The reigning National Champion Kentucky rifle team started out their 2021-22 season with a victory over Morehead State 4680-4658 last Saturday.

Kentucky posted a score of 2330 in smallbore and 2350 in air rifle led by senior Richard Clark’s 586 in smallbore and 590 in air rifle for an aggregate of 1176 — finishing first in small bore and third in air rifle. Junior Jaden Thompson also had an impressive start to her season with a score of 585 in smallbore and 587 in air rifle for a 1172 aggregate — good enough for her to finish second in air rifle. Junior Emmie Sellers finished with an aggregate score of 1167 with a 581 in smallbore and 586 in air rifle. Seniors Mitchell Nelson and Mason Hamilton earned a 1165 and 1163 aggregate, respectively.

Morehead State shot a 2296 in smallbore and 2362 in air rifle led by Bryce Ward’s 582 in smallbore and 592 in air rifle for an aggregate of 1174. Fellow Eagle Erin Diehl scored a 574 in smallbore and 592 in air rifle for a 1166 total.

“Overall, not a bad day today,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “I think we saw some good things, but obviously there are things we need to work on. We’ve got to get better at our decision making and executing some shots down the stretch. I think we showed a lot of promise with where we are at, but the numbers are obviously lower than what we are used to shooting. We have the talent to iron things out and get the numbers where we want them to be when we get back in action later this month against Navy.”

Three newcomers had standout performances in their first competition as Wildcats, too. Allison Buesseler scored an 1160 aggregate (576 in smallbore, 584 in air rifle). Tori Kopelen scored a 576 in smallbore and 580 in air rifle, and Kayla Kalenza totaled a 563 in smallbore and 578 in air rifle for an 1141 aggregate.

“Overall, lots of potential, and I will take responsibility for us not being as sharp in air gun,” Mullins said. “I don’t think we were ready to shoot smallbore and air gun back-to-back in a match like that, but we will work on it and have it fixed moving forward.”

Kentucky will have the next two weeks off from competition before hitting the road for their second competition of the season against Navy on Oct. 30. Their first home competition is scheduled for Nov. 6 against Ole Miss.