First-year trap teams take aim at state meet

High School clay target shooting leagues more than doubled the number of participants this spring which ended with more than 2,000 young shooters taking part in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League State Tournament at the Alexandria Shooting Park June 7-9.

Coon Rapids lone girls’ all-conference award winner Payton Bolander takes aim at a clay target. Submitted photos

Coon Rapids lone girls’ all-conference award winner Payton Bolander takes aim at a clay target. Submitted photos

According to the league’s website (mnclaytarget.com), the clay target league has grown a lot from three programs with 30 participants to more than 3,400 young shooters across 115 teams from 215 schools this season. The fall 2012 season included 57 teams from 100 schools with 1,715 participants.

The league divided teams into conferences based on the number of students on a team with many area schools forming teams in time to participate in the spring season.

Anoka

With 38 members, the Anoka High School Clay Target Club completed a strong first season by sending nine students to the state meet.

During the regular season Anoka competed against other teams in a conference format at the Minnetonka Game and Fish Club.

Anoka’s Kyle Brotkowski, left, stands alongside Minnesota Clay Target League founder Jim Sable after clinching the Junior Varsity title scoring a 97-of-100.

Anoka’s Kyle Brotkowski, left, stands alongside Minnesota Clay Target League founder Jim Sable after clinching the Junior Varsity title scoring a 97-of-100.

Coaches Scott Birklid and John Lace organized the team, while several area businesses and individuals helped get the program off the ground before what can only be described as a fairy tale ending.

Kyle Brotkowski won the junior varsity division at the state tournament scoring a 97 out of 100 points to beat out a field of more than 900 participants.

Anoka placed sixth in the eight-team 10A Conference won by Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity/Watertown-Mayer, which won three of the five-week regular season meets to score 105.5 points. Anoka’s best result came in the first week with a second-place finish behind LP/HT/WM and finished the season 2.5 points behind fifth-place Belle Plaine.

Coon Rapids

Coon Rapids coach Gary Alexander said the Cardinals had 24 students on the inaugural team and hopes to see that number increase to 40 next season. The team placed second in the 7A Conference, missing out on the top spot by one-half point behind Alden-Conger.

Other teams in the conference included Worthington, St. Paul Academy, Henry Sibley, Mound Westonka and Pine Island.

Points are earned in each category including high gun, top performers and team average.

The Cardinals had four all-conference shooters – Payton Bolander, Daniel Groess, Hunter Procai and Blake Weber.

Matt Lerdahl was one of three students honored at the state competition for his involvement in starting the team at Coon Rapids High School.

Blaine

Blaine placed second in the 15A Conference, 1.5 points behind Wayzata and five points clear of Hastings. The Bengals recorded the most points twice, were runner-up twice and had one third-place finish in the weekly results.

Bengals sophomore Dannyelle Moon was ranked third with a 21.5 scoring average and sophomore Sidney Gierdal was ranked 14th in the league. Sophomore Cory Southernton was ranked 13th in his league out of 3,400 shooters this season. He also joined the 25-straight club after hitting 25 targets in a row in week four along with teammate Christian Dahl. Jake Steinmetz joined the club in week three.

Moon reached the milestone on week two.

St. Francis

St. Francis finished second in 11A Conference, 9.5 points behind champion Jordan and 25.5 points clear of third-place Faribault. St. Francis scored the second most team points in four of the five weeks. The lone win came week three when St. Francis flipped with Jordan for weekly honors.

St. Francis’ Hunter Emmerich posted the 10th highest season scoring average with a 23.1, while teammate Kyle Sweeney was 14th with a 23.0 scoring average.

Nick Feela joined the 25-straight club after hitting 25 straight targets in week five, the final week of the regular season. Derek Jensen joined the club week three along with Garrett Tegg, Cody Whiteford and Sweeney. Emmerich reached the milestone in week one.

On the girls’ side, Erin Lokke had a 21.1 average, fourth highest in the state, and teammate Kasondra Schrecongost’s 18.2 average tied for 18th place.

• Andover placed sixth with 42 points in 9A Conference won by McGregor-Aitkin-Cromwell.

 Jason Olson is at jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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