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PL, PR-B take aim at championships

Freshman David Schroeder, left, is a member of the Pequot Lakes High School trap shooting team while Shane Sepin is a senior with the Pine River-Backus team. Schroeder was a Top Gun three times during the competitive season while Sepin was Top Gun all five weeks. Photo by Pete Mohs

Area teams prepare for meet this weekend in Alexandria

Splitting a team into two teams can often reduce the quality of both programs.

But that wasn’t the case this spring for the Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus trap shooting teams.

The Pequot Lakes team finished the regular season as Conference 7A champions while PR-B finished fifth in Conference 5AA.

“Our kids kept getting better week after week,” said Pequot Lakes coach Steven Weagel. “The kids were very coachable. If they follow what I told them, they would got better. Shooting comes down to consistently mounting the gun in the right position on your shoulder. That’s the No. 1 key.”

PR-B coach Molly O’Keefe was also pleased with her team’s season.

“Overall, I’m very happy with the regular season,” O’Keefe said. “We finished in the top five in a bigger class, and we had two shooters that were No. 1 in our conference in Shane Sepin and Kayla Adkins. That’s a great accomplishment and we’re proud of them.”

The five weeks of regular season competition has ended, and now the top teams and individuals travel to Alexandria for the Minnesota High School Clay Target League championship on June 6-10. Pequot Lakes will compete in Class A shooting on June 6, while PR-B is a Class AA team competing on June 7. Students will have the opportunity to shoot four rounds of 25 targets.

Individually, Pequot Lakes is led by freshman David Schroeder, who was the team’s weekly Top Gun three times out of five weeks of the regular season while PR-B was led by Shane Sepin, the school’s Top Gun for all five weeks. Sepin also had the highest average with 23.2 (out of 25 targets) in the conference while teammate Kayla Adkins was the top girl in the conference,

Schroeder and Sepin are also among the top overall 100 shooters out of 6,100 in the state.

“David (Schroeder) is averaging 22.5,” Weagel said of Schroeder. “He helped us win the conference, and also have the seventh highest average in Class A.”

O’Keefe also praised Sepin’s shooting ability.

“Shane is a great shooter who shot three perfect rounds of 25 this year,” she said of Sepin, who has been on the team the past three years.

Sepin and Schroeder both said a key to their trap shooting success has been “growing up” shooting as hunters.

As for this weekend’s championship meet in Alexandria, Weagel knows what his team needs to do to be one of the nine Class A teams to advance to the first Minnesota State High School League tournament in Prior Lake on June 13-14. Five teams from Class AA will advance.

“We want to move on to the MSHSL tournament as a team,” he said. “What we need to do to move on as a team is have five shooters break 90 targets or better out of 100 (at Alexandria). I’ve had 12 different kids this year that have shot that well (90 percent) out of 50.

“Our goal, which is attainable, is also to win the Class A championship. If the kids can focus, and shoot to their ability, it’s entirely possible because we’re getting better every week, and the kids, and their parents, are starting to believe.”

O’Keefe said her team is “excited” to compete in Alexandria, which is the largest youth tournament in the world.

“I think our shooters will do great,” she said. “There are so many schools and it’s always a great experience. I think we have a good chance of making it to the MSHSL tournament, but even if we don’t, we’ve still had a great year.”

A total of 24 teams will qualify for the MSHSL tournament from the five classes. A total of four teams advance from Class AAA on June 8, three teams from Class AAAA on June 9, and three teams from Class AAAAA on June 10.

The top 100 individuals will also compete at the state meet.