UAF rifle returns to action with two-match series against #4 TCU
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks rifle program is back in action this weekend for a two-match series against the fourth-ranked Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs. Alaska will look to improve on their 3-1 record after an impressive run last semester.
The fifth ranked-‘Nooks will get a chance to avenge their loss last season to TCU, hosting the Horned Frogs at both the E.F. Horton Range and the Tanana Valley Sportsmen’s Association Range to continue the 2020-21 season. The last time Alaska faced TCU, the Horned Frogs won 4,703-4,663 on October 13, 2019. However, that Nanooks squad that struggled throughout that season is now led by a different head coach with Will Anti taking up the helm. Under Anti, the ‘Nooks have scored ranked wins over the University of Memphis in November. Now with the Nanooks back from winter break, Coach Anti has been able to see the improvements his squad has made.
“It’s bean a good work ethic in the second semester already and that’s good carry over from last semester,” said Coach Anti. “The consistency both in the work and in the results. It’s a really consistent group, they come in everyday ready to work and it’s showing up in the results.”
The Nanooks have some freshmen on their roster that have put in great performances during the season so far with Rylan Kissell and Marina Gonzales Mago both hitting the leaderboard. On November 19 against Georgia Southern University, Kissell scored a 585 in the smallbore and a 592 in the air rifle for an aggregate score of 1,117, which was good enough for second on the overall leaderboard. Kissell’s experiences in rifle have taken him from the National Training Center Junior Club all the way to the Golden Heart City where he has learned under Coach Anti and the senior leadership.
“Coming in it’s like a fresh experience,” said Kissell about joining the Nanooks. “You get to see like what everybody is already doing. It’s cool to be able to come in and learn from what other people are doing and it’s also cool to come in and share your own experiences that some of the other people might not have.”
One of those seniors is Jessica Boyce. Boyce has been a part of the Blue and Gold since 2019, joining the ‘Nooks after spending time with the University of Texas El Paso. Boyce got to experience the difference between the two regimes that have been apart of the Nanooks, as she shot for Layne Lewis in 2019-20 and now for Coach Anti. Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, the University of Alaska Fairbanks administration deemed sports like rifle and skiing safe enough to compete in. While sports like basketball and hockey were suspended due to concerns over the coronavirus, rifle’s student-athletes were able to hit the range.
“Definitely a lot more grateful now that our athletic department has let us go out and compete,” said Boyce on UAF allowing them to participate in competitions. “I think, being me, I’m a lot more grateful.”
The Nanooks open their first match on Friday at 8 A.M. Alaska time at the E.F. Horton Range at UAF. Their second match will be at 8 A.M. as well, but will be hosted at the TVSA range.
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