No. 6 Tigers Ready for NCAA Championship Run
March 7, 2014
The University of Memphis rifle team, which is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, is in the midst of its final practices prior to traveling to the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships. The event will be held in Murray, Ky., on March 14-15.
Announced last week, the NCAA team invitation is the second team invitation for the Tigers in the past 12 years. Memphis has, however, placed individuals in the NCAA Championships eight of the last 12 seasons, including Beth Tidmore who won the NCAA National Championship in air rifle in 2005.
"I am extremely proud of our team and their accomplishments this season," said Tiger rifle coach Butch Woolbright, the 2014 GARC Coach-of-the-Year. "These young men and women set a goal during the preseason to return as a team to the NCAA Championships. They worked very hard to achieve their goals on the range and in the classroom."
Woolbright is the longest-tenured coach on the current Memphis staff and his 21 years of service ranks him tied for sixth among the longest-tenured coaches in the school's history. During his career with the Tigers, Woolbright has coached a national champion, 10 All-Americans and 11 all-conference selections. He has received Coach of the Year honors in three different conferences, the Great Midwest Conference, Conference USA and the Great American Rifle Conference.
Led by four-time NCAA All-American Dan Hermsmeier, the Tigers will join seven other elite teams from across the country - Alaska-Fairbanks, Jacksonville State, Kentucky, Nebraska, TCU, the United States Military Academy and West Virginia. A total of 48 shooters will compete in the air rifle and small bore championships.
"Before this season started, I knew we had the determination and dedication to make the Championships as a team," said Hermsmeier, captain of this year's squad. "Since I had been fortunate enough to attend the NCAA Championship before, I tried to give my teammates some advice throughout the season on how hard we would have to work to get a team bid. This team bid really makes my career complete."
Hermsmeier, a native of Chesterfield, Mo., was recently named to the Great American Rifle Conference first team all-conference squad in both air rifle and small bore. The senior holds virtually every Memphis shooting record including a personal best 595 in a match this year against the U.S. Naval Academy.
Freshman Amy Fister received honorable mention all-conference honors in small bore and sophomore Beth Lee was named honorable mention in air rifle. Junior Max Burkhardt placed third in the Tigers' win over Navy with a personal best score of 581, while sophomore Nate Brandeburg turned in his personal best score of 581.
"Hopefully, we are peaking at the right time for the championships," said Woolbright. "We will be competing against the top shooting schools in the nation but I have confidence in our team that we will compete at our highest level."