The experience gained from last year’s record-breaking season should provide a strong start for the rifle team’s season opener at the Horned Frog Invitational, the head coach said.Head coach Karen Monez said the experience this season’s group of sophomores gained as freshmen should prove beneficial. The team did not finish lower than second until their fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships – the first appearance in the program’s history.
“We’re just so much further ahead with this first competition,” Monez said. “I think we’ll start a lot stronger.”
Lauren Sullivan, a sophomore who shares the school record in the 60-shot air rifle and 60-shot smallbore competitions, said the team has been working to regain its comfort in their positions. She said high practice scores in the weeks leading up to Saturday are encouraging to say the least.
“I feel like we’re doing even better this year,” Sullivan said. “Our practice scores have been better than all of our scores last year, so hopefully that will be really promising this season.
“We’re definitely hoping for a win,” Sullivan said.
The familiarity between the Horned Frogs and the teams they are competing against this weekend, UTEP and the University of Nevada at Reno, will prove to be exciting, Sullivan said.
The squad had five meetings with UNR last season and another three meetings against UTEP.
Sophomore Erin Lorenzen said she is looking forward to Saturday’s competition and that the team should do “pretty well.” She said the team is not focusing on the pressure of trying to repeat last season’s success. Instead, the team is focusing on the “pressure that we want to do better,” Lorenzen said.
Last season’s All-Americans Sullivan, Lorenzen and sophomore Simone Riford are returning this season. Even with last year’s national recognition, Monez said there is no added pressure on the trio.
“I think they’re very capable shooters, very talented,” Monez said. “I think they expect to come back and perform even better than they did last year.