Rifle Qualifies for NCAA Championships, Seeded 4th

Rifle Qualifies for NCAA Championships, Seeded 4th

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky rifle team has qualified for the NCAA Rifle Championships for the 30th time in program history as the Wildcats were one of eight teams selected to compete in the 2024 championships.

The national event will take place from March 8-9 inside West Virginia University’s WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. Individual and team competition in smallbore is scheduled for Friday, March 8 while air rifle competition will be on Saturday, March 9.

Kentucky, which is currently ranked fourth nationally has won the national title four times – 2011, 2018, 2021 and 2022 – with six runner-up finishes. Last year, UK finished third overall.

“I am proud of the team for their hard work this season to qualify for the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Harry Mullins. “There are so many great teams in the country that being top eight is a huge accomplishment. We will see if we can continue to show some improvement this weekend at the GARC Championships and get some momentum leading into NCAAs. This is the fun time of year when you get to really lock in and start to compete against the best in the world.”

Last Saturday’s NCAA qualifying score was 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 – was already recorded. Last weekend’s qualifier score was added to that average and the teams with the eight highest combined scores qualified 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. Adding UK’s 4730 qualifying score, UK’s total for NCAA selection was 9464.67, which seeded the Wildcats fourth. WVU is seeded first at 9500.33 with TCU second, Air Force third and Alaska Fairbanks fifth. Ole Miss, Navy and Nebraska conclude the eight-team field.

Kentucky is averaging a 2341.25 in smallbore and 2380.58 in air rifle for a season aggregate average of 4721.83. Sophomore Sofia Ceccarello leads Kentucky this season in both smallbore average and air rifle average. She is averaging a 587.917 in smallbore and 597.75 in air rifle for an aggregate average of 1185.667. She has posted five 599 scores in air rifle this season. Fifth-year seniors Emmie Sellers and Jaden Thompson are right behind her and having good seasons. Sellers is earning 584.083 in smallbore and 593.75 in air rifle for a 1177.833 aggregate average, while Thompson is posting a 581.583 average in smallbore and 592.917 in air rifle for a 1174.500 aggregate average. Freshman Braden Peiser is earning a 583.417 in smallbore and 593.583 in air rifle for a 1177.000 aggregate. Peiser had his best match as a Wildcat last weekend, scoring career highs in both smallbore and air rifle for a 1191 aggregate. Sophomore Martin Voss is posting a 582.083 in smallbore and 589.667 in air rifle for a 1171.750 aggregate. Junior Allison Buesseler is earning a 579.417 in smallbore and 592.333 in air rifle for a 1171.750 aggregate average. Sophomore AJ Hotko and freshman Emily Marne are having good seasons. Hotko is averaging 568.625 in smallbore and 586.25 in air rifle, while Marne is earning a 559 in smallbore and 569.889 in air rifle.

Before the NCAA Championships in March, Kentucky will be back in the range this weekend at the annual GARC Championships. Competition begins Saturday, Feb. 24 in smallbore and will conclude Sunday, Feb. 25 with air rifle. Both days of competition will take place in West Point, New York. Live targets and a live NCAA Scorecard will be available online at UKathletics.com.

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

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