Wolfpack Opens Season at SEARC 1 This Weekend
Sept. 28, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - The NC State rifle team will travel to Dahlonega, Ga., this weekend, Sept. 29-30, for the first Southeastern Air Rifle Conference (SEARC) competition of the 2012-13 season. The team will shoot air rifle on Saturday, followed by smallbore Sunday morning.
The Wolfpack is ranked 18th in the first Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association's (CRCA) preseason poll. The team finished the 2011-12 season ranked in the same spot after posting a 26-11 overall record and a 30-0 mark in SEARC competition.
Quest for a Fifth SEARC Title in Six Years
The Wolfpack returns its top three performers from last year's squad in graduate student Bryan Cross, junior Maddy Pike and sophomore Dani Foster, while welcoming four newcomers. With a creative blend comprised of an experienced core group and freshmen, NC State will look to duplicate and expand upon last season's success, which resulted in the program's sixth SEARC title in seven years.
Foster Returns After Outstanding Freshman Campaign
Sophomore Dani Foster looks to take the next step in just her second season, after becoming the first NC State shooter to qualify for the NCAA Championships since current head coach Keith Miller did so in 1994. Foster also won the SEARC Championship individually, while helping the Wolfpack to the team title as well.
"Last year's successes not only made Dani hungry for more this year, but helped raise the performance and expectations of others," head coach Keith Miller said. "We see the rest of the team starting to really step up with some strong scores. We're counting on Dani to continue the process with consistent performances of her own. Based on the other improvements and our new talent, several shooters will be pushing her as well. This is a great win-win for all of us and will make stronger shooters and a stronger team."
Williams Siblings Enrich Wolfpack Family Tradition
One interesting "full circle" twist this year is having the Williams twins, George and Sara on the team. George and Sara are the children of George Williams, a team member in the early 1970s under coach Les Aldrich, who laid the foundation for NC State as a long time power in Collegiate Rifle. It was during this era that there was only a junior program at NC State, as rifle was not an NCAA sport until 1980.
"I was a part of that junior program and learned how to shoot there, starting at age nine," Miller said. "The really interesting part is that after I had done all the safety and knowledge tests, for my first live fire range session, one of the college shooters was assigned to coach me. That college shooter was George Williams. Now with me coaching his children, I think that's pretty cool, as we've always seen Wolfpack Rifle as a family anyway. In this case, it's literal and multi-generational."
Wolfpack Introduce Upgraded Equipment in 2012-13
From rifles to appropriate uniforms, the sport can cost a great deal, financially, for a program to properly fund. This season, NC State has upgraded it's shooting suits to be some of the best in the country.
"One change over the past few years is our focus on top level shooting suits," Miller stated. "There have been several advances in these specialized and customized suits recently and we've had good luck with our experiments so far."
The change was anything but instantaneous however, as the program received the approval to go forth with the upgraded suits after consulting Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director, Chris Kingston.
"This change in direction started two years ago, when we worked with Chris on ways to take our program to the next level," Miller said. "He supported us in the move to more uniformity in our shooting gear with a dedicated design of these top of the line suits. Given the high cost of such custom suits and the complexity in properly fitting them, his support on this was critical."
"In addition to the cutting edge in performance, these suits are visually striking and we've received many comments about how sharp and professional our team looks on the line. This further reinforces that fact that we're taking the program to a higher level, as we turn heads both figuratively and literally."