Kentucky rifle wins GARC team championship


Kentucky Rifle

Aaron Benjamin

Kentucky rifle competed against eight other teams in the Great American Rifle Championships, tallying the highest point total, winning the title.

Teams competing included West Virginia, Navy, Ole Miss, Memphis, Akron, North Carolina State,Kentucky and Army, who hosted the event in West Point, New York. The competition started on Friday and wrapped up Saturday morning.  

Starting off Friday was the smallbore relays. Kentucky’s Mary Tucker led the field with a score of 593. Navy’s Marleigh Duncan, Ole Miss’ Lea Horvath, West Virginia’s Tal Engler, and Kentucky’s Allison Buesseler rounded out the top fiveSitting in 10th in the smallbore relays was senior Richard Clark. 

Other Cats in the field of 69 included men’s 10m air rifle Olympic gold medalist Will Shaner placing just outside the top dozen at 13, junior Mason Hamilton, placing at 17, Charleston, West Virginia native Mitchell Nelson right behind Hamilton at 18, freshman Kayla Kalenza at 21, 2020-21 All-GARC Scholar Athlete of the Year Jaden Thompson coming in at 41, freshman Tori Kopelen, who finished ten spots behind Kopelen at 51, and finally junior Emmie Sellers, who rounded out UK’s involvement at 55.  

Early Saturday morning, the competition was back on as the focus was transitioned to the air rifle portion of the shooting. Leading the field this time was WVU’s Akihito Shimizu with 599, followed by Claire O’Neel of the Ole Miss Rebels who also had 599, followed by the Wildcat duo of Buesseler and Shaner occupying the third and fourth spots both scoring 598. 

The rest of the top 10 consisted of Angeline Henry of Memphis with 597, Akron’s Gavin Perkowski with 597 followed by a pair of WVU Mountaineers in Calista Smoyer and Jared Eddy, joined by Kentucky’s Sellers who all received a score of 596.  

Smallbore leader Mary Tucker would come in at 15 with 594 points, followed by other Cats Clark at 19 with 593, Thompson at 27 with 592, Kalenza at 33 with 590, Hamilton at 50 with 586, and rounding out the Cats would be Kopelen at 57, totaling 584 points in the competition.  

Individually, Kentucky would hold the top two spots overall. Those spots would be held the UK duo of Tucker and Buesseler who totaled 1187 points over the course of the two-day event.  

Engler and Shimizu of WVU would take fourth and fifth, Duncan would go fifth, Horvath sixth, Navy’s Michael Zanti seventh, Henry eighth, Shaner ninth, and Smoyer rounding out the top ten.  

Coming behind the UK in the overall standings would be in this order West Virginia, Ole Miss, Navy, Akron, Army, Memphis and North Carolina State.  

Up nextthe Wildcats will take a break before heading west to Colorado Springs, Colorado, the site of the 2022 NCAA Rifle Championships. The championships are scheduled to be held on March 11 and 12 in Clune Arena on Air Force’s campus.