OXFORD, Miss. – Thursday the Ole Miss rifle team received exciting news as it was announced that two shooters from its roster will perform as individuals in the 2012 NCAA Rifle Championships.
“It’s good to be back and represented at the Championships again,” Rebel head coach Valerie Boothe said.
Sophomore Abbey Stanec and senior Keely Stankey are scheduled to shoot on Saturday, March 10 at the Championships held in Columbus, Ohio. Both will be competing in air rifle.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Stanec said. “I feel like I’ve worked pretty hard, and especially in air. I lost my grandpa this year and he was the one who got me involved in shooting, so it’s been kind of a difficult year trying to get back into the swing of things. But I’m really glad that this is kind of the way to the end the season, and I’m dedicating this season to him.”
Stankey didn’t even get to watch the 4:00 NCAA selection announcement but was pleased when she heard the news.
“I’m really happy and honored that I get to represent the University of Mississippi one more time before I graduate,” Stankey said. “I was really excited with all the hard work I put in during the regular season and that it paid off.”
This will mark the first NCAA Championships appearance for Stanec, and the second for Stankey who competed as a sophomore in 2010.
The lone senior on this year’s Rebels roster, Stankey, has previously stated that the pressure of the moment caught up with her in the 2010 Championships. This year she expects to be more relaxed heading into the tournament.
“I think (Keely) learned how to shoot finals on that (2010) run,” Boothe said. “She went into finals tied for first and wound up finishing seventh. But I think that was a good experience for her, and she knows what to expect. It’s good that it’s not her first time because I think she’ll take what she applied from 2010 and carry that into this year. She’s a lot more mature in her shooting, and I think that will help her benefit the most.”
Boothe credited both shooters as essential pieces to the Rebels team success this season.
“Keely’s been pretty steady all year long,” Boothe said. “She’s been pretty even. Abbey has kind of been up and down a little bit. I think she’s finally starting to hit her stride toward the end of the season.”
While some may believe Stankey should enter the Championships at an advantage due to having already participated at NCAA’s in the past, Stankey herself doesn’t think so.
“It’s all about what you do on that one day and you never know what is going to happen,” she said. “I’m confident heading into it but I’m not saying I have an advantage.”
The Rebel duo will begin individual training and preparations for the NCAA’s following the GARC Championships this weekend.
“I’m going to put forth just as much effort as I did during the regular season,” Stanec said. “I’m not going to try to overwork it or under work it. I don’t want it to be any different or psyche myself out. I feel pretty confident with air. I don’t need to change anything, just need to make sure my mental game is on that day and it’ll all work out.”
The NCAA Championships have a maximum 48 competitors. The eights teams that qualify consist of 5 person teams. If every team uses their maximum, it takes up 40 of the 48 spots, leaving 8 spots for the individuals. Individuals are selected based on their score during the designated qualifier from highest to lowest. Once the qualifying teams are determined, all of the individuals who contributed to getting their team to the championship are taken out of the mix making up the first 40 or less slots. Then the top individuals will fill up the remaining slots. In even numbered years the advantage goes to the smallbore discipline and in odd numbered years the advantage goes to the air discipline. The first individual slot goes to the top air rifle score for the 2010 Championships. Individuals are selected alternating between the two disciplines until all 48 slots are filled.
Ohio State will host the championships, which will be held March 9-10 in Columbus, Ohio at the Converse Hall and French Field House on the Ohio State campus.
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