Sept. 30, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy rifle team begins its 2011-12 season this weekend by hosting the MAC Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range. Action gets underway at 8:00 am on both days.
"We are really looking forward to the season and getting it underway," said Navy head coach Bill Kelley, who is entering his 13th season with a 127-15 mark. "We don't have a real standout this year, but we have been very consistent in practice and this team has the best attitude of any team I have coached here in 13 years. There is just a different dynamic this year and this team really wants to get out and perform well."
Navy returns just two starters in senior captain Allison Paulson and junior Ryan Williams from last year's team that finished 9-1 and seventh at the NCAA Championships, equaling its highest finish since the 2006 team finished fourth. Paulson was named second-team all-conference last year in air rifle after averaging a 578.3, including a team-best 585 at the NCAA Championships. Williams led Navy in air rifle with a 584.3 average last year and fired a 594 against Akron in last season's MAC Championship. The 594 tied for the fourth-best mark in school history.
The remaining three spots will be up for grabs and junior Robyn Draughon and sophomores Carol Boyd, Steven Frazier and Crystal Green appear to have the inside track. All four have shown talent, but lack match experience. Only Frazier has seen any significant time and that is only with seven smallbore and seven air rifle matches under his belt.
Freshmen Alex Berry
, Julius Melero
, David Stevens
, Brandon Thompson
and Britney Thornton
will also compete for time.
Kelley hopes the improvement can come quickly as Navy is looking to reach the NCAA Championships for the 27th time in school history and the 21st straight year, the second-longest streak in the country behind Alaska's 24 straight appearances.
"Our air rifle team is pretty solid and is potentially the best air rifle squad I have had here," said Kelley. "Our smallbore needs improvement, but we will get there. They have improved so much in smallbore since the first practice and I anticipate we will continue to improve. Several members have taken responsibility in the smallbore discipline and they really want to improve. I really like the make-up of this team."
Navy will remain at home next Saturday, Oct. 8 when it hosts the University of the Sciences at 9:00 am at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range.
# GO NAVY #