WHS to compete at trapshooting state tournament starting todayWORTHINGTON — Trying to successfully shoot a clay pigeon as it flies across a range is no easy task even under normal circumstances. This weekend the Worthington High School trapshooting team will be trying to do so at the biggest competition of the year at the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League state tournament.
WORTHINGTON — Trying to successfully shoot a clay pigeon as it flies across a range is no easy task even under normal circumstances.
This weekend the Worthington High School trapshooting team will be trying to do so at the biggest competition of the year at the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League state tournament.
Although the team members have been honing their skills all spring at the Worthington Gun Club, there’s nothing that can fully prepare them for shooting on such a big stage.
“The biggest deal is the pressure,” Worthington co-head coach Aaron Sieve said. “(In Worthington) when we shoot there’s 27 pairs of eyes watching you —— up there there’s going to be 400 of them.”
There will be close to 600 competitors at this year’s competition alone, with countless other coaches and family members also in set to be in attendance.
“There are a lot of people there, so there’s some pressure with all the people watching you,” WHS team member Jonah Oberloh said.
For veterans on the team such as Oberloh and Tyler Honken, the experience has become less nerve-wracking every year.
“The first year we went up there, that was kind of scary,” Honken said. “There were a lot of people there, and we’re from a little town down in Southwestern Minnesota.
“You learn to concentrate more on shooting rather than talking to your buddy or something. It’s a lot more serious up there — they take it a lot more seriously.”
“You just think, ‘Well, I know there’s going to be people watching me, so I won’t let that bother me,’” Oberloh added.
This is the third year that the MSHSCTL has had a state tournament. As a founding member of the league, Worthington has competed every year.
Dealing with the pressure of competing at the Minneapolis Gun Club with unfamiliar competition from around the state hasn’t usually been a problem for the team.
“Every year we’ve gone to state we’ve had kids that have shot their best scores up there,” Worthington co-head coach Chris Kruse said. “We’ve done well up there.”
Two years ago Worthington found immediate success by placing second in the JV division behind a second-place finish by Honken. Last year the team again saw success when Mike Hillsheim placed second in the novice division.
The WHS team has nearly doubled in each new season since its founding. This year was no exception, with the team bringing its largest group of kids yet to compete in Prior Lake.
The skill level of the team is also at an all-time high, with 20 out of 27 team members that will be making the trip set to compete at the varsity level.
“Every year you see the veterans are definitely getting some consistency and the new ones every year are showing good progress throughout the year,” Kruse said.
As the Worthington team has steadily grown, the number of teams competing in the league has also risen each year.
This season WHS was one of 29 teams across the state involved in the league, competing in the South Conference against seven other teams, including New Richland, New Prague, Jordan, Prior Lake and Tracy.
League competition consists of four weeks of head-to-head competition, with three points available (high gun overall, best five-person squad and overall team average) in each head-to-head matchup.
Worthington placed fourth in the conference after earning a total of seven points in its four matchups. New Richland won the conference with 10 points.
WHS won 2-1 against New Prague in week one, lost 2-1 to Prior Lake in week two, lost 2-1 to Jordan in week three and won 3-0 against Tracy in week four.
One very positive result was that Worthington never lost the point for highest total team average any week. WHS will take the highest team average in the state into this weekend’s competition.
“As a club, we are the highest in the state,” Sieve said. “We’re right even with a lot of teams, but overall we have the highest total team average. To me that’s the biggest part of being a team.”
The spring season has been chaotic for WHS, with high winds blowing almost every time the team competed, but wind shouldn’t be a problem at the Minneapolis Gun Club.
“That’s a big difference — we catch a lot of the wind here, but the Minneapolis Gun Club where we’re shooting is kind of contained inside the Cities,” Kruse said. “Both years we’ve been up there it’s been pretty much ideal shooting.”
With the competition slated to start at 9 a.m. today and wrap up on Sunday, the only thing left for the team to do is go out and add to the history it has already made at the event.
“We should have two varsity teams do very well, and our junior varsity team should also do very well,” Sieve said.
In order to come out with the best results, team members such as Oberloh are keeping things as simple as possible.
“Just go up there and shoot the best you can and hopefully win something,” Oberloh said. “Just concentrate more while you’re there and see who you can beat.”