Kentucky Earns Strong Start, Season-Opening Win vs. Morehead State
LEXINGTON, Ky. – It was a strong start to the 2023-24 season for the University of Kentucky rifle team, seeing several athletes post career-high numbers en route to a 4727-4661 dual-match victory over Morehead State on Saturday inside the UK Rifle Range in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Wildcats posted a strong 2352 in smallbore to start the match, which is one of the highest smallbore team scores on the young season nationally. UK sealed the match with a 2375 in air rifle for a 4727 total team aggregate. Morehead State posted a 2302 in smallbore and 2359 in air rifle for a 4661 team aggregate.
Individually, it was sophomore Sofia Ceccarello who led all performers with a 1190 aggregate, posting a 591 in smallbore and 599 in air rifle. It was the ninth time in her 14 collegiate matches that she has recorded a 599 in air rifle. Fifth-year senior Emmie Sellers tied a career high in smallbore and was just off her career high in air rifle to put together a strong match. Fellow fifth-year Jaden Thompson posted a 585 in smallbore and set a new career high in air rifle with a 596, tying her career-high aggregate score of 1181.
“Today was a very good start to the season for us,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “I am proud of some things that we saw today and how we battled through some adversity as well. Another great performance by Sofia and it was great to see Jaden and Emmie both have really strong matches in both smallbore and air rifle. We know we have a lot of improvements to make and it will be good to see how the team does in training the next two weeks before we go to Navy later this month.”
Kentucky started the match with a strong performance in smallbore, earning a 2352 team score, which was just eight points off the school-record smallbore team score of 2360. The strong opening-match score is the third highest smallbore team score in the country this season. Ceccarello was the top performer, earning a 591, including a 199 in kneeling and 199 in prone. Freshman Braden Peiser started his collegiate career off strong with a 590 in smallbore, posting a 199 in prone. Sellers tied her career high in the discipline with a 586, shooting a perfect 200 in prone. Thompson also posted a perfect 200 in prone and scored a 585 to wrap up the UK scoring. Sophomore Martin Voss and junior Allison Buesseler were also on the first relay and performed well. Voss scored a 582, while Buesseler earned a 578. Sophomore AJ Hotko and freshman Emily Marne were in the second relay and posted a 557 and 556, respectively.
UK started its season with a strong air rifle performance as well, earning a 2375. It was again Ceccarello who paced the Wildcats with a 599. Thompson posted a 596 in air rifle, which was good for a new career high. Sellers was just two points off her career high with a 594, while Buesseler wrapped up the scoring with a 586. Peiser, who was in the countable five, scored a 584, while Voss wrapped up the first relay with a 591. In the second relay, Hotko posted a 584 and Marne a 566.
Saturday was the first of seven matches for Kentucky this fall and the first of four home matches inside Barker Hall. UK will compete again Saturday, Oct. 28 at Navy and then return home for three straight matches starting Nov. 3 vs. Akron, Nov. 5 vs. Ole Miss and Nov. 11 vs. Memphis. The fall schedule will conclude with a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, competing against Akron on Nov. 18 and Alaska and Akron on Nov. 19.