Kentucky claims first national title
Wildcats edge West Virginia by three points for overall title
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Behind gritty performances from veterans Heather Greathouse and Ethan Settlemires, the Kentucky rifle team won the overall national title at the 2010-11 NCAA Championships hosted by Columbus State.
After UK won the smallbore NCAA title on Friday in the first day of competition, the Wildcats held off West Virginia's charge in air rifle on Saturday to secure the first national championship in program history, finishing with a 4,700 team total score.
Kentucky entered the final day of competition on Saturday owning a seven-point lead. UK claimed its first-ever NCAA championship in smallbore on Friday, totaling a 2,336 team score, led by Settlemires and Greathouse. Settlemires won the NCAA individual championship on Friday with a 590 in smallbore, becoming the first individual NCAA champion in smallbore in program history.
The NCAA championship is the first in the storied history of the UK rifle program. Since the 1994 season, the Wildcats have finished among the top 10 teams at the national championships a total of 16 times. UK owned four runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes since 1994 entering Saturday, including a fourth-place finish in 2010.
In claiming the 2011 national championship, the Wildcats have completed a historic season, including an unbeaten regular-season slate in the Great American Rifle Conference Championships.
"I am so proud of this team," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "This was our goal from day one, to have a chance to shoot a 4,700 as a team. We knew if we did that we would be right there at the end. It is a tremendous honor to come out on top among such a great group of teams and shooters. We have had a magical season and it is surreal to be standing here at the end of the year as the national champion."
After UK got off to a tremendous start on Friday behind Greathouse's 587 on the first relay, the Wildcats again sent Greathouse in the first relay on Saturday, a change from the typical routine throughout the season. Greathouse responded under the pressure, putting up a 591 to set the tone for the Wildcats' final day of competition. Freshman Emily Holsopple contributed a 590, with Henri Junghanel charting a team-high 594.
With Settlemires on the final relay, West Virginia continued to push, using a 599 (out of 600 points possible) from world champion Nicco Campriani to narrow the UK lead. Settlemires fired a 590 in a pressure-laden situation on the final relay to push the Wildcats over the hump and claim the national title.
Kentucky's 4,700 team score was three points better than the Mountaineers, with WVU winning the air rifle national title with a 2,368 on Saturday. TCU, the 2010 NCAA champion, finished third with a 4,664 total team score. Jacksonville State (4,650), Murray State (4,634), Alaska-Fairbanks (4,634), Navy (4,609) and Army (4,596) rounded out the eight-team field.
On Friday the smallbore portion of the match was held at Fort Benning and on Saturday, Columbus State hosted the air rifle portion on campus at the Frank G. Lumpkin Jr. Center.