Roseau trap team places third in national championship

Trap Nationals Pic 2
The Roseau Rams third-place clay target team: front (l-r) Dave Dirks (coach), Jazmine Dirks, Tyler Dirks, Beau Keagle, and Darren Hedlund (coach); back row (l-r) Evan Peppel, Henry Finney, Ethan Tesarek, and Nolan Hanson. (Photo courtesy of USAHSCTL)

Roseau, Minn. — One thousand shots, 37 misses. That accuracy – better than 96% – earned the Roseau High School trap team third place earlier this month at the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship in Mason, Mich.

Two teams bettered that red-hot shooting display – a team from Illinois that missed just 31 clays, and one from Kansas, which missed 33.

“It’s just phenomenal,” said Roseau’s assistant coach and range safety coordinator, Dave Dirks. Not only was he referring to his team’s shooting but that of others, and the level of competition at the event held July 9-11.

“The competition has gotten so high, it’s incredible,” Dirks said.

Because the pandemic forced cancellation of last year’s national championship, the Roseau team, winners of the 2019 event, was out to defend its championship.

“Teams knew who we were this year,” Dirks said. “There was no sneaking up on anybody.”

That was an aspect, he added, “that was pretty cool for our kids.” Some of the teams shooters also were a part of the 2019 championship team.

It’s an 18-hour bus ride from Roseau to Mason. And young shooters face off against each other with thousands of sets of eyes watching them compete. Dirks said the team has learned much since it first competed at the national championship in 2018, when it finished 25th.

“That was really a learning year for us,” he said. “We didn’t know what we were getting into.”

This year, for several team members, the competition brought no surprises – from the bus ride to registration to the level of competition to the huge audience.

Roseau’s full team consisted of 53 shooters this year, according to Dirks. Forty-seven of them shot at the state competition in Alexandria in June, and seven traveled to Mason. About 30 Minnesota high schools had teams at the national championship.

What Dirks noticed this year at the national championship was more high schools bringing multiple squads. It’s an added expense, he said, but gaining the experience there is invaluable.

“It’s well worth it,” he said.

About 160 teams qualified for the national championship finals. Also, about 1,700 qualified in the individual event. Two Minnesota high-schoolers finished in the top 10: Noah Heimermann, of Austin High School, Minnesota, who scored a 198 out of 200 clays for sixth place, and Bradyn Romsdahl, of Comfrey High School, Minnesota, who also broke 198 of 200 clays and finished in ninth place, based on the league’s scoring system.

How tough was the competition?

Here’s how it was described by the USA High School Clay Target League:

The top three places in the individual championship were determined by a shoot-off, after (high school teammates) Landon Sievers (Illinois) and Steven Margherio (Illinois), and Tanner Sells (Kansas) each shot a perfect 200-straight in the main competition.

The athletes took three rounds – each from an increasingly farther distance away than regulation – to determine the final standings.

Sells missed his 13th target out at a distance of 24 yards – 8 yards farther than regulation targets.

Margherio was the next to go with target 28 at 27 yards, locking his spot at runner-up while his teammate from Calhoun High School took championship honors.

Dirks said his son and a member of the Roseau team, Tyler Dirks, took some time away from shooting after the national event. Likely, to rest his shoulder.

“They shoot 600 rounds a day, easily,” Dave Dirks said, referring to practice rounds, as well as individual and team competitions. “Maybe even 800.”

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