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Silly with success
Rifle shares some laughs along the way to the NCAA Championships.
By Mark Wright
In rifle, the slightest muscle twitch or ill-timed breath can cause the most accurate shooter to miss the mark. That’s why for members of the TCU Rifle team focus, patience and discipline are as essential as good aim.
Put freshman sharpshooters Erin Lorenzen, Emily Paper, Simone Riford and Lauren Sullivan together for a practice session, however, and their close friendships can lead to some momentary lapses in concentration.
“We talk too much at practice,” Lorenzen said.
The continual practice-time banter led coach Karen Monez to designate a “silly room” next to the shooting range where team members can go to get out the giggles before returning to the range with renewed focus.
Whatever distractions they may cause in practice, the freshmen, who are also close friends away from the range, say the chemistry they developed during the season played a pivotal role in the accomplishments the rifle team achieved in a momentous 2006-07 season.
The team earned its first-ever berth in the NCAA Championships, finishing in a fifth-place tie with Nebraska in March in Fairbanks, Alaska. Individually, Lorenzen led the way with a seventh-place finish, while Paper (18th), Riford (22nd) and Sullivan (23rd) each finished in the top 25.
Lorenzen earned second team All-American honors, Sullivan and Riford picked up honorable mention kudos. Monez was named national coach of the year.
“I really owe it to them,” Monez said. “They are a talented bunch and easy to work with.”
Paper, from Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Lorenzen, from Fort Wayne, Ind., Sullivan, from Grosse Point Park, Mich., and Riford, from Kaneohe, Hawaii, have a simple formula for success: “We want to do well as a team first. But to do that we have to do well individually,” Paper said.
If one shooter isn’t having her best day, she leans on the others to pick up the slack for the team, Sullivan said.
“Other teams are so competitive that the teammates don’t seem to get along,” Sullivan said. “But we root each other on. If we have a bad day, we’re behind the other ones.”
The shooters had many more good days than bad. But reaching the NCAA tournament wasn’t something the teammates even considered in the fall when the season began, Paper said.
“It was more of a dream than a goal,” she said.
“We were definitely the underdogs,” Sullivan added.
With three more seasons ahead of them, the group isn’t talking aloud about any lofty goals — like winning an NCAA title. But expect more good times — giggles and all.
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