Prior Lake, Minn. — Bryan Grotte, a rising sophomore at Fairmont High School, arguably had the best day of all in the field at the Minnesota State High School League’s Clay Target State Tournament at Minneapolis Gun Club.
Grotte knocked down all 100 clays during the afternoon of the event, the only shooter to do so in the individual portion of the tournament.
He’d never hit 100 straight in his life.
“I had two 99s this year,” he said.
With each clay, the pressure mounted, but he held on.
“My hands were shaking a lot, sweating and stuff,” he said after his first place finish. “I did have a couple of close calls. When it came down to the last bird, I had to have it. I couldn’t let it go.”
And this was after his team, Fairmont, in its first appearance at the MSHSL State Tournament (which became the first trap-shooting tournament to be sanctioned by a state high school athletics association last year) took second place, losing to Lakeville South in the team competition via a tie-breaking procedure.
Both teams bested the field by knocking down 464 out of 500 targets. During the team portion of the event, Grotte and teammate Ryan Busche had scores of 95, but Lakeville South’s Andrew Krebs, a rising junior, hit 96, giving his team the win.
“Now they’re all looking back at the one they missed,” said Fairmont coach Todd Segar, who said he was still ecstatic that his team took second place in only the program’s third year of existence. “We didn’t think we were in it.”
In retrospect, Grotte said second place on tie-breakers was a bit disappointing, but he will look fondly back on the day.
Segar said the team didn’t really even keep track of its score as the morning went on, only to find out they were at the top afterwards.
“We had no idea,” he said.
Lakeville South coach Jason Kelvie, on the other hand, had a good feeling after his team hit 234 out of 250 birds in the first session of the morning.
“We knew that would keep us in there,” Kelvie said, noting, though, that last year his team finished in sixth place with a higher score of 472. But that was a day when Buffalo High missed only 11 clays, for a score of 489.
This year, Buffalo finished only one clay shy of third place with a score of 460, behind third-place finisher Monticello, which had a score of 461. Monticello took second place at the event last year, when it finished six targets behind Buffalo.
This year, one more bird for Buffalo would have given them the tiebreaker since Max Hartman had a score of 99, five shots better than Monticello’s best individual scores during the team portion.
Hartman took second place in the individual side, behind Grotte, with one of three 99s in the session. The tie is broken by the longest reverse run of shots, and Hartman hit his last 80 shots.
“I feel pretty good about the day,” said Hartman, noting that he also had a 99 during the team completion. “I missed only two shots (out of 200) on the day.”
Ben Dietz of New Prague took third individually, with Wayzata’s Andrew Rhodes, the other individual to shoot 99, finishing fourth.
Eight individuals hit 98 clays in the afternoon, including St. Michael-Albertville’s Emma Olson and Hibbing’s Brittany Vajdl.
It was a good day for shooting after morning rains pushed back the start by more than an hour. The scores were not as good as last year, but the teams were bunched up. A mere five birds separated first place from sixth place, and 10 shots separated first place from 11th place.
Jordan’s Jack Bischoff was having trouble with his shotgun in between rounds, and the entire team huddled around as his coach Jeff Will attempted to fix the locking mechanism to no avail.
“It wouldn’t lock, it still doesn’t,” Will said as Bischoff and the rest of the squad worked at a round of 25 clays, Bischoff borrowing the exact same make and model from a teammate.
It didn’t faze him. He proceeded to knock down every clay in the round and had the best score on the team with a 92 for the day, as Jordan finished in 17th place with a score of 445.
“I should ask to borrow it again next year,” Bischoff said to his teammate afterward, his face beaming with a smile.