Photo courtesy UTEP Rifle team
The UTEP rifle team will host its final match of the season when it faces Nevada in its 2018 NCAA Qualifier match at the UTEP Rifle Range Saturday. The UTEP Rifle Range is located inside the Military Science Building. Admission is free.
The match begins with smallbore starting at 8:30 a.m. followed by air rifle at 11:15 a.m. Additionally as part of UTEP’s celebration of Nationals Girls and Women In Sports Day there will be the annual brunch with the UTEP rifle team at 11 a.m. on the range.
The NCAA Qualifier match is the final deciding factor for which eight teams will head to the 2018 NCAA Rifle Championships hosted by The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., from March 9-10. The youth-laden UTEP team is currently ranked 20th. For squads that do not receive a championship bit, it is an opportunity for student-athletes to qualify individually for the smallbore and air rifle events.
“The NCAA Qualifier is a tough match as most of our athletes have waited all season for this match in particular,” UTEP head coach Hannah Muegge said. “In order to get that individual nomination for championships, you have to be at the top of your game so this weekend’s test will be about overcoming that anticipation and self-imposed pressure.”
Highlighting the Miners will be sophomore Bailey Powell, who will compete after battling an illness during the 2018 Patriot Rifle Conference Championships. She paces the Miners in seasonal averages for smallbore (572), air rifle (588) and aggregate (1160). Powell has produced the top aggregate score in eight of her nine matches this year.
Freshman Jessica Boyce enters this weekend with momentum, having led the Orange and Blue in both air rifle (587) and aggregate (1153) at the league championships. The effort in air rifle established a career high while she was one point back of matching her personal-best aggregate.
Sophomore Abby Monique has averaged an aggregate of 1143 this season. She has shot team-highs in smallbore the past two matches and her smallbore average (567) trails only Powell.
Junior Maranda Nelson has set her career highs for smallbore (575), air rifle (588) and aggregate (1152) this season. Overall she has recorded an aggregate average of 1137.
Sophomore Mara Rouse has an aggregate average of 1135 this year, but she fired a season-high 1149 in a triangular at Air Force and vs. Alaska Fairbanks on Feb. 2.
Freshman Samantha Miller is also rounding into form, having fired a personal-best 579 in air rifle last time out at the Patriot Rifle Championships. For the year she has an average aggregate of 1125, aided by a campaign-high 1140 vs. UT-Martin on Oct. 21, 2017.
“This season we may not have finished quite where we had liked to in the rankings however this team has gained valuable experience and made tremendous progress throughout the year,” Muegge said. “We’re a young team and anytime you have a young team there is going to be a learning curve.”
Overall as a team the Miners produced their highest aggregate (4626-vs. UT-Martin-10/21/17) at the school since the 2011-12 campaign. The score of 2309 in smalbore that day tied for eighth all-time at UTEP.
“We’ve made it to the final stretch of our season and the team has their sights set to finish on a high note,” Muegge said. “I’m very proud of the individual successes that we’ve had on the range this season. I cannot begin to express how impressed I am by this team’s match-day demeanor and the hard work they have put in both on the range and in the classroom. Regardless of outcome this weekend, it’s going to be a good match.”
Live results will be available on match day at http://results.megalink.no/#/univ–texas-el-paso