LEXINGTON, Ky. (7/17/14) — After collecting another top-three finish at the NCAA Championships in 2014, the University of Kentucky rifle team unveiled its 16-date schedule for the 2014-15 season Thursday afternoon, it was announced by head coach Harry Mullins, who enters his 32nd year at the helm of the Wildcats.
“I feel that our team this year is going to face many tests,” Mullins said about his schedule. “We have a strong group coming back and I think some of the new blood will bring a good dynamic to our program. This year will give some of our shooters a really good chance to shine. With many tough tests ahead of us, we will have to work very hard to stay focused on our game plan and bring our best to every match. I am very excited about getting the team back on campus and getting our season underway.”
The 2014-15 season will kick off on Oct. 11, as the Wildcats will welcome the Arkon Zips to Lexington for a match at Barker Hall to open the season. UK and Akron did not face each other in the 2013-14 season.
“This will be our first home match of the season,” Mullins said. “Akron just joined the (Great American Rifle) Conference and has made tremendous improvements in the past few years. They have a solid team returning and will be out to make a name for themselves in the conference this year. I feel that this is going to be a good test to start the season.”
After opening the season, UK will take a two-week break from competition before traveling to Annapolis, Md., to face off against the Naval Academy Oct. 25. Kentucky posted a 100-point win over Navy in 2013-14, and will look to repeat on the road in Annapolis.
“It has been many years since we have gone to Navy,” Mullins said. “It will be our first road test and Navy also in the GARC will be looking to make a big move. They will be a very young, but extremely hungry team for us to compete against.”
On Oct. 26, the day after UK faces Navy, the Wildcats will make the short hop over to Lexington, Va., to shoot against North Carolina State.
“Shooting NC State on the road with the success that they have had this past year will be another tough test. Lucas Kozeniesky is one of their best shooters and has already qualified for the junior championships this fall. I feel that they are a team on the rise and will be a tough test for us.”
After opening up the season with three-straight matchups within the GARC, Kentucky will step out of conference for the first time on Nov. 2, as the Wildcats will shoot against the UT Martin Skyhawks in Lexington.
“With a strong start, and a young group, UT Martin is making a push to etch into the top eight of the country,” Mullins said. “Dakota Faught will lead the way for them after a strong showing in both the NCAA Championships last spring and the US Rifle Championships. I feel that they will really be pushing hard to shoot a good number.”
Kentucky’s three-match homestand will continue on Nov. 7 and Nov. 9 as UK will welcome in the Murray State Racers and the Army Black Knights.
“Murry State is a team with unbelievable potential and a fantastic coach,” Mullins said. “They are young at every position and another OVC team that is fighting to get into the national rankings. Army will be out to solidify themselves in the NCAA hunt. They have a strong group of freshman and their upperclassmen have been doing a great job for them.”
After a couple of weekends off after the three-match homestand, UK will then make the 4,000 mile journey to Anchorage, Alaska to shoot two matches against Alaska-Fairbanks Nov. 21 and 22.
“Alaska Fairbanks is coming off a second-place finish in the NCAA Championships a year ago, and with their core group of shooters returning, I think they will have a tremendous team returning. UAF will be making a major push to post huge numbers this season throughout the year and they will be primed to post a great score against us.”
As the calendar flips over from 2014 to 2015, things do not get easier for the Wildcats, as UK will travel to Oxford, Miss., to face the Ole Miss Rebels Jan. 17 after the break.
“We jump right back into conference play coming back for the spring,” Mullins said. “They are in the growing phase of their program right now but will be hungry to start the spring campaign off with a solid performance.”
Kentucky will then travel the next day to face off against the Memphis Tigers for a match Jan. 18 in the Volunteer State.
“The second match of this trip is yet another test,” Mullins said. “Memphis finished fourth a season ago at the NCAA Championships and will be looking to improve on that mark this season.”
On Jan. 23, Kentucky will take part in the 2015 Withrow Invitational to be held in Murray, Ky., as UK will begin turning its attention to the later portion of its schedule.
“This is a good test for us to see where we are heading into the latter stages of our schedule. I feel that this match is always a good indicator as to where we stand getting ready to hit another tough stretch of our schedule.”
Kentucky’s six-match road streak will come to an end on Feb. 1 as the Wildcats will shoot against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio, looking to back up their 50-point road win from a year ago over OSU.
“With OSU just missing the NCAA Tournament last year and a very strong recruiting class, I think that Ohio State will be looking to make a major move this season,” Mullins said. They will pose a very tough test for us on the road.”
UK will face off against the West Virginia Mountaineers Feb. 7 in the final conference match of the 2014 season at Barker Hall in Lexington.
“Being that we are competing against West Virginia should say it all,” Mullins said about the Feb. 7 showdown in Lexington. “They are the two-time defending champions of the NCAA and with all of their starters returning, they will demand the best from our program.”
NCAA qualifiers will be held at Barker Hall in Lexington as well, two weeks after the conclusion of the regular season Feb. 21 and 22. The GARC Conference Championship will be held in Oxford, Miss., from Feb. 28-March 1.
“This will be the largest championship field to date,” Mullins said about the conference championships. “We have nine teams this year in the GARC and there will be an extremely strong field in Oxford this season, with five teams from last year’s top eight in the GARC.”
The NCAA Championships will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, and will run from March 13-14.
2014 Kentucky Rifle Schedule
- Oct. 11 - AKRON
- Oct. 25 - at Navy (Annapolis, Md.)
- Oct. 26 - at NC State (Lexington, Va.)
- Nov. 2 - UT MARTIN
- Nov. 7 - MURRAY STATE
- Nov. 9 - ARMY
- Nov. 21 - at Alaska Fairbanks (Anchorage, Alaska)
- Nov. 22 - at Alaska Fairbanks (Anchorage, Alaska)
- Jan. 17 - at Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.)
- Jan. 18 - at Memphis (Memphis, Tenn)
- Jan. 23 - Withrow Invitational (Murray, Ky.)
- Feb. 1 - at Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio)
- Feb. 7 - WEST VIRGINIA
- Feb. 21-22 - NCAA QUALIFIERS
- Feb. 28-Mar 1 - GARC Championships (Oxford, Miss.)
- March 13-14 - NCAA Championships (Anchorage, Alaska)
Information provided by UK Athletics
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