Gillett ends strong trap season at state tournament

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Team finishes 3rd in conference this spring
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Adviser Doug Quaak, second from left, teaches Gillett trap shooting members, left, Logan Block, Hunter Poffinbarger and Justin Engebretson during a shotgun reloading session. (Contributed photo)

The Gillett High School trap shooting team was one of 78 teams in Wisconsin to compete in the 2018 Spring Trap League.

Those 78 teams were assigned to one of 11 conferences based on the number of athletes the teams rostered. Gillett was a member of a conference also featuring Cambria-Friesland, Elmwood, Mondovi, Randolph and Washburn.

Gillett finished third in the conference with 1,338 points over a five-week span. Elmwood (1,695.5) took first while Mondovi (1,584) placed second. Washburn (1,119), Randolph (852) and Cambria Friesland (836.5) rounded out the conference standings.

Logan Block led Gillett with an average of 21.6 points (out of 25), the second-best mark in the conference behind only Washburn’s Blake Defoe (22). Hunter Poffinbarger (20.3), Reid Winkler (18.9), Art Poffinbarger (18.6) and Brice Winkler (18.1) all finished among the top-25 male shooters in the conference.

“What brought this team to third (place) was the competitiveness of the team,” Block said. “Everyone wanted to have the best scores of the night.”

Following the conference portion of the season, five of the school’s shooters prepared for the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League’s 2018 State Tournament on June 9 in Rome, Wisconsin.

Athletes were designated into three different classifications based on the individual’s average score during the conference season. Shooters with averages between 0-14.99 points were entered into the novice competition, scores of 15-18.99 into junior varsity and 19-25 into varsity.

Hunter Poffinbarger represented Gillett at the varsity level, earning a total score of 80 (out of 100). The finish tied him for 316th among all male competitors.

Gillett had three shooters taking part in the junior varsity classification. Brice Winkler led the trio of shooters with a score of 76. Reid Winkler shot a 75 and Art Poffinbarger finished with a 67.

Joey Powell took part in the novice competition and tallied a score of 81, tying him for sixth among all male shooters in the classification. Powell recorded a round of 24 (out of 25), the team’s best individual round during the competition.

“It is fun to compete because you are always trying to be the best on the team or the best that is at the gun club,” Block said. “The feeling of being the best or shooting a perfect score (25 out of 25) just can give you butterflies.”

Unlike more popular spring sports, like baseball, softball and track, trap shooting is a non-traditional and fairly new sport.

Mark Sparks, the school’s athletic director, served as the team’s coach this season, dealing mostly with administrative aspects and the logistics for the athletes. Sparks said the team was constantly battling funding issues, but was proud of how the students responded.

“I knew we would have some very good shooters because so many of our kids were passionate about the sport of shooting,” Sparks said. “But, our biggest challenge was maintaining enough funding to purchase shotgun shells and cover certain fees. Our kids did an outstanding job of fundraising and I really believe they represented the Gillett community very well throughout the entire season.”

After a successful season, the team is hoping to grow its numbers in the coming seasons. Sparks is also hoping to take in some other spring athletes, who could still play their respective spring sports along with competing on the trap shooting team.

“I don’t put much stock into how we finished this year, but the exposure these kids had to trap shooting this year, along with how they talked about their experience with other students, has already led to increased interest,” Sparks said. “With the flexibility this league offers, I’m hoping to add a number of shooters who also play softball, baseball and track. Additionally, it would be great to get some of our middle schoolers exposed to the sport and build our program for the long haul.”