The Morristown Gun Club held their 1st Annual Summer Youth League Independent Trap Shoot Championships Saturday on a cloudy, hot day.  The heavy rain waited until the league competition was over.

72 youth in grades 4-12 signed up and 69 eventually participated.  The regular season consisted of 10 rounds with the top 10 scores in three divisions participating in the league championship.

The Varsity at one point had six people tied for first place but eventually two individuals were tied forcing a shoot off.  There were a number of perfect rounds during the competition including one from Faribault Bethlehem Academy competitor Bo Dienst.  He was tied in first at one point.

The top three regular season varsity scorers finished in the same order on Saturday.  Sam Miller and Matthew Riehm both of Northfield had a shoot off that Miller won.  Joe Earl of Owatonna finished third in the competition.  The top 3 finishers in each division received very nice plaques for their accomplishments.

The top 3 in each division also received a case of shotgun shells.  Every competitor  received a box of shells and certificates for 2 free rounds of shooting at the Morristown Gun Club.  Over $1,000 dollars worth of prizes were also given away in a drawing including a lifetime membership to the Morristown Gun Club.

If Miller and Riehm were nervous it certainly didn't show.  Heading into the shoot-off they both looked as cool as the other side of the pillow.

They flipped a coin to determine who would shoot first. Riehm won the toss and chose to go first.

They both aced the first round hitting every clay pigeon. The two finalists then moved back three feet to the 19 yard mark to shoot.  On the third target Riehm missed, Miller did not and the first ever Morristown Gun Club Independent Clay Shooting League Varsity Champion was determined.

I got to visit with several of the athletes during a broadcast on KDHL.  Miller and Riehm joined me together and said they are friends off the range also.  I asked if there was any trash talking before the shoot-off and they both replied "No" in unison.

Miller told KDHL, "Having great teammates makes me a better shooter.  I wouldn't be the competitor I am today without my terrific teammates."  Riehm echoed the sentiment saying, "Hitting those clay pigeons is just the greatest feeling."

Tanner Craig of Northfield was the Junior Varsity champion and said, "It's a great stress buster for me.  If I'm having a bad day or something I can come out here and clear my mind of everything and just concentrate on shooting."  He added his confidence has grown because of success in the fastest growing high school sport in the world.

Morristown Gun Club President Troy Marquardt of Faribault told the competitors and their families gathered for the awards program.  "It's also the safest sport.  There has been no reported injury in over 20 million rounds of competition."

Northfield Head Coach Pete Mergens says, "Safety is always emphasized before every event we participate in and at every practice."

The Quast brothers from Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School both placed in their respective divisions.  Isaac was third in the Junior Varsity Division and Zachary placed second in the Novice Division.

The brothers are both involved in football and wrestling at school and told KDHL they love those sports but, "Trap is our favorite." Isaac said, "Because it's something you can do alone."   Zachary wasn't really sure why it was his favorite but indicated he, "loves to compete."

Tyler Buck of Northfield captured the Novice Division title.

The Cannon Falls team was not part of the Morristown Gun Club but Jerek Gappa of Cannon Falls did compete in the league even though he said it's about a 45 minute drive to the shooting range from Cannon Falls.  He finished 5th after the 10 round regular season.

Gappa told KDHL, "We shoot in Wanamingo.  It's a nice range.  I really enjoy Morristown because everyone is so friendly and welcoming.  This competition was awesome because the High School League cancelled all spring sports.  I really appreciate Pete and the board here for setting this tournament up."



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