No. 7 Nebraska at Roger Withrow Open
Date: Saturday, Jan. 26 - Sunday, Jan. 27
Start Time: 8 a.m. CST
Teams Competing: Nebraska, Memphis, Ohio State, Tennessee-Martin, Columbus State, UTEP, Alabama-Birmingham
Host (Location): Murray State (Murray, Ky.)
Venue: Pat Spurgin Rifle Range
The No. 7 Nebraska rifle team will travel east this weekend to take part in the Roger Withrow Open, hosted by the Murray State Racers. The invitational began last weekend on Jan. 19 and will conclude on Jan. 26-27 with competition between seven teams. Competition is slated to begin at 8 a.m. CST both days. This year will mark Nebraska's second season competing in the Withrow Open; last year, the Huskers finished second out of eight teams.
Nebraska (8-5, 2-2 GARC) heads into the invitational looking to replicate last weekend's efforts against West Virginia, in which the Huskers fired a season-best 4,661. Teams participating in this weekend's open include NU, Memphis, Ohio State, Tennessee-Martin, Columbus State, UTEP and UAB. The match will also serve as Nebraska's dual match with Memphis in Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) competition.
Huskers Fire Season-Best Against WVU
Powered by a season-high air rifle score (2,352), the Nebraska rifle team shot its best score of the season at 4,661 last weekend against top-ranked West Virginia. Despite three career-best performances by NU air rifle competitors, WVU topped the Huskers with a 4,689 at the Mountaineer Rifle Range.
"I am so proud of the performance of this team," Head Coach Stacy Underwood said. "This sport is a game of millimeters and eventually the small improvements day-by-day yield high performances at just the right moment."
The Huskers shot above their season average in smallbore, finishing with a 2,303 against West Virginia. Senior Janine Dutton led the Huskers, firing a 580 on the morning. Following smallbore, the Mountaineers led Nebraska by a score of 2,324-2,303.
Nebraska exploded on the air rifle range, firing over ten points over their season average at 2,352. NU was paced again by seniors Dutton and Katelyn Woltersdorf, who earned identical marks of 591. Woltersdorf's effort was a career-high and key to NU's performance. Kelsey Hansen added a career-best 589 for the Big Red as well.
The Mountaineers picked up a 2,365 on the air rifle range, sealing their victory at 4,689-4,661. Nebraska's season-best team performance will be key in bolstering the Huskers' chances of qualifying for their first NCAA Championship since 2010.
Surveying the Withrow Open Field
The Huskers will face a total of six teams in this weekend's competition: Memphis, Ohio State, Tennessee-Martin, Columbus State, UTEP and UAB. NU previously saw Ohio State and UTEP in an invitational at OSU this season, holding a 3-0 total record against the two teams.
Six of the seven teams participating in the second portion of the invitational this weekend are ranking in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches' Association Top 20 this week, with seventh-ranked Nebraska and No. 9 Memphis leading the way. Other ranked teams include No. 15 Ohio State, No. 16 Tennessee-Martin, No. 18 Columbus State and No. 20 UTEP.
With GARC Championship competition on the horizon, Nebraska's participation in the Withrow Open will also count as a dual match with GARC member Memphis.
Nebraska Takes Aim at NCAA Championship Berth
With an 8-5 record and a No. 7 ranking nationally, the Nebraska rifle team is in strong position to qualify for their first NCAA Championship since 2010. Under the leadership of first-year head coach Stacy Underwood, the Huskers own a season average of 4,640.8 and a top-three score average of 4,648.7, placing them in the top eight nationally. Following a season-best 4,661 against West Virginia last week, Nebraska will continue to attempt to boost its three-score average with its final two regular season appearances in January and February.
NCAA Championship team berths are determined in a two-step process. The NCAA considers the three highest regular season combined scores with no more than one match at a given site. The average of those three scores is then added to the results of the team's performance at its NCAA Qualifying match. That number determines the teams that qualify for the championships, with the top eight squads earning a bid to shoot in Columbus, Ohio in March.
Up Next for the Huskers
The Huskers will close regular-season action in two weeks, hosting Army in Lincoln for their final match before the postseason. The Huskers and No. 5 Army will square off at the NU Rifle Range on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 8 a.m. CST. Fans unable to attend the match are invited to follow free live stats on Huskers.com.
