Olympics beckon for UAF shooter

Posted: Sunday, June 25, 2000

FAIRBANKS -- Melissa Mulloy's Olympic dreams came true on Friday when the University of Alaska Fairbanks senior successfully qualified for the U.S. Olympic shooting team in the sport rifle three-position shoot.

Mulloy, a member of UAF's NCAA national championship rifle team for the past two years, was the third qualifier for the U.S. team behind Thrine Kane and Jean Foster.

``It's kind of exciting, but it really hasn't sunk in yet,'' Mulloy said in a telephone interview from Atlanta Friday afternoon.

Qualifying for the Olympic team was based on a combination of each shooter's scores from the current USA Shooting National Championships and Final Olympic Team Selection match at Wolf Creek Trap and Shooting Range in Atlanta and from the spring trials.

Mulloy, of Middleton, Mass., was the leading shooter at the spring trials with a score of 1,160 and a shoot-off score of 95.6. She posted a score of 1,149 with a shoot-off score of 92.1 during the national championships, and that was good enough for an overall third-place finish.

``I really just wanted to be in the top 10 in the spring trials,'' Mulloy said. ``I didn't have quite as good an event this weekend, but I guess it was good enough.''

Mulloy said her scores were off a bit on Friday and she wasn't aware that she made the team until her name was announced at the awards ceremony Friday evening.

``I really thought I was out of it until they announced my name at the awards ceremony,'' she said.

``I wasn't keeping track of the other scores because I didn't want to have a bunch of numbers running through head after each shot,'' she added. ``On Thursday I was two points off my previous score and that was no big deal and I was hoping to do better today, but that didn't happen.''

Mulloy, who is majoring in business and plans to minor in biology, said she was told she will be in Australia from Sept. 6-24 at the Games, which means she'll miss about a month of school in the fall semester.

``I guess I'll have to talk to my professors about that,'' she said with a laugh. ``Maybe I'll have to take a few less classes than I was planning on.''

Mulloy, 22, is one of the youngest qualifiers on the shooting team at this time, but there are several more events scheduled before the national championships conclude on July 1.

``I'm just tremendously excited for Melissa,'' UAF athletic director and rifle coach Randy Pitney said. ``I just had one of those gut feelings that Melissa would make the Olympic team.''

Pitney said that Mulloy has been preparing herself for the Olympics ever since school started last fall.

``She's done everything right in her preparation and if you prepare right, good things will come to you,'' Pitney said. ``She's a very collected and focused individual. She set her mind on this, had a plan of action and articulated it perfectly.

``Not only is she a stellar student academically, but she's a fine young lady,'' Pitney added. ``She has the admiration of everybody I know.''

Debra Sinclair is the only previous UAF athlete to ever qualify for the Olympics. She competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and finished in 11th place in the women's air rifle event.

UAF sophomore Matt Emmons just missed making the men's air rifle team as he finished in third place, just two points behind Ken Johnson. Jason Parker won the event Friday.

Johnson edged Emmons by two points for the second and final men's air rifle team slot.

Parker and Johnson are both members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning.

Emmons still has a chance to qualify for the team in the small bore and small bore English events. He is ranked in the top 10 in both events heading into the national championship matches in the next few days.

``Since he shoots in all three events, there's a very real possibility that he will be chosen as an alternate for the team and he may very well qualify in one of his other events,'' Pitney said.

In addition to Emmons and Mulloy, UAF's Kelly Mansfield also is in the running to earn a spot on the U.S. team.

Mansfield, who just completed her senior season, is in third place heading into the air rifle trials that begin on Sunday. Mulloy is in sixth place.

Mansfield set a national record with an air rifle score of 398 in winning her second straight individual NCAA title last March. It was her third national title, also a record.

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