Kentucky rifle comes up short in NCAA Championships in Akron, takes bronze


Samuel Colmar

Kentucky Wildcats fifth year Mitchell Nelson adjusts his stock during the Kentucky vs. Morehead State rifle NCAA Qualifier on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Barker Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky finished with a 4716 qualifying score. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Aaron Benjamin, Reporter

Kentucky rifle finished third in the 2023 NCAA Championships on Saturday, finishing behind the national champions Alaska-Fairbanks and runners-up TCU.

The competition was held at James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio.

Kentucky was seeking its fifth national championship win and third consecutive, winning previously in 2011, 2018, 2021 and 2022. 

As a team, fifth-year senior Richard Clark led the team with an overall score of 596 while fellow fifth-year senior Mitchell Nelson scored 595.

Gold medalist Will Shaner finished third on the team with a score of 593. 

Sophomore Allison Buesseler scored 589, placing fourth on the team, while Martin Voss shot a 583 to finish fifth on the team. 

Individually, Clark finished seventh amongst all competitors while Nelson finished not far behind him in thirteenth. Shaner finished in nineteenth while Buesseler finished as No. 34 and Voss landed in the No. 45 spot. 

Overall, Kentucky finished third, but the Cats were the fourth best team in the air rifle portion of shooting. 

“Proud of the team to really fight hard today and put up a bog score to get on the podium,” head coach Harry Mullins said in a press release.

Mullins then went on to talk more about the individuals on the team and what they had done and meant to the Kentucky program.

“I am proud of how the team progresses this season. I want to say thank you to Will, Richard and Mitchell for competing in their final matches today. They have done so much for this program, and we will miss them so much.”

Mullins did not seem too upset with the outcome, rather being happy with the placement his team received in the tough NCAA rifle season. 

“This was arguably the most competitive season in NCAA rifle history with some big team scores across the board and to finish top three is a huge accomplishment,” he said in the release.

Kentucky finished the season 8-1, with its only loss to the eventual champion Alaska-Fairbanks on Jan. 14 by a score of 4752-4726.