The Brandon-Evansville Clay Target team members are used to performing in some tough weather conditions.
Programs throughout the state have no choice but to shoot in them when their name is called. So it came as no surprise that the Chargers were ready for some mist and a strong crosswind during the morning session of the Class 2A Minnesota High School Clay Target League championship in Alexandria on Wednesday.
“One thing that I have learned this year is trap shooting is a game of adjustments,” sophomore Colton Sherman said after busting 49 of 50 clays in the morning. “Sunny, calm days you don’t have to shoot as fast, you don’t have to be as focused. When the conditions pick up like this you have to maybe change a couple things, change your gun hold on the house. I was holding a lower gun. I was really locking on the clays before I was even moving the gun. It’s just how you can adjust in these conditions and how well you can shoot in them.”
The top shooters in the state can adjust to anything because they’ve practiced in almost everything. Sherman is definitely in that class. He shot a 97 on Wednesday after powdering 48 in the afternoon. That tied him with Minnewaska’s Carson Tauber for second individually. Wheaton’s Hunter Johnson was alone in first with a 98.
Sherman came into the championship tied for the seventh best average in the league with a 24.3 out of a possible 25. That’s seventh out of more than 10,000 students that now shoot in the always-expanding MSHSCTL.
“I shoot to the best of my abilities,” Sherman said. “I try not to miss. You can’t really go out there and say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to shoot 50 straight, or yeah, I’m going to go run 100.’ I’ve practiced a lot. I’ve shot a lot. I have great coaching. All the coaches for Brandon-Evansville and all the coaches for Alexandria that really raised me into this, everyone has just built me up so much, and I’m at the point now where I can start flying on my own.”
The Chargers are like a lot of teams around the state in that they continue to grow. Their roster includes 25 kids this spring, which bumped them up to Class 2A in this year’s championship. They made the last two Class A state tournaments and now will add a third straight trip to the Minneapolis Gun Club on June 25 after being one of six Class 2A teams to qualify on Wednesday.
They took sixth with a score of 445, while Minnewaska also qualified by taking fourth with a 449. Tanner Steffen wasn’t far behind Tauber with a 93. Dustin Peterson shot an 89, Tyler Hagen an 87 and Brandon Wacker an 83.
The Chargers needed every clay they got after finishing in the last qualifying team spot. They beat the program from Truman by just two clays.
“It’s a fun atmosphere,” sophomore Michael Schroeder said of this group. “But when it comes time to shoot, we get serious.”
Schroeder was locked in himself on Wednesday morning after busting 45. He finished with an 87 overall, good for third on the team.
“The last couple practices I had been shooting pretty bad,” Schroeder said after the morning. “I’m pretty proud of myself now.”
Chris Johnson had an 88 to finish second on the team. Jake Nohre finished with an 87 after shooting a 47 in the afternoon, which included a perfect round of 25. McKenon Plaster had an 86 to finish off the team scoring.
Sherman knew he was going to the state tournament next week as part of the top 100 individuals who qualified already. Going as a team is what he had hits sights set on this week.
“That was one of my goals for this shoot was for us to qualify as a team,” he said.
The shooters who perform at these types of events know they have to be almost perfect to win. This year’s shoot in Alexandria features 6,913 student athletes competing and is expected to draw nearly 25,000 spectators June 14-21.
The stakes are ratcheted up even further at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake next week with all of the best shooters gathered and overall titles on the line. Sherman knows all about that after shooting a 91 at that event a year ago.
“I’m pretty much going into Prior Lake with the mindset that if you miss, you’re out,” Sherman said. “A 100 won it last year. A 99 won it the year before and that’s awesome. You take 100 of the best shooters in the state, and I would hope someone would be able to pull off a score like that.”
Sherman was one of the shooters who did that two years ago. He finished second with a 98 as an eighth grader, so he felt the pressure to live up to that again heading into last year’s meet.
“That’s why I crumbled,” he said. “I just put so much pressure on myself because in eighth grade I took second in state with a 98, and I was like, ‘Well, I have to shoot 100 straight this year.’ I got to do this, I got to do that.’ I realize now that you shoot to the best of your abilities and if you miss, so be it. Don’t let it get in your head.”
Sherman hopes that approach can carry him back near the top of the leaderboard. It’s a tough challenge with guys like Kory Miller of Apple Valley and Max Bunning of Wayzata, both with a state-best 24.7 average, among the loaded field.
Sherman has put himself in that class. He knows it will take one of his best days to compete against these kinds of shooters, but he’s excited for the challenge.
“I’m going to be down there shooting against Bunning and Kory Miller and those guys,” he said. “They’re all incredible shooters. They all have way more shells under their belt than I do. There’s a shooter from New Prague — Ben Dietz — he’s an All American. For him to run 100 straight probably isn’t that big of deal. I’ve only shot 100 straight my entire life. It would be awesome to shoot another one, but it all depends on how you shoot.”
CLASS 2A SUMMARY
STATE QUALIFIERS – Worthington – 464; Medford – 454; Wheaton – 449; Minnewaska – 449; St. Louis Park – 449; Brandon-Evansville – 445
B-E VARSITY SCORES – Jacob Hintermeister – 36, 38 – 74; Gaven Jacobson – 35, 38 – 73; Johnson – 43, 45 – 88; Jordan Lund – 36, 38 – 74; Brandon Merritt – 39, 44 – 83; Nohre – 40, 47 – 87; Plaster – 44, 42 – 86; Sadie Roers – 33, 40 – 73; Chase Schmidt – 43, 39 – 82; Schroeder – 45, 42 – 87; Sherman – 49, 48 – 97; Nicholas Thorstad – 41, 41 – 82; Ethan Way – 38, 30 – 68