Huskers Shine in Underwood's First Season
The Nebraska rifle team entered a new era of competition in the 2012-13 season when first-year head coach Stacy Underwood took the helm of the storied Husker program. A former Husker standout on the rifle range, Underwood brought her philosophy of giving “just one percent more” to an NU squad that had missed NCAA qualification two seasons in a row.
The Huskers responded in a big way to Underwood’s leadership, finishing the season with an overall record of 24-15 and a 20-6 mark in the regular season. The team doubled their win total from the previous season (10-15-1) while increasing their season combined scoring average to 4,641 points per match—nearly 30 points higher than the 2011-12 season.
The Big Red opened the season with a pair of statement wins, defeating NC State and top-five squad Alaska-Fairbanks at home for a 2-0 start in October. NU encountered an early battle with Alaska-Fairbanks in their second match of 2012. The squads tied with identical scores of 4,641 on the day, but the Huskers won the tiebreak by a 255-249 margin to secure the victory. Freshman Denise Martin won a pair of individual air rifle titles in the two matches, while Woltersdorf was the squad’s top smallbore shooter between both days.
NU returned to the range one week later for an early season test against Kentucky. The Huskers recorded a new season-high score of 4,643 but were unable to overcome the Wildcats, who earned a 4,666 on the day. Sunny Russell led NU with a career-best 581 in smallbore, while Dutton became the first Husker of the season to equal the 590 mark on the air rifle range. The squad followed up the next weekend with their third win of the season, a 4,641-4,621 victory over Ole Miss. Dutton snagged top honors in air rifle and combined shooting.
The Huskers took two weeks off from competition before traveling to Columbus, Ohio for a pair of quad matches at Ohio State. NU notched a second-place performance on Nov. 10, earning a 4,642 to finish behind TCU (4,708) and ahead of Nevada and Ohio State. Dutton led Nebraska to a first-place showing the next day, topping the field in smallbore and combined shooting as the Huskers earned a 4,639.
Air Force came to Lincoln for Nebraska’s final match of the fall season on Nov. 17. Although Dutton took home the smallbore title and freshman Magdalena Mical was named combined champion, the Huskers fired their lowest output of the season in a 4,622-4,650 loss to the Falcons.
A mid-season break and some extra training aided the Huskers when they returned to the range in January. Although NU fell in consecutive matches against Air Force and West Virginia, the squad earned two of their highest scores of the season. Most notable was NU’s effort against West Virginia on Jan. 19, when the Big Red fired its best score of the 2013 season at 4,661. Dutton posted scores of 580 in smallbore and 591 in air rifle, while Woltersdorf added an identical 591 in air rifle to help lead the Huskers.
Nebraska followed up with a strong showing at the annual Roger Withrow Invitational, hosted by Murray State University. The Huskers posted a 4,639 to lead both weekends of competition and earn a first-place finish in the eight team field. Senior Joyce Kim paced the Big Red with a meet-best 582 on the smallbore range, earning her an individual title. NU wrapped up their regular season two weeks later, falling to Army at home by a final margin of 4,645-4,631.
NCAA Qualifier action opened postseason competition for the rifle team on Feb. 17. Ranked eighth nationally entering the weekend, the Huskers needed a solid performance to secure a spot in the eight team NCAA Championship field. The 2013 squad delivered, earning one of its top efforts of the season at 4,650 to finish second behind Jacksonville State. Just three days later, NU officially earned a berth in the national championship competition for the first time since 2010.
The Huskers followed up with a stellar outing at the GARC Championships on Feb. 22-24, capturing a 4,647 to finish third behind eventual national champion West Virginia (4,705) and runner-up Kentucky (4,690). Martin and Woltersdorf shone on the smallbore range, earning identical scores of 580, while junior ReAnn Wilson posted a career-high 589 in air rifle.
NU closed the 2012-13 campaign at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio on March 8-9. The Huskers shot on par with their season average at 4,643 to notch a seventh-place finish overall. West Virginia took top honors at the meet with a mark of 4,679, while Kentucky finished second with a 4,670.
Martin shattered her career-high on the smallbore range, firing her way to a 583 and a berth in the NCAA smallbore finals. The freshman posted a 680.9 to finish fifth overall, the highest for a Husker smallbore competitor since Kristina Fehlings in 2005.
Katelyn Woltersdorf added a 590 in air rifle competition, locking her in a three-way tie for a spot in the discipline final. She earned a 52 to advance out of the shoot-off and participate in the finals, where she posted a score of 103.5 to finish sixth nationally in the event.
NU hauled home multiple honors in the postseason, including a pair of Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) awards for seniors Janine Dutton and Katelyn Woltersdorf. Dutton was a second-team All-GARC selection in air rifle and earned honorable mention laurels in combined shooting, while Woltersdorf was an honorable mention pick in smallbore. Underwood was also voted GARC Coach-of-the-Year by fellow conference coaches after leading the resurgent Nebraska program throughout the season.