State's best prep trapshooters take aim at first league-sponsored tournament

  • Article by: NATE GOTLIEB , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 10, 2014 - 9:19 PM

Fast-growing trapshooting teams are yielding top shooters as well on the eve of a first-of-its-kind state tournament.

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Wayzata’s Andrew Rhodes and Kerri Mueller chatted during practice before the first MSHL-sponsored trapshooting state tournament.

Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS • kyndell.harkness@startribune.com,

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High school trapshooting hits a new milestone Saturday with the first state tournament endorsed by the Minnesota State High School League.

The competition at the Minnesota Gun Club in Prior Lake will bring together the best of a rapidly growing number of students participating in the sport at the school level.

More than 6,100 students from 380 Minnesota schools participated in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League this spring, according to Jim Sable, the league’s executive director. That’s up nearly 2,000 students from last year and more than 6,000 from 2009.

Twenty-four teams and 104 individuals will compete for state championships Saturday. St. Michael-Albertville will send a state-high eight individuals to the tournament, including the top male and female shooters in the state this spring, Tommy Mavencamp and Emma Olson. Many teams will send one or two individuals, however.

Here is a look at three metro-area schools that will be represented at the competition.

Running to join in Apple Valley

Apple Valley coach John Miller had modest expectations when he approached the school’s principal in December 2011 about starting a trapshooting club.

Miller said he was hoping to get about 25 to 30 students to sign up over the course of two weeks. But after about 15 minutes, the principal called to tell him that about 35 kids had signed up.

“He mentioned that there was so much excitement initially that kids were literally running down to sign up for it,” Miller said.

Apple Valley’s trapshooting team has grown more popular since that first season. More than 50 students have participated in each of the past two years, including 54 this spring.

The team’s growth has paralleled its success. Apple Valley’s varsity squad finished 12th out of 87 teams at the 2013 state tournament in Alexandria, after finishing 26th in 2012.

This spring the Eagles will send senior Ryan Hill and freshman Kory Miller to the state tournament. Hill hit an average of 23.1 out of 25 targets per round this season, and Miller averaged 23 of 25. The pair helped Apple Valley to a fourth-place finish in Class 4A, Conference 2.

Hill, a captain, has been on the team for the past three seasons and posted the third-best scoring average in the conference this spring. He said he’s hoping to finish in the top 25 at state this season, in part by focusing on staying calm.

Miller has been on the team since his seventh-grade year and hit 93 of 100 targets at the state tournament last season. He said he’s hoping to improve on last season’s finish, also by staying strong mentally.

“I just try not to think about anything,” he said of his approach. “If I do miss a target, [I] just try to get by it, just know what [my] mistake was on that target and then just keep going from there.”

Diversity of talent in Blaine

Like Apple Valley, Blaine’s trapshooting team quickly rose to popularity when it started in spring 2012.

Co-head coach Dan Moon said he expected 25 kids to attend the club’s first meeting. Instead about 100 showed up.

  • related content

  • Braedon Heilman of Blaine practiced target shooting in preparation for the upcoming high school state tourney.

  • Apple Valley freshman Kory Miller averaged 23 out of 25 targets.

  • Apple Valley senior Ryan Hill averaged 23.1 out of 25 targets.

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