Taylor Gibson Rifle pic 03-05-20

Taylor Gibson earns the chance to represent the University of Memphis at the NCAA Championship. The Memphis Rifle team ended their season after hosting the GARC Championships. 

The Memphis Rifle season ended team competition after the team hosted their conference tournament. 

The Great American Rifle Conference Championship completed its first year in Memphis and head coach Dan Hermsmeier said hosting the championships was a major success.

"I think the team was excited and happy to host such a large event," Hermsmeier said. "I think the event gave a great image to the department and the team at the end of the day."

Memphis finished the GARC Championships overall in eighth with an aggregate score of 4655. The Tigers shot 2311 in smallbore placing seventh and combined it with an eighth place finish in air rifle with 2344. 

"At the end of the day we didn't really end up where we wanted," Hermsmeier said. "The other teams were quite skilled and it is always an uphill battle being in this conference. 

The Tigers placed 2 points shy of seventh place NC State and Memphis placed above Army West Point by nine. The win over Army meant the Tigers beat half of their conference opponents once. The UofM beat Nebraska, Ole Miss, NC State and Army at least one time.

Kentucky was the only team to score above 4700 whereas the other eight programs were between 4693 and 4646. The Wildcats ended the West Virginia 10-year title reign with an aggregate score of 4711. The Mountaineers did not win the GARC for the first time since 2009.

"Overall, it was the highest we have shot since 2012," Hermsmeier said. "We are always looking to climb our up the ranking boards, and we have a ton talent packed into our conference."

Levi Clark finished with the highest aggregate on the team with 1167. Clark repeated his success by scoring above 1165 as he did last year in the GARC Championships. Taylor Gibson placed second with 1163 combined and Matt Dorey landed in third with 1157. Arielle Kimm placed fourth with 1156, David Crenshaw was fifth with 1152. Mark Meyeraan scored 571 in smallbore, finishing fourth on the team among his teammates, but did not compete in air rifle. 

Kimm performed the best in smallbore, finishing with 581. Kimm also improved her aggregate by 36 points compared to her performance at the previous GARC Championships. Clark and Gibson tied for second in second in smallbore, scoring 580. Air rifle was a three-way tie with Clark, Dorey and Crenshaw all finishing with with 587. 

Gibson's performance was the best by a Memphis freshman in the GARC Championships since Kelly Audet scored a 1171 in 2011. Gibson said she just wants to represent her team well.

"My goal is never to go as an individual," Gibson said. "I am grateful that I qualified because at least I get to represent my team even if we do not all get to compete.

Gibson is the only freshman on the team and has averaged 577.4 in smallbore. Her highest was a 586 at both the Jacksonville State tournament and the Murray State tournament. Gibson said she strives to do her best in any given situation.

"This season has been one of the most difficult seasons of my shooting career but also one of the most fulfilling seasons," Gibson said. 

Gibson extended Memphis' NCAA appearance streak to 10 years. Hermsmeier performed in the NCAA Championships with a smallbore in 2011 and said it is important for her to revert back to her training and preparation. 

"Gibson has been fantastic as a freshman this year," Hermsmeier said. "She should not worry about scores or placements just focus on her own performance and her own match and that will give her the best opportunity to do well at the end of the day."

Her performance throughout the season qualified her to go the NCAA Championships in Lexington, Kentucky. She is scheduled to compete in smallbore Mar. 13.

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