Despite posting four of their top five aggregates in the final four matches of the regular season, the University of Memphis rifle team struggled in the final team competition of the season.
The squad finished ninth at the 2018 Great American Rifle Conference Championships. The two-day conference tournament took place over the weekend at West Virginia University.
No. 1 West Virginia maintained their top-flight status with a first place finish. Their aggregate of 4699 was 13 points higher than that of second place Kentucky. Mountaineers Ginny Thrasher and Morgan Phillips both tied for the best overall aggregate (1178).
No. 13 Navy was arguably the biggest surprise team of the tournament, coming in third place. Daniel Enger led the way for the Midshipmen with a fifth place finish (585) in the smallbore discipline.
The Tigers were narrowly beaten for eighth place by No. 15 Akron. Memphis finished one point behind the Zips in the smallbore discipline (2292-2291) and 13 points behind Akron on aggregate (4637-4624).
Sophomore Levi Clark recorded the 15th best smallbore aggregate and was seven points shy of a top-10 aggregate finish (1160). Junior Leighton Dempster finished one point higher than Clark on aggregate (1161) and tied for 19th in the air rifle discipline (589). She recorded a score of 572 in the smallbore discipline.
For senior Eli Rischling, the GARC Championships marked the end of his four-year career as a Tiger. The Nebraska native is one of three seniors on the squad.
“Athletics has taught me a ton, and these last four years have helped shape me into the person who I am today,” Rischling said. “I learned a lot about being humble, taking nothing for granted, and working hard and I believe that all of those things will help me be successful in my future endeavors.”
Dempster and Clark will continue to play this season. The two shooters have been selected to represent the Tigers as individuals at the 2018 Rifle Championships March 9-10.
A total of 48 competitors will compete in the championships, and 40 competitors are coming from the top eight teams selected. The remaining eight competitors were selected based on the scores submitted from the designated qualifier.
Outside the schools that qualified for the team competition, Memphis is the lone school to send two individuals to the NCAA Championships. North Carolina State, Army West Point, UT Martin, Ole Miss and Navy each had a single individual qualify.
This will be the first NCAA Championship birth for both Clark and Dempster. Clark was picked to shoot in the smallbore discipline, and Dempster was selected for air rifle.
Clark’s selection marks the fourth-straight season a Tiger will shoot in the smallbore discipline at the NCAA Championships.
Dempster is the first Tiger to qualify in the air rifle discipline at the NCAA Championships since her current head coach, Dan Hermsmeier, qualified in 2013.
Matt Dorey poses for the camera. Dorey helped Memphis rifle finished second behind No. 3 Kentucky by an aggregate score of 4650-4686 in the Tigers second to last match of the 2017 campaign.
The Memphis Tiger Rifle team posted a fourth-place finish at the 2018 Winthrow Invitational. The Tigers spent the fall at their new facilitates, but this is the first spring season for the new Memphis Rifle Facility.