Southwest shooters were again among the nation's elite with the junior high squad finishing fourth at Nationals and the high school team placing fifth. The national competition took place Aug. 6 and 7 at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, Ill.
The Southwest Junior High Team of Charly Phillips, Alan McNabb, Eli Bridges, Jason Cockrum and Johnathon Wolf shot a team score of 941 out of 1,000 targets. Only 12 targets separated Southwest from the first place team from Ohio. A team from Tennessee took second place and a team from the St. Louis are finished third.
"Our team shot very consistent both days of the tournament, which is exactly what they needed to do at this level," said Southwest Trap Team Coach Mike Vining. "When only 12 targets separate first from fourth place that shows you how competitive it is at the national level. Anytime you can finish in the top 10 at this shoot, you have got to be pleased."
The Southwest High School Team, which includes Tyler Cockrum, Matthew Snyder, Tyler Wallace, Lindsay Hutson and Brittany Wright, took fifth place behind teams from Kansas City, St. Louis, the state of Nevada and California. Southwest hit 960 out of 1,000 targets and missed fourth place by only one target.
"Eleven targets separated us from the top score, so we were right in the thick of it both days," said Vining.
Hutson was the only senior represented on this year's high school squad, and Vining said her talent will be missed.
"Lindsay is one of the most solid shooters we have ever had here at Southwest," said Vining. "I can't even remember the last time she shot below a 95. It makes it nice when you can count on a shooter to shoot a 97 out of 100 every trip out."
In addition to her ability to shoot, Hutson provided her teammates with senior leadership.
"Lindsay had the ability to keep her teammates calm under pressure," Vining said. "We will all miss her leadership, and as with our other seniors we have had in the past, I am sure she will continue to succeed in her future endeavors."
Also travelling with Southwest to compete at nationals were Dustin Swiggart, Mickie Catron, Eric Anderson and Leonard Patterson.
"I was very proud of these young shooters who stepped up and shot very well this year," said Vining. "Most all of the kids shot personal bests up there (at nationals), which is a great way for them to end the season. They will hit the ground running when we fire it up again in January."
Competition at the state and national shoots is fierce, and year after year, Southwest finishes among the top teams in Missouri and across the nation.
"We finished third last June at the state level to qualify for nationals with scores that would have won about every other state's championship," said Vining. "You have to beat the best to bring home a national title, and we are among the best every year right here in Missouri as well as at the national level.
"Words can't describe how proud I am of these young athletes," added Vining. "To shoot the way they do while under tremendous pressure is simply amazing."
Vining is assisted by Rick Wright who is credited by Vining with ensuring that Southwest produces top shooters.
"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 10 at nationals for five out of the last six years and that says a lot for the work he does for us."
"Again, thank you to all in our Southwest trap team family for all your hard work to make last season the success it was," Vining said.
Both Southwest trap team coaches hope that members of the community will recognize the accomplishments of these young athletes.
"These kids are participating in a sport that doesn't get a lot of media attention or support like some of the mainstream sports do," said Vining. "They love what they do and take pride in representing their school, area community, and in the case of nationals, their state.
"If you happen to see one of these outstanding young athletes, I encourage you to let them know what a great job they do," said Vining. "I know it would mean a lot to them."