No. 7 Nebraska vs. No. 9 Air Force
Date: Saturday, Jan. 12
Start Time: 8 a.m. CST
Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Venue: NU Rifle Range
The seventh-ranked Nebraska rifle team opens the second half of their season this weekend in Lincoln, hosting a match against No. 9 Air Force on Jan. 12 at 8 a.m. CST. The Huskers will look to bounce back in the rematch after falling to the Falcons in November by a score of 4,650-4,622. NU will have the advantage of competing in their home range this weekend, hosting Air Force at the NU Rifle Range.
NU boasts a 19-6 all-time advantage against Air Force and will aim for their 20th win in the series this weekend. AFA is in its sixth season under former Nebraska head coach Launi Meili.
The Huskers sit at 8-3 at the midpoint of their season, with two of those losses coming from top-five teams (No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Kentucky). NU will look to make a strong push in the second half of their 2012-13 campaign as they aim to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2010.
Scouting the Air Force Academy Falcons
Head Coach: Launi Meili (Sixth Year)
2012-13 High Score: 4,650 (vs. Nebraska, 11/17/12)
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A
The Air Force Falcons hold a 1-0 advantage over the Huskers after toppling NU 4,650-4,622 on Nov. 17. The Falcons won the All-Service Academies President's Cup for the first time in 12 years in November, firing a 4,639 to defeat Army, Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. Air Force holds additional wins over UTEP, Ohio State and Akron this season, bringing them to a record of 10-4 and a ninth-place national ranking. Head Coach Launi Meili is in her sixth season at the helm of the Air Force program.
Huskers Fall Short Against Air Force
The Nebraska rifle team came up short against Air Force in their final match of 2012 on Nov. 11, falling by a score of 4,650-4,622. The Huskers (8-3, 2-1 GARC) scored their lowest output of the season against the Falcons (10-4) in the loss.
Senior Janine Dutton led NU's declared team competitors in both disciplines, firing a 581 in smallbore and a 586 in air rifle. Freshman Magdalena Mical posted career-bests in air rifle (589) and smallbore (578) to lead all competitors in combined competition.
The Huskers began the day on the smallbore range, finishing with a team total of 2,293 points. Dutton's mark of 581 led Nebraska's declared team, with Denise Martin adding a 574 and Katelyn Woltersdorf picking up a 573. Air Force led the Huskers after the first discipline, posting a score of 2,303.
Nebraska displayed uncharacteristic struggles on the air rifle range as the day continued. NU totaled 2,329 points on the afternoon, nearly 10 points below their season average in the discipline. Dutton's 586 was tops for Nebraska's declared competitors, followed by a 585 by Sunny Russell and 581 from Kelsey Hansen.
Air Force wrapped up their season-best performance with a score of 2,347 on the air rifle range, bringing their final score to 4,650. The Huskers finished with 4,622 points on the afternoon.
Nebraska Takes Aim at NCAA Championship Berth
With an 8-3 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 4,637.6 and a top-three score average of 4,642, placing them in the top eight nationally. NU will look for at least one more strong performances this winter to boost their three-score average before their NCAA Qualifier on Feb. 17.
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 teams earning a bid to shoot in Columbus, Ohio in March.
Dutton Firing Way to Top-Notch Season
Now at the halfway mark of her final season at Nebraska, Janine Dutton is putting together her finest season yet with the Huskers. The Eagle River, Alaska native has five individual titles to her name this season and is shooting well above her career averages in both disciplines. Particularly notable is Dutton's performance in smallbore: the senior is averaging a score of 576.9 in the discipline, over ten points above her career average prior to this season. A two-time NRA Honorable Mention All-American in air rifle, Dutton's season average of 587.6 in the discipline is over two points above her career average as well.
Freshmen Make Strides
With half of a season of competition under their belts, 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 fifth-highest average in smallbore at 568.3. 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 (1,158.9) and air rifle (584.7). Martin became only the second Husker this season to break the 590 mark in air rifle on Nov. 11 at Ohio State.
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.
Nebraska No. 7 at Intersession Break
Nebraska earned a No. 7 national ranking in the CRCA rankings, released during the 2012 intersession break. The rankings were compiled based on the average of the top three scores submitted to the CRCA. The 8-4 Huskers hold wins over Alaska-Fairbanks, NC State, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Nevada and UTEP this season.
The West Virginia Mountaineers reclaimed the No. 1 spot nationally over the break, with defending national champion TCU coming it at No. 2 and Kentucky taking the No. 3 spot. No. 4 Alaska-Fairbanks and No. 5 Jacksonville State round out the nation's top five. Other GARC teams appearing in the rankings include No. 6 Army, No. 10 Memphis, No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 14 NC State.
Up Next for the Huskers
The Big Red will hit the road next week for Morgantown, W.Va., to take on top-ranked West Virginia. The Huskers will face the Mountaineers on Jan. 19 at 7 a.m. CST (8 a.m. EST) at the WVU Rifle Range, with free live stats available at Huskers.com.
West Virginia is undefeated this season, holding a perfect 9-0 record that includes a pair of wins over the fourth-ranked Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. The Mountaineers' top score this season came on the road against the Nanooks, where WVU fired their way to a combined mark of 4,719 on Nov. 17. West Virginia is led this season by defending NCAA air rifle champion and senior Petra Zublasing.
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.