NRHEG team hits the target with sport

Published 9:00 am Saturday, February 24, 2018

NEW RICHLAND — Five members of the NRHEG clay target team gather on a cold winter day between fall and spring shooting seasons.

For these students, the team allows them to enjoy a sport they love without needing to meet the physical standards sports such as football and basketball require.

Since 2011, NRHEG has fielded a team with students from the district, as well as students from Albert Lea, Owatonna and Janesville-Waldorf Pemberton schools for a majority of years.

Email newsletter signup

During the season, the team participates in once-a-week shoots and sends the scores in, competing with schools such as Hermantown, Alexandria, Blaine and other programs.

Most participants shoot clay targets with a 12-gauge shotgun, but players with a smaller stature participate with a 20-gauge firearm.

The divisions the Panthers compete in are decided by team size, meaning the team competes against a wider array of schools than other sports.

NRHEG has qualified for state two of the last four years it has competed.

“We’re a competitive team,” head coach Dan Sorum said.

A member of the NRHEG Clay Shooting team participates in a shoot. — Submitted

The team has seen an extensive increase in participation since Sorum started the program at NRHEG in 2011. He was driven to start the team after helping oversee regular trap shoots as an FFA adviser in the 1990s.

“I found that this league existed,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, let’s see if kids want to do it here.’ And we got 14 kids that first year, and parents loved it and kids loved it. And it just boomed after that.”

Forty-five students participated in the team last fall, with 62 in the spring. Team members said increased local participation in the sport comes as the sport’s popularity increases statewide.

“It’s very fun,” said team member Chancellor Olson. “It’s very competitive.”

“It’s just such a good feeling to see yourself improve and see yourself grow and become a better shooter,” said Olson’s brother and fellow team member, Aaron Olson.

Team members said clay shooting is not as intensive as football and other sports, and shooters who are not physically gifted can still participate in the program if they can shoot safely.

Team members have participated even after suffering injuries that would have rendered them unavailable to participate in other sports.

NRHEG student Caden Beauvais participated in a shooting competition while utilizing a walker after breaking his leg.

The Minnesota State High School clay target league is operated by the USA High School clay target league. The state league is an independent provider of shooting sports as an extracurricular co-education activity for students in sixth through 12th grades.

Sorum said players are vigilant about being safe while shooting.

“They have a lot of fun, but they take safety very seriously,” he said.

2017 fall clay target roster

Hudson Aase

Parker Aase

Noah Alinder

Matthew Bartness

Justin Bartz

Caden Beauvais

Evan Beckmann

Tory Christenson

Gabe Dahle

Levi Denherder

Alex Dobberstein

Evan Dobberstein

Gaven Harris

Dylan Ingvaldson

Dalton Kraay

Walker Krampitz

Keira Lenort

Ross Lenort

Trevor Lenort

Makota Misgen

Grady Murphy

Aaron Olson

Chancellor Olson

Jack Olson

Andrew Phillips

Charles Pittman

Braxtyn Possin

Ashton Raimann

Andrew Reich

Evan Reyna

Ralph Roesler

Alex Romer

Andrey Rosevold-Wisler

Braden Routh

Hanna Sack

Morgan Sack

Tristan Simon

Jacob Skinness

Carter Stencel

Clay Stencel

Carter Suchanek

Hunter Tufte

Ashton Worke

Sam Zimmerman

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

email author More by Sam