The Park Rapids Clay Dusters trap-shooting team recently concluded the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League's 2017 fall season by placing sixth in the Class A Conference 13 standings.
Cole Girtz finished fourth individually among the boys with a 24.00 average after five weekly conference competitions. Blake Johnson had a 22.90 average to place 11th in the conference while Ean Voigt was 20th with a 22.30 average. Jon Wyffels of Lakeview had the top average of 24.40 out of a possible 25.00 average.
For the girls, Sally Yliniemi was third with a 20.90 average and Zoe Flath was seventh with a 19.90 average. Also making the top-25 in the conference for Park Rapids were Arianne Warmbold (13th at 18.50), Samantha Yliniemi (14th at 18.20), Brianna Weckwerth (16th at 18.20) and Megan Offerdahl (18th at 17.30). Lakeview's Mckenzy Grunewald had the top average of 21.60.
Park Rapids finished sixth as a team with 9,657.50 points with scores of 2,068.50 in Week 1, 2,122 in Week 2, 2,280.50 in Week 3, 1,820.50 in Week 4 and 1,366 in Week 5. Pequot Lakes topped the conference standings with 16,055 points while Stewartville (12,713 points), Lakeview (11,109 points), Cambridge-Isanti (10,631.50 points) and Benilde-St. Margaret's (10,159.50 points) followed. Rounding out the eight-team conference standings were Cannon Falls with 7,721 points and Kasson-Mantorville with 7,053.50 points. There were 113 Minnesota schools in 17 conferences competing in the fall league.
Girtz was the top shooter at the season-ending Fall Invitational at Alexandria on Oct. 28 by hitting 99 out of 100 targets. Flath led the girls with a 90 as Park Rapids finished third with 429 points. Alexandria was first with 476 points while Minnewaska Area followed with 460 points. Other top scores for Park Rapids included Andrew Bittmann (80), Logan Nevala (80), Samantha Yliniemi (80), Luke Kosel (78), Landen Burlingame (76), Kaiden Walsh (74) and Cole Bethel (72).
"There's not as many teams in the fall league, but it gave us another season to shoot," said Park Rapids coach Jared Hoefs.
The fall season is three weeks shorter than the spring season and does not offer an end-of-the-season tournament. The league creates a "virtual" competition among high school teams throughout Minnesota. Practices and competitions are conducted at shooting ranges near each school's location. Conferences are determined by team size rather than geographic locations for fair competition. The league is co-ed and open to students in grades 6 through 12 with emphasis on safety, fun and marksmanship. Each student is required to pass a comprehensive firearm safety education course prior to participation. Nationwide, more than 20,000 students representing 600 schools in 15 states participate in the league.
"The fall league is a way for high schools to continue offering clay target shooting as an activity for those students that don't participate in other fall sports," said MNSHSCTL Vice President John Nelson.