The Southwest Junior High School trap team finished third in the nation behind teams from Ohio and Alabama at the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) National Championship held Aug. 7, 8 and 9 at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, Ill.
"Anytime you can finish in the top 15 at this shoot, you have got to be pleased," said Southwest trap team coach Mike Vining.
The team of Charly Phillips, Matthew Snyder, Brittany Wright, Jason Cockrum and Alan McNabb shot very consistently both days of the tournament and hit 951 out of 1,000 targets. Only five targets separated Southwest from the first place team.
"The kids put in a lot of time shooting during the summer, and I appreciate the work of all the parents that took time to get them to various trap shoots throughout the season," said Vining. "The experience they gained made a lot of difference in their scores and gave them the confidence they needed in their abilities."
Southwest's two high school trap teams finished 11th and 26th in the field of 70 teams entered in the national contest.
The team of Drew Nickols, Josh Rose, Emery Phillips, Lindsay Hutson and Tyler Wallace shot 963 targets out of 1,000 to claim 11th place. The team of Adam Morgan, Bo Stephens, Emily Wolf, Tyler Cockrum and Briana Stephens ended the competition in 26th place with a final team score of 943 out of 1,000 targets.
Vining said Southwest fielded two true high school teams, while most of the other squads competing in the shoot were all-star teams made up of the top shooters from across the state.
"Finishing in the top half of a field at a shoot of this caliber is a great accomplishment," said Vining.
Among the shooters competing for Southwest at nationals were four seniors. Nickols, Rose, Phillips and Morgan shot their last targets as Southwest Trojans at the shoot.
"These four seniors have been shooting for Southwest since the program started during their seventh grade year," said Vining. "These guys have been the heart and soul of the team for a long time and have set standards for our younger shooters that will hopefully keep us at the top levels of the trap world for years to come.
"To you guys and your parents who so generously let me coach them for five years, thank you," Vining added.
Southwest also had a junior high novice team competing in the national shoot. This squad, consisting of Cole Moore, Blake Hayworth, Leonard Patterson, Johnathon Wolf and Austin Morgan, ended the competition with a score of 881 out of 1,000.
"It was very exciting to watch this group as they will be our main junior high squad next season," said Vining. "They are getting a good grasp of the sport."
Other Trojan shooters who competed well in Sparta were Dustin Swigart, Eli Bridges and Mickie Catron, who all shot above their season averages at the national competition.
Vining said the Southwest Trojan trap team has a bright future ahead.
"We have an awesome bunch of underclassmen who will step up next season and keep us very tough," said Vining.
In thanking the entire "Southwest Trap Team family," Vining also recognized the contribution of assistant coach Rick Wright.
"Rick has been a key in making Southwest a perennial power in the trapshooting community," said Vining. "We have had teams finish in the top three at nationals for four out of the last five years and that says a lot for the work he does for us.
"Again, thanks to everyone for your hard work to make last season the success it was," Vining said. "You are appreciated."