Wildcats Look to Regroup, Host NCAA Qualifier Saturday

Wildcats Look to Regroup, Host NCAA Qualifier Saturday

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the final time this season, the University of Kentucky rifle team will compete inside Barker Hall as it hosts a NCAA Qualifier with Morehead State on Saturday.

Spectators are invited to watch smallbore scores up in Barker Hall and enjoy free breakfast starting at 9 a.m. ET. The range will be open to spectators for air rifle. Admission is free.

Kentucky will honor two fifth-year seniors following the air rifle relay on Saturday. Fifth-year seniors Emmie Sellers and Jaden Thompson will be honored for their hard work and dedication to the UK program at approx. 11:30 a.m. ET inside the UK Rifle Range.

Sellers and Thompson have been a mainstay for the UK program the last five years, leading UK to two National Championships, four Great America Rifle Conference Regular-Season Championships and two GARC Tournament Championships. Sellers has set career high marks in smallbore and air rifle this season, while Thompson has tied her career high in smallbore and set a new air rifle career high this year.

“Looking forward to competing at home one more time this season and honor Emmie and Jaden for all they have done for our program,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “Emmie and Jaden have been such a huge part of our program the last few years and I hope we can send them out on a high note this weekend. We talked after last weekend about fixing some of the leaks we had and getting better. Hopefully, we have done that this week and can begin postseason competition in strong fashion.”

Saturday’s NCAA qualifying score will be the last factor determining the field for the 2024 NCAA Rifle Championships. Each team’s three score aggregate average – the score based on each team’s highest three regular season scores fired at three different locations – has already been recorded. This weekend’s qualifier score will be added to that average. The teams with the eight highest combined scores will qualify for the NCAA Championship.

UK’s three scores it will count as part of its NCAA Qualifying score are its 4745 in Alaska, an impressive 4732 fired at Army and its 4727 vs. Morehead State in the season opener. The impressive scores currently place UK third in the NCAA qualifying standings at 4734.67 with WVU first at 4749.33 and TCU second at 4741.67.

Sophomore Sofia Ceccarello leads Kentucky this season in both smallbore average and air rifle average. She is averaging a 578.818 in smallbore and 597.818 in air rifle for an aggregate average of 1185.636. She has posted five 599 scores in air rifle this season. Sellers and Thompson are right behind her and having good seasons. Sellers is earning 583.909 in smallbore and 593.636 in air rifle for a 1177.545 aggregate average, while Thompson is posting a 581.818 average in smallbore and 592.818 in air rifle for a 1174.636 aggregate average. Freshman Braden Peiser is earning a 582.545 in smallbore and 593.182 in air rifle for a 1175.727 aggregate, while sophomore Martin Voss is posting a 582.455 in smallbore and 589.727 in air rifle for a 1172.182 aggregate. Junior Allison Buesseler is earning a 579.727 in smallbore and 592.273 in air rifle for a 1172 aggregate average. Sophomore AJ Hotko and freshman Emily Marne will compete Friday. Hotko is averaging 568.625 in smallbore and 586.25 in air rifle, while Marne is earning a 558.125 in smallbore and 569.875 in air rifle.

Morehead State is currently 16th in the NCAA Qualifying Standings and enters the qualifier averaging a 2311.91 in smallbore and 2355 in air rifle for an aggregate average of 4666.91. Adrianna Beard leads the team with a 578.727 smallbore average and 588 air rifle average for a 1166.727 aggregate.

For more information on the Kentucky rifle team, visit UKathletics.com or follow UKRifle on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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