No. 3 Kentucky Hosts No. 1 TCU
Nov. 16, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky rifle team plays host to top-ranked TCU Saturday morning at 8 a.m. in a showdown of undefeated, top-three teams.
"I think it's exciting," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "When you only have 11 matches a year every one is exciting. The team may look at this as a little bit tougher test than some of the ones in the past considering we are going to compare our numbers at the end against the No. 1 team."
TCU comes to town with a perfect record on the year, winning two matches head-to-head and taking first in three invitationals. The Horned Frogs have produced high numbers early in the season, breaking the 4700 mark three times.
"TCU is a very quality program, they definitely deserve the No. 1 ranking with the performances they've had so far this year," Mullins said. "They've been shooting in the 4700 range more than not. I think it's definitely going to be a test for us."
Kentucky's lineup features familiar faces, including seniors Henri Junghänel and Heather Greathouse, junior Emily Holsopple, sophomore Elijah Ellis and freshman Connor Davis in smallbore. The Wildcats air rifle counters will feature Junghänel, Greathouse, Emily Holsopple, Davis and senior Stacy Wheatley.
"I'm confident in how our team will perform," Mullins said. "Henri has done a tremendous job thus far, putting up strong smallbore and air rifle numbers. Emily has delivered consistent, solid numbers throughout the year. She has proved she can break 590 in smallbore and consistently shoot north of 590 in air rifle. Stacy and Heather have both contributed with good air rifle numbers and Connor has been solid in both guns."
The No. 1 ranked team boasts top-level experience with three of its top shooters being seniors. Senior Sarah Scherer is entering the weekend following a record-setting performance last weekend in the Horned Frogs' win over Ohio State. Scherer set the new NCAA record with an aggregate score of 1195.
"They are very senior heavy; they have Sarah Scherer who has done a great job for them this year, setting NCAA record after NCAA record," Mullins said. "Sarah Beard has been producing top scores as well, and Caitlin Morrissey contributing along with a good supporting cast."
Mullins is confident that Kentucky's shooters have the ability to matchup with TCU's front end.
"I think overall the test will definitely be one of nerves," Mullins said. "If I was someone kind of looking back at this and just looking at statistics, I would say the supporting cast has a lot to do with the outcome. Our top three shooters match up well against each other, not necessarily one on one but when you add the total scores up between what the three can produce."
The head-to-head battle will create pressure that neither team has yet to see. Recognizing the competitor's ability to break 4700 develops a sense of pressure for the counters on both teams.
"The big factor is going to be a test of who is going to be able to handle the pressure better," Mullins said. "In our sport, a lot of the pressure is what you bring and how you act within the environment. I think our guys have been working really hard to learn how to work in the environment that's given to you. I think we'll pass our test and be able to produce a good number. That's the good part, the bad part is we can't play defense. If they also do well and happen to shoot a higher number, hats off to them, that's a great accomplishment. We'll see them in the future.
With that being said, I think this is probably a test for them. This will be the first time they'll shoot against a team that has broken 4700 throughout the course of the year and has strong potential."
"The good news is, we'll get to see each other again regardless of the outcome of this match," Mullins said. "What we learn from this match, regardless of how it turns out I think will play big in how we perform at the NCAA Championships."
"One of the exciting things about going against a top team is that we train all year to perform under pressure and sometimes the kids don't feel as much pressure because not every team is shooting 4700s right now but we are a 4700 team," UK assistant coach Amy Sowash said. "We've had some great scores this year and I think having the opportunity to test themselves against the course and feel that energy for a couple hours is what prepares them for NCAAs."
Live scoring of Sunday's top-three showdown will be available on UKRifle.com.
Game Day Information
Programs will be available for fans to help with terminology, rules and scoring with staff also on hand to answer questions relative to the event and program.
A live stream will be shown upstairs in the armory for the duration of the match while fans will be able to receive a range pass to experience 10-15 minutes of live, on-the-rang viewing of the competition.
Timeline of Events