MHS CTL shooters compete at state

Special to the Independent

Perfection was obtained, personal bests were blown away, and season averages were surpassed by the 12 participants representing the Marshall High School Clay Target League (MHS CTL) team at the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League (MSHSCTL) Championship on Monday, June 9, at the Alexandria Shooting Park in Alexandria.

“I knew midway through the first round we had something special going,” said coach Kevin Kayser. “Our novice shooters were rolling, with our junior varsity and varsity mixed squad waiting in the wings.”

The warm sunny skies and light breezes, which met the 780 competitors in the Class AAAA Championship shoot provided the perfect backdrop for the day and allowed the shooters to focus on the targets and not the weather which had challenged teams across the state during a difficult spring.

With the conditions right, MHS CTL team members Skylar Breczinski, Zachary Fischer, Spencer VanOverbeke, Nick Atcher, Riley Swanson, Cameron VanOverbeke, Malachi Breczinski, Rusty Swanson, Alex Marks, Brandon VanOverbeke, Noah Meister and Kaiden VanOverbeke seized the opportunity to crush some clays and tally up their best scores of the season.

“Right off the bat, the novice squad, consisting of Atcher, the Swanson brothers and cousins Cameron and Kaiden VanOverbeke came off their first two rounds with impressive numbers well above their season averages,” said coach Nick Simonson, “and our varsity-JV squad rode that enthusiasm into their first two rounds as well, making for some very exciting moments from the get-go.”

In Round 1 of the varsity-JV group, Malachi Breczinski strung together 24 straight hits entering his final shot. Up until that point of the season, no MHS CTL member had recorded a perfect round.

“I didn’t realize it until I reached into my pocket and felt my last shell and thought ‘hey, I haven’t missed yet,'” said Malachi Breczinski. “Then I just loaded up and shot.”

His aim was on, the clay was powdered, and he recorded the first perfect round of 25 in the history of the MHS CTL team. On the day, he would go 25-24-23-22 in his four rounds, for a total of 94/100, at one point breaking 40 straight birds through rounds 1 and 2.

Not to be outdone, Brandon VanOverbeke followed up with 25 straight in Round 2 of the varsity-JV squad’s morning shoot. As the anchor for the five-man group, coaches, family and friends in the crowd let out a cheer from the observation area as he sealed the deal on his first perfect round of trapshooting by firing the round’s final shot, which shattered the straight away target.

“I was waiting until state,” he said. “No better place to put up a 25.”

After the varsity-JV squad had finished, each shooter had raised the bar by posting a new season high for a round; Malachi Breczinski and Brandon VanOverbeke with 25, Spencer VanOverbeke with 24, Fischer with 22 and Marks with 22. Novice shooters posting personal best rounds included Atcher with 18, Rusty Swanson with 22, Riley Swanson with 19 and Kaiden VanOverbeke with 19. Meister and Skylar Breczinski, the final two novice shooters, also notched personal bests in their first two rounds, with 21 and 17 respectively.

Following a break, the MHS CTL squads returned to trap house 2A at the Alexandria Shooting Park for their final rounds, with the novice groups shooting one round, and the varsity-JV squad shooting two. Again, the participants posted impressive numbers surpassing their averages for the season.

That success was recognized at the evening’s award ceremonies. Though dominated by established juggernauts St. Michael’s of Albertville and Delano High Schools, the MHS CTL team was represented by Malachi Breczinski on the podium in the JV division’s individual awards in a four-way tie for second place with his total of 94. A tie-breaker of the longest reverse streak (counting from the 100th target backwards, rewarding strong finishes) netted him the fifth spot overall but still a place in the books for the 2014 State Championship and in the young history of the MHS CTL team.

The MHS CTL team was formed in January with the approval of the Marshall School Board through the efforts of the Redwood River Sportsman’s Club (RRSC), Lyon County Pheasants Forever and the Buffalo Ridge Gobblers chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, with financial and in-kind support from Borch’s Sporting Goods, the MidwayUSA Foundation, Pheasants Forever and other area businesses and private individuals.

Sign-up for the MHS CTL team of all youth with firearms safety certificates in grades seven through 12 will begin in January 2015. For more information on the team, contact Simonson at 507-829-9553 or via email at lyoncountypf@gmail.com.

For more on the ever-expanding MSHSCTL, visit the organization’s website at www.mnclaytarget.com.