Knights take third nationally
Alden-Conger trap team sends two teams to national tournament
Eleven individuals on the Alden-Conger trap team traveled to Mason, Michigan, July 10-14 after qualifying to take part in the 2019 USA High School Clay Target League National Championship.
The 11 shooters competed as individuals and 10 of them were split up into two teams of five. While the team of Ann Huper, Adam Skov, Ross Huper, Levi Sorensen and Jager Lillibridge qualified for the finals and took 53rd place, the team of Ryan Hansen, Calob Prange, Eric Warmka, Mike Huper and Dylan Kohler came away with a third-place finish and the school’s best-ever finish in the event.
Hansen talked about what it was like for him to come in third place out of 206 competing teams.
“It’s crazy coming from a small school,” Hansen said. “We’re not always a very athletic school, but the other stuff we do like trap shooting, supermilage and robotics, we excel at. It’s just super fun.”
Many of the members of Alden-Conger’s team have been shooting together since they were in sixth grade, and now that they are upperclassmen, that bond helps them find a good rhythm on the range, according to Hansen.
Prange said there was a lot of practice that extended all year long in preparation for the national championship.
“Usually we have a fall and spring league that we shoot in as well as the FFA,” Prange said. “A lot of us shoot in the gun club’s summer league. There’s a lot of shooting that we do. At least once or twice a week for me.”
The teams were both part of the 206-team field that started the competition and both qualified for the 80-team finals. Squad two qualified in 43rd with a score of 463 and moved to 53rd after a second-day score of 461.
Squad one sat in seventh place after round one with a score of 478 and moved up to third with a day two score of 484.
Team one’s total score of 962 was just two points behind the champions Roseau High School, who finished with 964.
Warmka said the key to shooting a good score is keeping your head in the game. He said with the unpredictability of the targets, it’s pivotal to stay focused because one distraction can throw the entire round off.
“You wouldn’t think it’s a mental game, but it’s actually a big part of it,” Warmka said. “As soon as it gets in your head, you start missing.”
Head coach Pam Koenen said it was special to be able to see the team mesh together and get into a competitive rhythm.
“This has been a great group of kids to work with,” Koenen said. “From the time they stepped to the line to the time they finished, they were so in sync. They knew what everyone else was going to do and it became automatic for them. You could tell they were in the groove and they weren’t thinking about all the extra stuff. They were doing exactly what they needed to be doing. It’s been the most fun I’ve had watching a squad was the groups we took to nationals.”