Beginning on Feb. 17, the Big Red will open postseason action with competition at their NCAA Qualifier in Murray, Ky. NU's performance there, coupled with their three-score qualifying average, will determine whether the team will make an appearance at the NCAA Championships. NU finished third at their 2012 NCAA Qualifier, firing a 4,596 at the Alaska-Fairbanks Rifle Range.
NU will journey to Oxford, Miss. the following weekend for the GARC Championships on Feb. 22-23. NU has a breakout performance at the 2012 conference championship, posting a 4,658 to take third place behind West Virginia and Kentucky. The Huskers will try to achieve a similar result this season, squaring off against West Virginia, Kentucky, Army, Ole Miss, Memphis and NC State at the championship.
The season will close out at the NCAA Championships, held this season in Columbus, Ohio on March 8-9. Team selections will be announced on Feb. 20, with the nation's top eight squads earning bids to teh championship. The NCAA will fill out the field on Feb. 21, announcing individual qualifiers up to a total of 48 competitors (including shooters from qualifying teams).
Nebraska Up to No. 7 in CRCA Rankings
The Huskers jumped one spot to No. 7 in the latest CRCA rankings after firing a season-high 4,661 las tweekend. The rankings, which are compiled based on the top-three score average of each team, saw no movement in the top five nationally. West Virginia came in at No. 1, followed by TCU at No. 2 and Kentucky in the No. 3 position. Alaska-Fairbanks and Army rounded out the top five, coming in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. Other GARC-member teams appearing in the rankings includ No. 10 Memphis, No. 11 Mississippi and No. 14 NC State.
Freshmen Make Strides
With the regular season drawing to a close, the freshmen on the Nebraska rifle team have made strides in their first year with the Big Red. Alexandrea Lorentz, Marissa Major, Denise Martin and Magdalena Mical have all made improvements in the first part of their season and have competed for spots in the NU lineup.
Lorentz has shown her capability as an individual competitor in NU's meets this season, holding the seventh-highest average in smallbore at 567.8. A competitor from West Anchorage High School and the Borealis Bullseyes, Lorentz contributed to team finishes of second in 2010 and fifth in 2012 at the Junior Olympics in the Precision Team Championship.
Arriving at Nebraska from the Arvada Rifle and Pistol Club in Arvada, Colo., Major has continued to adjust to the competition level of collegiate rifle. She shot her best score of the season against Air Force on Nov. 17, firing a 578 in air rifle en route to a combined score of 1,145. Major finished first in the NRA Junior Three-Position Air Rifle Precision competition before joining Nebraska.
Martin has been a crucial part of Nebraska's declared competitive team, earning a pair of individual titles in the Huskers' upset of Alaska-Fairbanks early in the season. A three-time Washington state champion and a member of the USA Shooting team at the 2010 International Shooting Sports Federation Junior World Championships, Martin is Nebraska's No. 2 shooter in combined scoring average (1,158.6), air rifle (584) and smallbore (574.6).
Mical had her breakthrough performance of the season on Nov. 17 against Air Force, firing her way to marks of 578 in smallbore and 589 in air rifle for a combined total of 1,167. That score was good to give Mical her first combined title as a Husker. Mical finished first in smallbore at the 2011 Florida Junior Olympic Qualifier and was a 2011 Junior Olympic National qualifier as well as the 2010 Florida Metric Prone State Champion.
Stacy Underwood Named Nebraska Rifle Coach
The Nebraska rifle program entered a new era on May 24, 2012 as the team announced former Husker shooter Stacy Underwood as its new head coach. Underwood arrived at Nebraska after spending five years as an assistant coach under Coach Harry Mullins at Kentucky. During her time at Kentucky, Underwood helped the Wildcats to a 48-8 record and five top-five NCAA finishes. UK won the 2011 NCAA Championship while adding one GARC Championship title and two GARC regular-season crowns during Underwood's tenure. Underwood also assisted in the development of 26 All-Americans while at Kentucky.
Prior to her coaching career, Underwood competed for the Nebraska rifle team from 2003 to 2007. She was a four-year letterwinner for NU and a two-time NRA All-American. Underwood was named the GARC Senior of the Year in 2007 and also earned All-GARC honors in air rifle and combined. A team captain in 2004-05, she helped the Huskers to a third-place NCAA finish that season and a fifth-place finish in 2007.
Underwood graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2007, earning a bachelor's degree in education. She added a master's degree in kinesiology and health promotion from Kentucky in 2009.