UK rifle defeats Memphis behind big performance from a freshman


Heather Kirby, Billy Azzinaro of the UK rifle team competes against Akron on Friday, November 4, 2016 at the Buell Armory. Photos by Britney Howard

Cody Ryan

In its final home match of the regular season, UK’s No. 3 rifle team outshot No. 16 Memphis 4686-4650 in the Buell Armory Saturday morning.

Freshman Hailee Sigmon led the way for the Cats, shooting a 596 in air rifle and a 579 in smallbore. Those are both personal bests for Sigmon. 

After the competition, Sigmon said she is working on trusting her gut and not overthinking everything.

“If I can do this in one year, imagine what I can do in four,” Sigmon said.

Sigmon finished first in the air rifle, three points ahead of second place Adrianna Hickerson of Memphis and four points ahead of Kentucky’s Billy Azzinaro.

“When she (Sigmon) came to me in high school she was an air rifle shooter,” head coach Harry Mullins said. “She’s shot air rifle a lot longer than she has shot smallbore.”

Freshmen phenom and Norway native Henrik Larsen missed Saturday’s competition because he was in Europe trying to qualify for the Olympics. Larsen has finished first in every event, and he is the No. 4 ranked collegian in air rifle.

However, the Cats had no problems in their top-25 matchup.

UK started the competition by posting a 2328 in smallbore. Cathryn Papasadora shot to the lead with a 583.

Papasadora has plenty of teammates finish behind her, as Kentucky players placed in the top five in every smallbore individual result.

“I have a great team; that’s one of the biggest reasons I came to UK,” Sigmon said. “We have a great team and we’re all family. So I think if I have them, I succeed a lot better.”

Azzinaro fired a 582 in smallbore and a 592 in air rifle.

As a result of Saturday’s competition, UK has now placed first in each of its last 10 competitions. With the NCAA Championships a little over a month away, the Cats are thinking big.

“One of our realistic goals is to get on the podium (in the NCAA tournament),” Mullins said.

The Cats will finish their regular season Feb. 11 when they travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia University.