Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

2017-18 Season Brought School Records and All-Americans

By NU Athletic Communications

The 2017-18 Nebraska rifle team concluded a record-breaking season under fourth-year head coach Ashley MacAllister and third-year assistant coach Rick Johnson. With their sixth consecutive selection to the 2018 NCAA Championships, the Huskers broke the school record for most consecutive appearances. The milestone is the most in Nebraska history since rifle became a varsity sport in 1998. By the conclusion of the season the Huskers had accumulated a school record, several personal records, three all-conference honorees and an All-American.

At the conclusion of the season Dacotah Faught finished her senior year on a high note, earning All-America honors from the NRA for her achievements. The award marked the second consecutive season that Faught has earned second-team honors in air rifle. The accolade marks her third time earning All-America honors, after bringing home second-team honors in air rifle last season and second-team honors in smallbore in 2015 at UT Martin. Faught led the Huskers in air rifle over the course of the 2017-18 season, maintaining an average of 590.71 and posting the team’s highest individual air rifle score when she fired 596 against Kentucky on Nov. 19.

Nebraska journeyed to Charleston, S.C. on March. 9-10 to compete in the NCAA Championships in the final outing of the season. The appearance marked the sixth consecutive team selection to the Championships, breaking a school record. The record-breaking appearance began on Friday, March. 9 as the Huskers finished the day in seventh at the conclusion of smallbore action. Emily Cheramie led the team with a score of 583, pushing NU to a team score of 2,310. The effort landed Nebraska in a tie for seventh with Ohio State, then another tie in the centershots tiebreaker (100 each). Kayla Gadeken’s mark of 573 ultimately pushed Nebraska ahead as the scores deferred to the usually non-counted fifth squad member. The next day Nebraska, led by Dacotah Faught (589), notched a team air rifle score of 2,345. An overall score of 4,655 put the Huskers behind Ohio State (4,664) to place eighth.

An NCAA Qualifier match against Murray State preceded the Huskers’ trip to the Championships. A season-high team smallbore score (2,324) was not enough to push the Huskers past the Racers, with a final score of 4,672-4,710. Emily Cheramie’s mark of 285 paced NU in smallbore, while Samantha Peterson led the way in air rifle with 591 to contribute to Nebraska’s team score of 2,343. Despite the loss, the Huskers were selected to attend the 2018 NCAA Championships.

The Huskers showed resolve and focus in a whirlwind season, particularly in the fall when head coach Ashley MacAllister went on maternity leave.

“I am most impressed with the culture that we have created this year,” MacAllister said. “Everyone on this team has the ability to face the hard things that often in the past I have seen athletes try to avoid. I am so proud of the girls and how they were able to handle the craziness from the beginning of the season. It is hard when your head coach isn’t around fulltime for half of the season. It was hard for me to be away from them but Zeke is the biggest blessing in my life and I am so happy that everyone on the team loves him as much as I do. I can’t thank [assistant coach Rick Johnson] enough for stepping up and taking the lead while I was out in the fall.”        

The Nebraska rifle team opened the 2017-18 season at the NCAA Test Event in Charleston, S.C. on Sunday Sept. 24, where a combined score of 4,631 placed them in third behind Ole Miss and NC State. Nina Radulovic paved the way for NU in smallbore with a second-place score of 580. Dacotah Faught led the Huskers in air rifle, firing an impressive 591. This matched served as an exhibition before NU hosted West Virginia in the first match of the regular season.

The Huskers hosted top-ranked West Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 14, falling to the Mountaineers 4,653-4,716 in the first home match of the 2017-18 season. Junior Nina Radulovic and sophomore Kayla Gadeken led the Huskers in smallbore, each notching 578. Dacotah Faught paved the way in air rifle with 592. The Huskers finished with scores of 2,304 in smallbore and 2,349 in air rifle.

Army  West Point journeyed to Lincoln on Oct. 21 in Nebraska’s second home match of the season. NU’s aggregate score of 4,631 was enough to overcome Army’s 4,630 after the Huskers hung on to a lead despite falling four points short in air rifle. A strong smallbore score (2,298), led by a pair of 578 scores from Dacotah Faught and Nina Radulovic, propelled the Huskers to a win. Samantha Peterson paved the way to Nebraska’s air rifle score of 2,333, notching a score of 588.

The Huskers traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 28-29 to face TCU and Memphis in their first road match of the season. Nebraska scored an overall score of 2,300 in smallbore, led by Samantha Peterson’s score of 579. Nina Radulovic notched a mark of 589 to pace NU in air rifle, contributing to an aggregate score of 2,336. TCU and Memphis topped the Huskers’ overall score of 4,636, as TCU took first with 4,711 and Memphis brought in second with 4,663.

