By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dexter Trap Shoot Team participated in the USA High School Clay Target League National Championships last weekend at the Michigan Trapshooting Association in Mason, MI., with placements in the individual and team categories.
Qualifiers for both individuals and teams took place on July 13-14 with the finals taking place on July 15.
Depending on how the individuals and teams shot during qualifiers, a breaking point was set, with the top four teams in points moving on. For both individuals and teams, there were two sessions of 50 target shoots. Two rounds of 25, a break, followed by the same session.
The National Championship brought teams from Oregon, California, New York, South Dakota, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and more This year was the first year for a national championship for USA Clay Target, the league in which the Dexter Trap Shoot team competes. The league began in 2001 in Minnesota and has seen tremendous growth, around 200 teams participated in the Nationals in Mason this year.
“Judging by the (reaction from) staff from USA Clay and Michigan trap shooting association, everybody is very happy with the turnout and how things are going,” said first year head coach Bill Hoffman.
Hoffman got involved after a few kids in the boy scout troop he is an assistant scout master for were talking about trapshooting.
“I’m an avid trap shooter – been doing it for years,” said Hoffman. “I got to know people at the gun club, some parents, I was asked to help, and I said I’d love to. Trapshooting has been in my family for years, I’m so happy to see my son, I have another son that will be eligible in another year to shoot. We’re terribly excited about this.”
Hoffman was an assistant coach last year and took over as head coach this year. He credited Laura Jones for taking the initiative to get the club started and said that the training program the staff has implemented has elevated them from finishing third in conference their first two years of existence.
The Dexter Trap Shoot team is entering its third year as a club sport at Dexter High School, and this season has been their most successful thus far. They’ve seen growth, from having between 7-9 students the first year, to 31 students this year.
“Leading up to this, there’s interstate competition,” said Hoffman. “There are seven conferences inside Michigan. We were shooting in conference six against some of the larger teams and ended up taking first. We came to the state shoot here (at Mason), 45 teams in the state, just short of 1000 students registered to shoot. We ended up taking second in the state. The team has done exceptionally well this year. The coaches and parents, we’re all super excited about it.”
Dexter faces different teams in conference play each year, determined by the size of the teams. This year Dexter faced Fenton, Portland, Anchor Bay, Olivet, Utica, and Quincy.
After a late decision by USA Clay, an opportunity to bring a second team to Nationals was allowed, Dexter brought two teams and 16 students for individuals.
Trap Team #1, comprised of Cole Horvath, Jack Dooley, James Mazurek, Alex Hoffman, and Spencer McMichael qualified on Friday for the Finals and took eighth place out of 175 teams on Sunday with a final score of 945/1000.
Horvath and Gage Lidner also qualified for the individual finals, Horvath placed 157 out of 1331 and Lidner placed 369 out of 1331.
Hoffman also gave credit to Bella Emrick for her performance. Emrick, one of eight females on the team, who also competed in individuals at Nationals over the weekend, had a 33 percent increase in her average from her spring league average.
With only one senior on this year’s team, the future looks bright for the Dexter Trap Shoot Team.
“Seeing how the team performed met my expectations, all the things we practiced and rehearsed for, they did a great job executing exactly as I wanted them to,” said Hoffman. “They stayed relaxed and went out and did what they had to do.
In the Finals teams shot two rounds of twenty-five before a break and then another twenty-five shots.
“I’m super psyched (now), late last night I was still not believing what had happened,” said Hoffman. “Going up against 175 other teams from across the nation and placing eighth. I’m very happy and proud to be in the top ten right now with USA Clay target league.”
The roster is composed of Cole Horvath, Jack Dooley, James Mazurek, Alex Hoffman, Spencer McMichael, Owain Jones, Gage Lidner, Edward Anderson, Mike Fawcett, Zach Calhoun, Evan Eshenburg, Joe McFate, Deanna Emrick, Bella Emrick, Jason Milkey, Jack Papin, Evy Squire, Arianna Emrick, Haley Sobolewski, Faith Anderson, and Audrey McMichael. The head coach is Bill Hoffman and assistant coaches are Herb Klein, Matt Mazurek, Kevin Milkey, Mike Papin, and Jim Kralik