No Mississippi team has ever won a Division I championship in any sport, but the Ole Miss rifle team is currently positioned to be the team that could change Ole Miss Athletics history. Earlier this month, the all-women rifle team earned a spot in the NCAA Championships for the first time in 15 years, and this week, the team is headed to Ohio to compete.
The Rebels rank No. 2 nationally in NCAA rankings and currently hold an 11-1 overall record.
After the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) Championship, eight members of the team earned a total of 16 honors, breaking the program’s record and earning the second-most among the nine members of the conference.
Head coach Marsha Beasley garnered GARC Coach of the Year, while assistant coach JP Lucas earned Assistant Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.
Freshman Lea Horvath has paved her way in Ole Miss rifle history, grasping smallbore, air rifle and aggregate first-team honors. She also earned GARC Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, sophomore Kristen Derting earned three honors, one as the second-team smallbore (583.71) and one as the second-team aggregate (1176.86). Derting also earned an honorable mention for air rifle.
In addition to Horvath and Derting, junior Erin Walsh earned a second-team smallbore honor with her average score of 583.17. The Delaware native also earned an honorable mention in the combined average score category as well. The next honor went to senior Abby Buesseler, who managed to earn an honorable mention in smallbore and was also named Ole Miss rifle’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Another award for the rifle team went to junior Jillian Zakrzeski who earned honorable mention smallbore honors. To end the team member awards, freshman Martina Gratz also collected an honorable mention in air rifle.
The Rebels finished the GARC Championship in fourth place overall and second place in air rifle. Key leaders in this match included Horvath, who placed sixth in air rifle (597), and Gratz, who shot a 592.
As a whole, the team finished with a score of 2,370 in air rifle. The Rebels had a total score of 4,689, placing them behind teams such as West Virginia (4,689) and Army (4,692).
To claim victory this weekend, Ole Miss must beat the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who sit at No. 1 in NCAA DI rankings. The Wildcats finished second at the GARC Championship with an overall score of 4,700, and they recently posted a 2,338 in smallbore and a 2,362 in air rifle to claim the runner-up spot. One of the key leaders for the Wildcats is sophomore Mary Tucker, who finished with an aggregate score of 1,189 at GARC.
The NCAA Rifle Championship starts on Friday, March 12 and will last until Saturday, March 13 in Columbus, Ohio.