Similar to other spring sports, the clay target team was cut short of a season last spring. Luckily, they were able to put together a season in the fall for those that wanted to join, but this did not include everyone. COVID-19 took away from many seniors last year, so this year the competitors and coaches are looking forward more than ever to have some competitions.
The team includes 16 seniors, 10 juniors, 22 sophomores, 12 freshmen, 18 eighth graders and 13 seventh graders. This is a total of 91 student athletes on the clay target team; there are 75 boys and 16 girls. Owatonna Clay Target is one of the largest eight teams in Minnesota after only five years. Clay Target is one of the fastest and safest growing sports in the state.
On Monday, April 19 and Wednesday, April 21 the team shot for reserve week. This is two days where they total scores and will use them if there is an instance where the team cannot shoot in a competition. After this, every week for the next five weeks will be competitions. Although COVID-19 impacted their season last year, it has not done much damage this year. The teammates wear masks when waiting to start the competitions and after they finish. Individuals stay distanced when shooting and cooperate with the safety guidelines. Spectators are welcomed to watch the athletes compete in the trap field. All competitions are held at the Owatonna Gun Club. Fans are expected to bring masks and stay socially distanced from others.
Clay target is led by three senior captains: James Henrickson, Joe Earl and Ethan Koziolek. Having a form of leadership is important for high school sports, especially with a team this big. Henrickson said, “I am incredibly excited about this season. We are finally able to get back to shooting with the entire team and it is just a much more enjoyable experience when everyone is there.”
An important part of this clay target season is its dedication to Coach Kyle Wolfe. Unfortunately, Coach Wolfe passed away earlier this year. Head coach Mike Kingland said, “Coach Wolfe was known for his infectious smile, unequalled knowledge for our sport and his endless enthusiasm. Coach Kyle made a difference in our athletes’ lives, both on the range and away from it.” Although the athletes hold sorrow for the loss of their former coach, they are dedicating their season to his remembrance.
This year’s clay target team is expected to perform well. Kingland said, “We have a very talented group of athletes returning that is now combined with a promising group of new athletes. I truly expect us to be a contender for the conference title.” On April 24, the Huskies competed in the Dave Schroeder Memorial High School Invitational event. This is an Owatonna Gun Club event in memory of the team founder, first head coach and board member, Dave Schroeder. Since the Huskies are a virtual team, they will not be in the trap range with other teams until the MN Trap Shooting Championship. This event was a good experience to have competed against other teams in the area. Athletes shot 2 rounds of 25 targets each which is the typical competition. Many of the Huskies in this event grades 8-12 placed at first and second place.