HIBBING — It can be fair to say that the Hibbing High School trapshooting team has one stated goal in mind when they toe the shooting line for the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League’s State Tournament today in Prior Lake.
After being close a couple of times, the members of the Bluejackets’ trapshooting team have a state championship in mind and they feel it can be achieved if they shoot up to their potential. Hibbing trapshooters who will represent the Bluejackets at state include Sam Juidici, Nathan Johnson, Zet Bennett, Caylee Osborne, Nathan Rude, Tore Tuin and Peter Jensen.
Osborne and Tuin are the lone seniors in the contingent that will be shooting at state today. Osborne said her senior year has been probably her best season yet and that she is excited to be shooting at state. During the season she received High Gun-Female at the Hibbing Invitational and her season average (21.9 out of 25) placed her second in the conference among all females. She also was the second-ranked female at the recent competition in Alexandria, Minn., missing out on High Gun by one bird.
Osborne really picked up her shooting at Alexandria in the Class Championships as she posted three 24s and a 23 for a total score of 95.
“It was the best I have ever shot,” Osborne said. “Right when it mattered, that’s when I pulled out my best score. I think it was just the environment and not even the pressure but what I knew what I had to do to win, too.”
Osborne will be shooting in her first state tournament and she said she is excited to be able to represent her team. She said the goal is to win the state championship.
“Especially my senior year, I will be able to fulfill this goal,” Osborne said. “I think everyone on the team would want to represent our team at Prior Lake and I am so glad that I am able to do that. We are going in with the idea that we are going to win and even though that sounds a little cocky, it is the confidence we need to have in ourselves to be able to perform the best. We are hoping for first, and if not top five wouldn’t be bad.
“Individually, my goal is to shoot 95 or higher which it was for Alexandria too. I think focus and concentration are the main points. We all know we can shoot the birds, we all can do this. So we need to go into the competition in our heads knowing that we can win and we can focus on every bird and every target counts.
“We have been emphasizing every season but specifically now that every target counts because every year it is one bird that is the determining factor for winning. If we just focus on every target, it will dramatically change where we end up placing.”
Tore Tuin is a senior and he will be making his first trip to the state competition. He said everything clicked for him and the team at the Alexandria competition.
“That is one of the best rounds that I have ever put together with that 98,” Tuin said. “As a team we did awesome; everybody came and shot their best. Some kids said they didn’t shoot their best but all together we pulled it together and got the win. That was awesome to see.
“It is a good feeling to know that we made it to state, especially since it is my senior year. It is really gratifying to be able to be shooting on Friday.”
Tuin was an alternate shooter on a Hibbing team that took second place at state and he said the goal this year is to win the state title.
“It was fun to watch us shoot good enough to take second place, but this year with us going down to shoot, our mind set is first place. It always is first place. We have to go out with clear heads and not worry about what everybody else is shooting. If somebody ends up dropping a bird or two birds, somebody else needs to step up on the team and fill in and get those two birds for them.
“We need to shoot good, shoot efficient and shoot well. We have said as a team that every bird counts and in fact we have lost by one, we have lost by two. So everybody has to shoot their best. One bird can make the difference between first and second.”
Tuin has been in the program since its first year and he said the six years he spent in the trapshooting program have been good.
“My experience was great. The coaches were great, the kids were always great, and we never had problems with anything. It is a super fun sport and watching the people before me, they taught me a lot of things. It is something cool to say that I have been in it from the start.”
Nathan Rude is just an eighth grader but he is making his second trip to state. He was one of the five shooters for Hibbing as a seventh grader last year and will serve as the first alternate this year. He has a 23.8 average this year.
“I have gotten a little more experience and I would say I did better this year,” Rude said. “Alexandria went really well; we all shot really good. I didn’t have my best day this year but the rest of the team shot really well.”
Rude said the No. 1 goal at state is to claim a state championship, which has been so close at hand in years past.
“I think we have a really good chance to do it because we have a lot of good shooters on the five-man team,” Rude explained. “I think they are just going to have to concentrate a lot and just focus. It is all about focus, I would say.”
Being in just eighth grade, the future looks bright for Rude. He said he needs to continue to work hard to get better.
“I just want to keep shooting good and just keep going with it,” Rude said. “Not being cocky, but I am good enough to go to state and I would really like to do that over and over again.”
According to a story on mn.traptournament.com, the tournament offers the highest achievers in individual and team trapshooting competition the opportunity to compete and be recognized in a state tournament like all other MSHSL-sanctioned sports. With this achievement, the MSHSL was the first and is only state high school athletic association in the country to recognize and support a trap shooting state tournament.
Unlike the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League’s Championship that invites all participants to compete, the State Tournament invites a select number of top performing teams and individuals to compete in a single-day competition and champions will be awarded coveted MSHSL trophies.