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Trapshooting: Worthington shooters taking aim

WORTHINGTON — Clay pigeons don’t stand a chance against 23 Worthington High School sharpshooters.

Friday, the WHS trapshooting team will be in action at the Class A Minnesota High School League Clay Target Championships in Alexandria. The top nine teams in Class A will advance to the Minnesota State High School League state tournament on June 14 in Prior Lake.

In 2014, the MSHSL became first and only state athletic association in the U.S. to sanction a trapshooting tournament.

Worthington has showed through the 2014 spring that it is gunning to be a part of that inaugural class of state qualifiers. The Trojans won the Class A Conference 8 title and put eight of its 23 shooters among the top 25 individuals in the conference.

Along with the top nine teams, the best 100 individuals in each class at Alexandria advance to the state tournament. Donovan Bruns and Erik Landgaard have already cemented a spot at state with their season averages.

According to coach Chris Kruse, however, it certainly wasn’t just those two who put Worthington atop its conference.

“The kids have been pretty consistent,” Kruse said. “(Coach) Aaron (Sieve) and I like the fact that it’s not just one or two kids that stand out. We don’t know who our top shooters are going to be from week to week. Last year, we had two kids who finished with the varsity average and we’ve improved a ton.

That’s why we won the conference; team consistency.”

During the five-week-long regular season, each member of the team shoots 50 rounds every Thursday night at the Worthington Gun Club. Team scores are factored by total targets hit by the top five shooters during that week’s competition. By season’s end, Worthington had the highest team score in its conference.

Bruns and Landgaard both finished the season with an average of 22.5 — meaning on average they hit 45 of 50 targets — to tie for sixth in the conference individually. Zach Bruns (22), Nathan Patten (21.80), Zak Abdulrahman (21.70), Zach Heidebrink (21.40), Nicholas Demuth (20.80) and Tanner Barrie (20.60) were all part of the top 25 in the conference.

At Alexandria Friday, Worthington will be in the trap at 10 a.m. for its first 50 shots. Later in the day, it will shoot 50 more. Like the regular season, the top five shooters will make up the team scores to determine who will qualify for the MSHSL state competition.

For the Trojans, that means they’ll have 23 total shooters who have a chance to make some noise at the state qualifying meet.

“We like that every kid does participate,” Kruse said. “We don’t have to make a starting lineup or put kids on varsity and JV or anything like that. And anybody (in ninth grade or older) can do it. We have a good mix. Some kids play football or other sports and for some this is their only sport.”

Each high school team is invited to compete at the Clay Target Championships, making for a deep field and some stiff competition. Last year, Kruse said the difference between first and seventh place was six birds. There are 68 teams competing in Class A alone at the largest youth trapshooting competition in the world. At least 3,948 student-athletes are expected to participate with more than 15,000 attendees anticipated.

Still, after a highly successful spring, Kruse said his team is feeling good about where it’s at.

“We have high expectations,” he said. “We feel like we have a good chance to bring the team to Prior Lake.”

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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