Feb. 16, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. – After a successful regular season, the Ole Miss rifle team travels to Lexington, Ky., Saturday to shoot an NCAA Qualifier match at the University of Kentucky’s Barker Hall.
The Rebels score from Saturday’s match will equate for 50 percent of their season average. The other 50 percent has already been completed, and came from Ole Miss’ top three regular season scores, each having to come from a different site.
“I feel very good heading in,” Rebel head coach Valerie Boothe said. “The team has been training very well. All they have to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing, nothing extra, and I think they’ll have a good weekend.”
Ole Miss enters Saturday currently ranked No. 8 in the latest CRCA poll. After this weekend, the eight teams in the nation with the highest averages will travel to Columbus, Ohio for the NCAA Championships March 8-10.
Ole Miss has one NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, which came in 2006.
“We treat every year differently,” Boothe said. “Every year that’s the goal and we just keep trying to get there. This team is not probably held to the same standard as the 06 team, but I think they’re just as good of athletes.”
The Rebels should enter Saturday with plenty of confidence. During the regular season Ole Miss upset then No. 4 Alaska-Fairbanks for the first time in school history, and most recently the Rebels set a school record in air, while also witnessing three of its shooters produce air scores over 590 in a Feb. 1 win over No. 11 Memphis.
“I think the Memphis match was a good confidence boost for our team,” sophomore Rena Goodwin said. “It shows that we don’t have to stress out. If we’re shooting a little low on one gun, we can make it up on the other.”
Earlier this season, Ole Miss faced off against No. 2 Kentucky in Lexington and the Rebel shooters believe that being familiar with the Wildcats shooting range should work to their advantage.
“I think we’ve put ourselves in a really good position heading into qualifiers,” Goodwin said. “I think once we get there, we’ll let the shots decide the outcome.”