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Pequot Lakes, PR-Backus now have separate trap shooting teams

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The participation increase for the Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus trap shooting teams led to their separation this spring. The teams were combined the previous two years, but the participation numbers steadily grew from seven in 2012 to 34 shooters last spring. The projected growth for this season would have made it difficult to practice with one large group.

“It was probably good that we split from Pequot Lakes this year because both schools had a good turnout,” said PR-B coach Molly Keefe. “We only have the two traps on the Pine River range so it would take a long time to get 50 students through.”

Pequot Lakes opens with 21 shooters while PR-B has 33 students. Across the state, there are currently 189 high schools with a trap shooting teams and more than 6,100 shooters. There were just 29 high school teams in Minnesota for the 2011 season.

Each school shoots its competitive rounds on its own over a five-week period that starts April 20. The scores are then used for postseason competition.

The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League hosts an annual championship from June 6-10, in Alexandria. Top shooters from that meet will then advance to the first Minnesota State High School League state tournament on June 14, in Prior Lake.

Following are previews for both area teams:

Pequot Lakes team

The five class levels of teams in MInnesota are based on each school’s roster size. Pequot Lakes will compete with eight other teams in Conference 7 of Class A. Other teams in the conference include: Bloomington Kennedy, Hutchinson, Lakeview, Math of Science in Woodbury, Mounds View, St. Louis Park and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

“It’s early in the season, but we’re averaging 38.7 (out of 50 targets),” said Steven Weagel, who is one of the coaches for Pequot Lakes. “That’s pretty good since 12 of our kids have never competed before.

“I know our average will improve. My goal is to have a 40-plus average for our team.”

Other Pequot Lakes’ coaches are Nikki Shoutz, David Grell, Travis Aune, Robbie Newton, Tom Deimert, Rob Abear, Roger Schroeder and Troy Peterson.

Team members include: Ashley Abear, Trenton Beyer, Christian Burnett, Elicia Buschmann, Brady Evenson, Jordan Hall, Kirk Johnson, Jack Keiffer, Jordan Lelwica, Zach Lyonais, Austin Mesenbrink, Trent Midthun, Isaiah Moengen, Justin Neumann, Chris Newton, Erik Olson, Jacob Roubal, Nick Salvevold, David Schroeder, Alex Tappe and Sam Wallace.

Shooters will compete in one of three categories at the championships in Alexandria - varsity, junior varsity or novice based on their average. Those who finish on the top 100 of their conference, and attended all five competition weeks, advance to the MSHSL state tournament.

Pequot Lakes shoots every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Lakeshore Conservation Club on County Rd 77 across from Ski Gull.

PR-Backus team

The Pine River-Backus trap shooting team will compete in Conference 5 of Class AA. Other teams in the conference are Alden-Conger, Andover, Champlin Park, Coon Rapids, Cretin-Derham Hall, International Falls, Kenyon-Wanamingo and Watertown-Elysian-Morristown.

“We had one student (Shane Sepin) who has already shot 25 straight this year,” said Keefe, whose team shoots at noon each Sunday at the Pine River Trap Range.

Team members include: Alexandra, Jared and Kayla Adkins, Logan Bauman, Nikoa Cooper, Luke Downie, Eldon Eastvold, Jesse Skstrand, Dale Ford, Hannalee France, Hudson Gatton, Brady Hamilton, Mikayla Hudak, Tristen Hulke, Camden Korwin-Kuczynski, Jordan Lightner, Jace Loge, Brandon Mager, Austin and Tyler McAllister, Austin and Dante Nieman, Austin and Tanner Orth, Bret Reed, Joshua Schuck, Shane Sepin, Jacob Shetka, Tanner and Weston Smith, Austin Stockman, Dustin Voyles and Cassandra Wolkenhauer.

Other PR-B coaches include: Zach Abraham, Dean Lorenson, Mark Korwin-Kuczynski, Kevin Adkins, Dave Sheley, Doug Reddick, Tracy and Darrell Wolkenhauer.

“Trap shooting is a great sport for students who are not in other spring sports,” Keefe said. “We encourage the public to come out and watch them shoot.”