coach Harry Mullins have set its 2012-13 schedule, it was announced Thursday.
Coming off a second-place finish in the overall team championship, UK returns All-American honoree Henri Junghänel who compiled a 585 in smallbore and 586 in last year’s air rifle championship as well as returning junior Emily Holsopple who recorded a 585 in air rifle and a team-best 587 in smallbore. Holsopple also competed in the 2012 Junior Olympics, capturing a silver medal with a two-day total of 785.
The Wildcats will head west to begin the year facing former assistant coach and current head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Stacy Underwood and her team on Oct. 13.
“This will be our first match of the season,” Mullins said. “It will be our first conference match and a great test for us. Nebraska has a solid team, and being led by Stacy Underwood, I feel that they will be hungry and looking to start the conference slate on a good note.”
Following the trip to Lincoln, Neb., the Wildcats will head home to face off against Murray State on Oct. 19, as part of a three-match homestand at Barker Hall.
“Murray is a team the just missed out on the final eight at the NCAA’s,” Mullins stated. “They will be hungry to start their season on a high note and this will be our first home match and it should be a good one.”
After Murray State, the Black Knights of Army will travel to Lexington (Oct. 21). Army finished last year ranked No. 4 in the country and placed fourth in the NCAA tournament.
“Army finished last year on a strong note, making a late charge in the NCAA Championship. They are coming off a good recruiting year and I feel they are going to make an even stronger push this year. They will be one of the teams to watch this year in our conference.” Mullins noted about Army.
In the final game of the three-game home slate, Kentucky will dual the University of Tennessee-Martin (Oct. 28).
“This is a bi-annual match against another solid team,” Mullins said. “UT-Martin out of the Ohio Valley Conference will bring their best team which is coming off a solid recruiting year and will be looking to cause some noise early in the rifle season.”
Kentucky will leave the confines of Barker Hall for a one-match road trip to the Palmetto State at The Citadel to face the Wolfpack of NC State on Nov. 3.
“This is our program’s first trip to the Citadel,” Mullins said. “It is our third conference match and our second road match of the season. The Wolfpack have been getting stronger every year and I expect them to be strong again this year.”
The Wildcats return from Charleston, S.C., to take on the Midshipman of Navy on Nov. 10.
“It has been a long time since we shot against Navy,” Mullins said. “This will be an exciting match. Navy missed making it to the NCAA’s last year and they will once again be out in full force this season. I expect this will be a great match for both teams.”
The highlight of the 2012 season might come on Nov. 17 as the former defending National Champions, TCU Horned Frogs arrive in Lexington. TCU took home the overall title with a 4676 score to the Wildcats 4661 which marked TCU’s second title in the last three years.
“Just like Navy, it had been some time since we have seen TCU in Lexington,” Noted Mullins, “They will be out to defend the NCAA Championship and have most of their starters back, along with a great recruiting class. I feel this match will be a great test for the spring season and we will have to work very hard to be ready for this test.”
Longtime rivals, Kentucky and Alaska-Fairbanks meet in Murray, Ky., for a match on Jan. 13. Alaska-Fairbanks comes into the match claiming 10-national titles but hasn’t achieved the honor since 2008.
“This will be a great start to the spring, after tying them in last year’s NCAA tournament, then winning the tiebreaker,” Mullins said, “I feel they have had a strong recruiting class and are looking to reclaim the top spot in the nation. They will be strong contenders this season and will force us to bring our best game to start off the spring.”
After the trip from Western Kentucky, the Wildcats head to Oxford, Miss., for a two-day event featuring both Ole Miss and Memphis. The first match will pit the Wildcats vs. the Tigers of Memphis on Jan. 19.
“This will be the start of the spring conference season and will be yet another test for our team. Memphis has been pushing themselves to get into the top eight and they will be out to make their mark. They have a solid team and work hard to move in the conference and the national rankings.” Mullins said of Memphis.
“They have the core of their team back and had a strong finish to last year’s conference championships,” Mullins said of facing the Ole Miss Rebels on Jan. 20. “I feel that by the spring, they will be ready to push through some of their barriers and make a run at the final eight. This will be yet another tough test for our team in moving towards post-season play.”
The final home match of the year puts Kentucky with familiar foe West Virginia on Feb. 2 as WVU brings with them a NCAA D1 leading 14 national titles. The Wildcats though finished last year ahead of the Mountaineers in the team national championships with only a 14 point differential.
“This is once again one of the biggest tests of the year,” Mullins said. “They are very strong this year and will work hard to solidify themselves as one of the top teams in the country. This will be a great match to watch.”
Following the season Kentucky will enter the NCAA Qualifier at home in Lexington on Feb. 16-17. Then they head to Ole Miss once again to compete in the Great American Rifle Conference championships on Feb. 23 and 24. Then the team will head up to the campus of Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on March 9-10 to participate in the NCAA Championships.