The Southwest high school team of Matthew Snyder, Tyler Wallace, Alan McNabb, Dustin Swigart and Brittany Wright finished eighth out of 130 teams competing at nationals.
Snyder, a sophomore, and Wallace, a junior, shot a perfect 100 out of 100 in the first round. McNabb, a freshman, shot 99 out of 100, and Swigart, a junior, and Wright, a sophomore, rounded out the shooting with scores of 98 and 97 respectively for an impressive team total of 497 out of 500.
On the second day of the competition, Southwest didn't fare as well. Battling 102 degree temperatures and some nerves, Southwest shot 482 out of 500 to finish eighth overall.
"We still shot a great round on the second day, but at a shoot of this caliber, you simply have to be in the 490s both days to win it," said Coach Mike Vining. "Even though the kids knew it was theirs to win, we just never could get it going in the second round like we did the previous day."
Vining said a top 10 finish at nationals is something the team and community can be proud of.
"We actually put ourselves in a position to win this thing after the first day," said Vining. "They shocked the field with a score of 494 out of 500. Dropping just six targets out of 500 is simply phenomenal."
The top team in the high school division was Waterfall Valley, Ala., who shot 987 out of 1,000. Other teams who finished ahead of Southwest included Morristown, Tenn., Brigham City, Utah, Silver State, Nev., Lehigh Valley, Pa., St. Louis and Branson. Southwest tied for eighth with teams from San Diego, Calif., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
The junior high trap team from Southwest ended their national championships with a sixth place finish out of a field of 52 teams from Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Arizona.
"Our junior high team actually performed just the opposite of our high school team," said Vining. "They shot a decent score the first round, then really turned it on the second day and helped themselves tremendously."
Charly Phillips and Eli Bridges led the junior high squad with two-round scores of 193 out of 200. Eric Anderson followed with a 191, Johnathon Wolf posted a 187 and Jason Cockrum finished with a 186 for a total team total of 950 out of 1,000.
"Anytime you can have your junior high kids shoot a team average of 95 out of 100 you have to be happy," said Vining. "The first place squad (from Harrisburg, Ark.) averaged a 97, so we were right in there.
"We were very pleased with the never quit attitude they came out with," added Vining, who also praised the shooting of Micki Catron, Kordell McNabb and Jerry Tyler.
"I can't wait to see how all eight of these athletes mature by the time they reach high school," said Vining, who is assisted by Rick Wright. "Southwest has a very bright future ahead of them for many years to come with these young shooters."
Vining and Wright concluded that this year's national competition was the toughest Southwest had seen in the past eight years.
"It gets tougher and tougher every year at the national championships, but our little group of shooters seem to rise to the challenge each year," Vining said.
As head coach, Vining relies on the support of Wright and the assistance of parents who provided water and electrolytes, cold wet towels and whatever was needed to keep the athletes comfortable between rounds.
"This all made a huge difference in our performance," said Vining. "Everyone should be proud of how Southwest has represented not only the Washburn and Seligman area but Barry County and the state of Missouri as well."