UK rifle2 300Fairbanks, Alaska (11/28/13) - Looking to bounce back from its first loss of the year on Saturday, the University of Kentucky rifle team improved its aggregate score by 18 points on Sunday but fell to the second-ranked Nanooks of Alaska-Fairbanks 4695-4689 Sunday afternoon at the E.F. Horton Rifle Range.

"We asked the team to respond after yesterday and I think they did," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "They definitely raised the level of intensity and I think they performed well. The freshmen did an outstanding job, hung in there and had some really strong performances. You have to tip your hat to Alaska."

Alaska-Fairbanks claimed an early lead in kneeling but the Wildcats hung close throughout prone and standing, trailing 2325-2322 at the conclusion of smallbore.

Senior Emily Holsopple improved seven points on Saturday's smallbore score, leading the squad with a 586 in the first event. Freshmen Heather Kirby and Sonya May held steady for the Wildcats in smallbore, shooting a 580 and 579, respectively.

Senior Aaron Holsopple's 577 pulled the UK score up to 2322. Juniors Cody Manning and Elijah Ellis posted a 570 and 571, respectively.

Trailing by three heading into air rifle, Kentucky hoped to put together a comeback effort in the final event.

With three shooters breaking 590 in air rifle, the Wildcats delivered a 2367 but Alaska-Fairbanks' three shooters above 593 eclipsed Kentucky's air rifle score with a 2370.

Sophomore Connor Davis boasted Kentucky's top air rifle performance, shooting his fourth 595 in seven matches this year.

Kirby continued her strong showing on the trip as she set a new personal best in air rifle with a 593. Ellis also boosted the Wildcats' score with a 591, a season high for Ellis.

As the final two counters, May and Emily Holsopple each shot a 588

"I felt like we came out of the gate really well in air rifle and lost some points at the end," Mullins said. "The work ethic is definitely there but in our game when you push hard, sometimes you push too hard and finding balance is a key to success. I think we're pushing hard right now and I think once we get our balance we'll see some really good numbers like we've seen in the past few years."

The match closes out the fall season for the Wildcats, with UK set to return to action Jan. 11 at Ohio State.

"I think we learned a lot about who we are, what we have to do and from that aspect I think this trip will pay huge dividends for the future," Mullins said. "Even though we didn't peak like we wanted to I think we're definitely going into the break with a lot of things to think about but in the same note we can definitely be proud of what we've done this fall and if we continue to work we can see some good numbers in the spring."

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Posted on 2/2/14
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