2000-01 Season in Review

After climbing the ladder of success to join the ranks of the nation's elite, Nebraska rewrote the record books in 2001, breaking every team record and setting new individual highs in the process. The team qualified for the national championship with both rifles for the second consecutive year and saw three Huskers compete in the individual air rifle championships, matching Alaska-Fairbanks for the most representatives.

Nebraska opened its season Oct. 14 in Annapolis, Md., at the Great Eight Rifle Match hosted by Navy. The match featured four of the top five teams from the 2000 NCAA Championships, including NCAA runner-up Xavier. The Huskers came out of the tourney full of confidence after claiming the match title, thanks in part to a then-school-record score of 1,559 in the air rifle.

Led by Terim Richards, whose 394 tied Xavier's Thrine Kane for first place, the Huskers had three shooters score 390 or better, marking the first time in school history that an NU team had three shooters break the 390 barrier.

The following day, Nebraska was back at the range, this time in a shoulder-to-shoulder match with the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. The Huskers earned their second win of the weekend, with a commanding 6,150-5,688 victory.

After nearly three weeks of rest, the Huskers embarked on a tough stretch where they fired four matches in 10 days that spanned across four states. The Huskers started their road trip in Jacksonville, Ala., where they defeated Jacksonville State by 52 points. With a strong showing in the smallbore competition, Nebraska tallied 6,178 points, bettering the school record for aggregate score, a mark that would be broken three times throughout the season.

The Huskers crushed the all-time smallbore record, with a score of 4,631, bettering their previous effort by 23 points. In all, Nebraska had three shooters finish in the top four, including Heather Pissos, who fired a career-best 1,158.

The following day, Nebraska faced the Gamecocks and host Tennessee Tech in a match shot at the Tucker Stadium Rifle Range in Cookeville, Tenn. After relying primarily on dominating performances by a few shooters in the Huskers' first matches, Nebraska received strong scores from all four competitors in its triangular win.

Only four points separated NU's top air rifle shooter from its fourth, a consistency that helped Nebraska top the aggregate record for the second day in a row, boosting the mark to 6,180.

Among those who performed well at the meet was veteran Rachel Spiry, who had a career weekend firing a career-high 389 to capture second in the event, bettering her previous high of 386 set the day before.

The Huskers then made the trek to Lexington, Ky., where they faced Air Force and host Kentucky in a triangular at Buell Armory on Nov. 10. Nebraska was strong with both rifles, but was especially effective in the smallbore competition.

"I was particularly happy with the smallbore performance," Coach Karen Anthony said. "Not just because they had a higher score, but because of the consistency. To have two shooters shoot in the 1,160s and a third fire a 1,159 is great."

For the third consecutive match, the Huskers established a new school record for aggregate score, this time firing a 6,197.

Nebraska finished its 10-day stretch at the Walsh Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio, where NU finished fourth overall among 18 teams. The Huskers were led in the smallbore competition by newcomer Melissa Downsbrough. Downsbrough was the only Husker to finish in the top 25, firing a career-high 1,174 to finish fifth overall among 174 competitors.

After a long road stretch, the Huskers welcomed their return to the familiar confines of the Nebraska Rifle and Pistol Range for their only home match of the season, a Dec. 2 contest against Wyoming.

Behind strong shooting by Amanda Trujillo, the Huskers set new range records in air rifle, smallbore and aggregate score. Trujillo led the Huskers with both rifles, firing a career-high 1,173 in smallbore and shooting a solid 389 in air rifle. It marked the first time in her career that Trujillo had bettered 1,169 in competition.

The Huskers also received strong scores from a few members whose scores did not count toward the team total. Nicole Allaire, the 2000 NCAA smallbore champion, matched Trujillo?s smallbore score, marking the second time during the season that the Kearny, N.J., native had surpassed the 1,170 mark. Karen Aspden also had a career day, finishing fifth in the air rifle with a career-best 378.

After more than a month off from competition, Nebraska headed to El Paso, Texas, to face Alaska-Fairbanks on Jan. 12. The Huskers, who struggled with the smallbore rifle, shot a season-low score of 6,120, well off the Nanooks? total of 6,234.

Even though it could only muster 4,569 points in the smallbore competition, Nebraska barely missed claiming the air rifle title, as Nebraska was just five points off Alaska-Fairbanks' score, totaling 1,551 to the Nanooks' 1,556.

The following day, Nebraska faced Ole Miss and host UTEP and rebounded from a season-low score to capture its seventh title. The Huskers, competing against two all-female squads for the first time ever, used scores of 4,622 in smallbore and 1,553 in air rifle to win the triangular.

The Huskers next action came at the Roger Withrow Invite on Jan. 28, where Nebraska demonstrated its depth in the air rifle as both Trujillo and Downsbrough topped 390, while Allaire and Richards fired scores of 389 and 388, respectively.

"We have never had a match with (air rifle) scores so consistently tight," Anthony said. "From top to bottom, we've got a four-point spread between all four members of the team."

Despite weather delays, which prevented Nebraska from shooting its NCAA qualifying match as scheduled, the Huskers eventually made it to Ohio State, where they recorded the best air rifle score in school history, firing a 1,560, which ranked as the third-highest score in the nation.

In addition, it marked the second time in as many years that the Huskers established a school record at the Lt. Hugh W. Wylie Range. In 1999-2000, in its final regular-season match, Nebraska set school records in both the air and smallbore rifles at the facility.

The Huskers soon learned that despite a sub-par qualifying score in the smallbore (4,595), they would be one of seven teams to participate at nationals with both rifles. In addition, Nebraska would also have three shooters competing in the individual air rifle competition. Allaire and Richards would be making their second trip, while Trujillo would compete for the first time with air rifle.

Trujillo narrowly missed becoming Nebraska's second NCAA champion, when she finished second. Trujillo's score of 392 matched that of Alaska-Fairbanks' Matt Emmons, but Emmons was awarded the title on the basis of inner 10s. Emmons fired 30 inner 10s to Trujillo's 27.

For the second year in a row, Richards and Allaire represented the Huskers in the air rifle competition. Richards fired a 387 to finish eighth, while Allaire shot a 383 to finish 11th.

In the team competition, the Huskers tallied 6,135 points, 29 points below their season average. Alaska-Fairbanks captured its third consecutive title, accumulating 6,283 points, leaving the competition in its wake.

"It's really amazing when you finish sixth and wind up walking away disappointed," Anthony said. "The disappointment comes from knowing we were capable of shooting much better than what we did. I know they can all shoot better."

Downsbrough saved her best shots for last, firing a career-high 393. Meanwhile Trujillo, who on Friday finished second in the individual air rifle competition with a 392, bettered her mark by one, recording a 393. Downsbrough and Trujillo's scores were the third highest of the match, surpassed only by Alaska-Fairbanks? Emmons (398), the NCAA air rifle and smallbore champion, and Per Sandberg (394).

Although the Huskers' score of 1,547 was five points below the season average and 13 points off the season-high, even with a great day they wouldn?t have caught the Nanooks, who turned in the second-highest air rifle score in NCAA history with a 1,573.