Dowagiac sweeps SCTP state championshipsPublished 8:42am Thursday, July 15, 2010
By LARRY LYONS
MASON — Over the last several years Dowagiac’s Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) youth trap shooters have earned a reputation as fierce competitors at the Michigan State Championship where they have won more than their share of medals.
Their performance at this year’s championship sealed that reputation in stone, or perhaps better said, piles of clay target chips.
This is how it all works.
As the popularity of youth trap shooting continues to explode, the competitions have become more complex. The SCTP was the first nationwide organization designed for youth shotgun shooters. Its participants range from second graders through high school seniors.
Several years ago the Amateur Trap Shooting Association launched a similar youth program called AIM. Both the SCTP and AIM state championships were held in conjunction with the Amateur Trapshooting Association Michigan State Championship on July 3 in Mason.
Dowagiac is a member of both SCTP and AIM so their scores would count in both championships.
“This causes some logistical problems,” said head coach, Craig Lyons. “The age divisions of each organization are different so you need to structure your squads for one or the other. Our main focus has always been SCTP so we set up our squads for SCTP knowing that may hinder our chances in the AIM competition.”
Dowagiac fielded 28 shooters. SCTP has five age divisions and Dowagiac had a squad entered in each division.
A squad consists of five shooters so Dowagiac’s remaining three teamed up with two other shooters from another team. Each person shoots at 200 clay targets and their scores are totaled for a squad score.
When the last of the gun smoke wafted away in the breeze and the clay target chips settled to the ground a Dowagiac squad was first place in every division. It was an unheard of clean sweep of the SCTP Michigan State Championship.
Champions of the Rookie Division (2-5th grades) were Tommy Dussel, Jonathan Stockwell, Jared Stillwell, Nick Dussel and Nathan True. Intermediate Champions (6-8th grade) were Brandon Hatch, Caleb Sands, Lexy Kocsis, Phillip Kocsis and Collin Dussel.
Intermediate Advanced (6-8th grade, second year in division) were Tyler Wade, Austin Francois, Tyler Wessendorf, Shawn Haley and Tiegan Scheunemann. Earning title of Junior Varsity Champions (9-12th grade) were Sydney Foote, Ethan Dussel, Mike Dussel, Travis True and Andrew Wild.
Beating all comers in the Varsity Division (9-12th grade, second year in division) was Gideon Hebron, Aaron Blaske, Shane Filley, Gus St. Cin and Colton Evans.
Unfortunately, the combined Junior Varsity Alternate Squad of Conner East, Jon Lindemulder, Nick Lindemulder and the two shooters from another team were not eligible to place in the championship as they were not all from the same team but they all shot admirably well.
Sixth grader Hatch may be young in years but is long in marksmanship for his score of 197 out of 200 earned him High Gun of the entire SCTP Championship.
Ninth grader Foote showed everyone girls can shoot, too, with her score of 179 garnering the SCTP High Girl Champion.
Though Dowagiac’s squads were not structured for AIM competition, they snuck in and grabbed some shiny metal there, too.
Dowagiac’s Rookie squad took second place in the 11-yeaer-old and under Pre-Sub Division. Dowagiac’s Varsity and Junior Varsity squads took second and third place respectively in AIM’s 15-18 Junior Division.
SCTP’s focus is almost entirely on the team concept but AIM recognizes individual accomplishment as well. Hatch’s score of 197 landed him the Sub Junior Champion title. Andrew Wild was in hot pursuit and his score of 194 sealed Sub Junior runner-up. Gideon Hebron’s 193 put AIM’s Junior State Champion medal around his neck.
Lyons just shook his head with a proud grin.
“I’d have never believed it possible for every one of them to do so well all at the same time,” he said. “It’s our policy that one of our squads must at least place in the state championship before investing our sponsor’s money into competing in the Nationals at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, Ill. That’s only a couple weeks away so I guess I’d better get us signed up.”