Record Setting Day Lifts Rifle Over No. 2 Kentucky
OXFORD, Miss. – In a complete team effort, No. 3 Ole Miss rifle fired a blistering 2380 in air rifle, its top mark in school history, as the Rebels bested the defending GARC Champion and No. 2 ranked Kentucky, 4727-4713.
The top-three billing lived up to expectations as two of the nation’s top programs met up in Oxford. Ole Miss never trailed, finishing with the top smallbore and air rifle team scores. Additionally, the team score of 4727 is the second-best score ever fired by the Rebels, their best effort since posting a 4730 to open up the 2020-21 campaign.
“Everyone has been bringing a consistent effort all year, working hard and making great progress,” said head coach Marsha Beasley. “We’ve had interruptions in training and competition due to COVID isolation and quarantine, so it was great to see team members get the job done in spite of those obstacles. I’m very proud of the way the team performed today.”
With the victory, the Rebels snapped Kentucky’s 17-match winning streak dating back to the 2019 NCAA Championships, where it finished fifth overall. Ole Miss now moves to 7-0 on the season, the second-most regular-season wins in a single season in school history.
Lea Horvath led the field for the second consecutive match. The freshman broke her own program record by one point with an 1190 aggregate score. Jillian Zakrzeski and Kristen Derting also had impressive days on the range, finishing fourth and fifth overall with marks of 1180 and 1177, respectively.
The Rebels set the tone early on in smallbore as all six athletes on the first relay fired scores of 580 or better. They turned in the second-best team score in program history with a 2347 to build an 11-point advantage over the Wildcats.
It was Horvath pacing the field with a 592, outshooting Kentucky’s Mary Tucker, the nation’s top smallbore shooter, by a point. Abby Buesseler followed with the third-best score in the match, a season-high 587. Zakrzeski fired a 585, and Derting posted a 583. Claire O’Neel served as the final counter, turning in a score of 580. Not factoring into the scoring was Erin Walsh with an impressive 585 and Sophia Cuozzo with a career-high 582.
Ole Miss continued its dominance in air rifle, shattering the program record for the second time in as many days. The new mark of 2380 featured scores of 598 by Horvath, 595 from Zakrzeski, 594 by Derting and 593 from O’Neel. Additionally, Walsh fired a 590, and Buesseler rounded out the relay with a 585.
Kentucky turned in an air rifle team score of 2377, bringing its team score to 4713. The Wildcats were led by Tucker and Will Shaner, who have consistently been atop the NCAA leaderboards and are set to represent the United States in the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The duo finished second and third overall with aggregate scores of 1187 and 1185, respectively.
The Rebels will have a week off before traveling to Morgantown, West Virginia, for three matches the weekend of Jan. 30-31.
For more information on Ole Miss rifle, follow the Rebels on Facebook (OleMissRifle), Twitter (@OleMissRifle), Instagram (@OleMissRifle) and at OleMissSports.com.
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