Peiser Wins Air Rifle Gold, Kentucky Finishes 2nd Overall

Peiser Wins Air Rifle Gold, Kentucky Finishes 2nd Overall

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Braden Peiser capped off a dominant weekend in the range by earning the Great America Rifle Conference Air Rifle Individual Gold, finishing the weekend as the top overall individual performer as the University of Kentucky rifle team finished second overall at the 2024 GARC Championships in West Point, New York.

Peiser, fifth-year senior Emmie Sellers and sophomore Sofia Ceccarello all made the air rifle individual final, but it was Peiser that stole the show. The rookie was on target the entire final, finishing with a score of 253.4, which was 3.4 points better than the second-place finisher. Sellers finished the individual final in sixth, while Ceccarello earned a fifth-place finish.

The gold medal was the finishing touch to an incredible weekend for Peiser, who set a career high and new range record in smallbore with a 597 score Saturday. Peiser was the top individual performer of the event, earning a new career-best aggregate score of 1194 after earning 597s in both disciplines. On top of finishing with the top smallbore score of the weekend, he was tied for sixth for the top air rifle score. Sellers had the 10th-best aggregate score of the weekend at 1182. Her 599 air rifle score was the second-best of the championships.

Kentucky posted a 2387 as a team in air rifle Sunday, which was its second-best air rifle team score of the season. From top to bottom, the UK lineup performed well in the discipline. Sellers led the way earning a new career high in air rifle with a 599. Ceccarello posted a 598 to continue her impressive air rifle season, while Peiser posted a 597, which is one off his career best mark. To wrap up the UK countable lineup, junior Allison Buesseler and fifth-year senior Jaden Thompson each posted 593s.

Kentucky posted a smallbore team score of 2350 on Saturday, which was its third-best smallbore team score the season. Peiser was the star for Kentucky on Saturday, posting a career-best 597 smallbore score to earn a spot in the individual final, where he finished in third place.

The two-day event was hosted by Army inside the Tronsrue Marksmanship Center. Saturday mainly featured smallbore competition, while Sunday was focused on air rifle. WVU won the championship title with a team aggregate of 4759, while Ole Miss was third at 4717, Memphis fourth at 4714, Navy fifth at 4703, Akron sixth at 4701 and Army seventh at 4683.

“What a weekend for Braden and so proud of his hard work seeing it translate to the range the last few weeks. He was just in a groove in the final and put together a dominating performance that was fun to watch. Overall, a good weekend for our team and happy with the progress we have made over the last couple of weeks,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “Posting a 4737 is a very good score and we will need to do that and more at NCAAs if we want to get on the podium. We have two weeks to fine tune some things and get ready for that event and I am looking forward to being back in the range with the team. This is a great group to be around.”

Next up for Kentucky is the 2024 NCAA Rifle Championships as the Wildcats will be making third 30th appearance in program history in the annual event. UK was 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.

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

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