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MHS Clay Target League Earns All-State Team Status (2018-08-02)
Written by: Holli Seehafer

More than a dozen members of the Milbank High School clay target league team competed against 700 shooters from more than 30 high schools at the State Clay Target Tournament, Saturday, June 9, at the Aberdeen Gun Club.

The Milbank students’ scores throughout the nine-week season average were high enough to earn them the designation of an All-State Team.

It was also announced at the state meet that Chase Pinkert’s season average put him in the Top 50 League. His average was 22.4 of 25 per round.

Tanner Bock was named to the 50 Straight Club. Only shooters who hit 50 targets in a row during the season earn the designation. Bock accomplished the challenge in practice week two.

Four members of Milbank’s team made the 25 Straight Club by hitting 25 targets consecutively during the season. Isaac Johnson accomplished it in practice week one and competition week four; Logan Meyer in practice week two; Tanner Bock three times – in practice week two, and competition weeks one and three, and Chase Pinkert in competition week two.

The first shoot was April 2, and the windchill at the Milbank Trap Range north of Milbank was below zero. “One of the last weeks we shot, the temperature was near 100 degrees. These kids are tough,” said Wayne Meyer, manager for the team.

Each week, the students competed in a local shoot, and their scores were reported to the state scorekeepers. Every shooter would shoot two rounds of 25 each during the week’s contest. If they hit 20 targets in the first round and 18 in the second round, their score would be recorded as 20/25 and 18/25 for a total of 38/50 for the week.

Milbank’s 27-member-team includes 17 first-season shooters, five of whom are female. Their scores ranked the team second in the conference which included eight teams.

All participants were eligible to compete at the state event, but rather than teams facing off against teams, individuals were divided into the categories of varsity for those with averages of 19 and better; junior varsity, 15 to 18.99, and novice, 14.99 and under. They were scored together with students of similar skill levels from other schools.

Local shooters who ranked as varsity were Alec Bien, Tanner Bock, Lucas Hanson, Isaac Johnson, Logan Meyer, Darrin Nitz, Austin Schuelke and Chase Pinkert. Junior varsity shooters were Isaac Dean, Nolan Hanson, Josh Hoeke, Tom Holtquist, Jared Johnson, Tyler Lee, Nathan McFarland, Bryan Wiese and Adam Wollschlager. Novice shooters were Cole Brown, Casey Buttke, Maddox Hanson, Korbin Leddy, Shelby Lee, Heidi Meyer, Natalie Meyer, Shaylee Pekelder, Casside Seezs and Paul VanDover.

Milbank students who competed in the state shoot garnered the following scores. Scores are the number of hits in each of four rounds of 25 possible.

Varsity

Isaac Johnson 21, 23, 21, 17

Logan Meyer 23, 18, 16, 17

Darrin Nitz 20, 24, 20, 19

Chase Pinkert 21, 21, 20, 23

Austin Schuelke 24, 24, 22, 23

Junior Varsity

Isaac Dean 12, 16, 19, 19

Tom Holtquist 21, 20, 22, 16

Tyler Lee 15, 20, 16, 16

Nathan McFarland 13, 10, 16, 19

Bryan Wiese 16, 19, 15, 13

Adam Wollschlager 16, 18, 15, 12

Novice

Cole Brown 13, 14, 13, 10

Korbin Leddy 14, 14, 12, 11

Shelby Lee 16, 17, 17, 15

Shaylee Pekelder 17, 18, 10, 19

Paul VanDover 8, 14, 10, 10

In the state shoot varsity competition, Austin Schuelke tied for 18th individual. In the novice division, Shelby Lee tied for 11th and Shaylee Pekelder tied for 13th.

The Milbank team is coached by volunteers Henry Kliner and Bob Pugwill, with assistance from members of the local sportsmen’s clubs. “A lot of volunteers from the trap range serve as safety officers for our shoots,” Meyer noted. “Perry Dockter and Rick Hentjes help every week with the shoots. They are very interested in seeing the sport continue.”

The contest year 2018 offers the first National Championship Clay Target competition, and it is open to all teams with five or more athletes meeting the minimum regular season competition average of 19. The team registration is a tiered process based on regular season competition averages, and Milbank is tier one eligible, but won’t be taking a team, according to Meyer.

As individuals, Chase Pinkert qualified for the national event in tier one with an average above 22; Austin Schuelke, Logan Meyer and Tanner Bock qualified in tier two, and Lucas Hanson, Isaac Johnson, Darrin Nitz and Alec Bien qualified in tier three. According to Meyer, only Tanner Bock is planning to attend the national contest in Mason, MI, July 12 to 15. His family will accompany him.

“It’s been really fun to see how the kids progress through the year,” Meyer said. “They learn from each other, and you can see them grow in confidence.”

High school clay target league is a relatively new sport, so new that it hasn’t been endorsed by the South Dakota High School Athletic Association. As a high school sport, it began in Minnesota in the 2007-2008 school term with 30 participants on three teams. It grew quickly, and by the 2013-2014 term, 7,046 participated in 191 teams in two states. In 2017-2018, there are more than 25,000 participants on 700 teams in 28 states.

South Dakota schools became involved in the spring of 2016 with seven teams, including Milbank’s shooters. That year, there were 211 participants in the state; in 2017 the number jumped to 515 on 21 teams, and in 2018, it rose to 949 on 36 teams.

Milbank’s teams have included about 25 students each year. The 2016 team was limited to freshmen through seniors; the following year included eighth graders and this year included seventh graders. Students must be at least 12 years old and have successfully completed the HuntSafe course to be in the program.

Meyer would like to see the program grow to more than 30 students next year. For more information, contact him at 605-880-4920 or email wnmeyer@sstel.net.

~Holli Seehafer





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