Nebraska was not done yet, however. The Huskers defeated Memphis in the second day of match action in Fort Worth, 4,665-4,640. Hannah Virga’s career-high smallbore score (585) led NU’s smallbore effort, ending in an aggregate mark of 2,315. This ultimately decided the match as the two teams tied in air rifle, 2,350-2,350. Dacotah Faught led the team in air rifle with a score of 592.

The Huskers’ final appearance of 2017 was in Colorado Springs, Colo., as they faced the fifth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Nov. 19. Nebraska fell short (4,663-4,696) but fired its highest smallbore score of the season in the process, posting a mark of 2,320 as a team. NU was led by freshman Emily Cheramie’s career-high score of 585. Dacotah Faught led the team in air rifle by tying her own career-high score of 596, contributing to an overall score of 2,343.

The next day Nebraska competed against Kentucky, Air Force and Ohio State in the same location. The Huskers lost a tiebreaker with Air Force (Inner tens: 280-257) to place fourth with a score of 4,672. Kentucky took first with a mark of 4,687 and Ohio State grabbed second with 4,682. Nebraska fired its second-highest smallbore score of the season (2,316), led by Hannah Virga’s new career-high score of 587. Virga also led the team in air rifle with a score of 590, helping the Huskers to a season-high score of 2,356.

In the first match of 2018 the Huskers traveled to Columbus, Ohio,a to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Jan. 13. Nebraska’s aggregate score of 4,667 was not enough to top Ohio State’s score of 4,690. Samantha Peterson’s smallbore score of 583 led the Huskers on their way to a team score of 2,317. A team score of 2,350 in air rifle, led by Dacotah Faught’s mark of 592 was not enough to push NU past the Buckeyes.

Nebraska’s second match in Ohio was against Ole Miss the next day. The Rebels topped the Huskers, 4,660-4,669. NU notched a mark of 2,311 in smallbore, led by Nina Radulovic’s score of 580. Samantha Peterson paced the Huskers in air rifle with a score of 590, helping to push the Huskers to a team score of 2,349.

In their next appearance the Huskers traveled to Annapolis, Md. to compete against Navy on Jan. 19. A final score of 4,682-4,655 put Nebraska on top. NU’s smallbore score of 2,320 tied the team’s season high, fueled by Hannah Virga’s score of 586. Nebraska widened the gap in air rifle, producing a score of 2,362. Dacotah Faught led the Huskers with her second-highest score of the season (595).

The Huskers took on North Carolina State the next day (Jan. 20), again in Annapolis, Md. Nebraska came out on top (4,670-6,655) to finish the weekend 2-0. Nebraska set a season-high smallbore score (2,321), led by a pair of 583 scores from Emily Cheramie and Samantha Peterson. Dacotah Faught fired a score of 593 to pace NU in air rifle, contributing to a team score of 2,349.  The impressive smallbore effort was enough for the Huskers to survive being outscored in air rifle and win the match.

In their last home match of the season the Huskers defeated the Akron Zips, 4,661-4,640. Emily Cheramie paced the team in smallbore with a mark of 584, contributing to a team score of 2,308.  Dacotah Faught led the field in air rifle on Nebraska’s Senior Day, firing 595 to push NU to a team score of 2,353. 

The Huskers traveled to Morgantown W.Va. to compete in the GARC Championships over the Feb. 24-25 weekend. Smallbore action began on Saturday, with NU finishing the day in fifth. Emily Cheramie paced the team with a mark of 580, leading the way to a team score of 2,306. The next day Dacotah Faught fired a score of 590 in air rifle to lead NU. The Huskers finished with an aggregate air rifle score of 2,345 and overall team score of 4,651. At the end of the competition, Nebraska shared fourth place with Ole Miss, but after falling short in the tiebreaker, the Huskers finished fifth. Three Huskers were honored at the annual award banquet the night before competition began. Freshman Emily Cheramie earned a place on the second-team all-conference smallbore team. All-American Dacotah Faught was chosen second-team all-conference honors in air rifle and honorable mention in combined disciplines. Nina Radulovic was named Nebraska’s Scholar Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.

Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season the Huskers will be led by All-American Samantha Peterson, along with Nina Radulovic, Hannah Virga and Rachel Yager, who will be seniors next season. They will assume leadership roles as the Huskers pursue a seventh consecutive NCAA Championship appearance in 2019.

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