NHS trap team ties for second at state
HILLSBORO — Newberg and Oregon City high schools tied for second place at the 2022 Oregon State High School Clay Target League tournament June 25-26. Both schools scored 460 points, three points shy of first place Canby High School.
Individually, NHS's Wyatt Schliesleder, who earned 96 out of 100 points, ranked third overall and second in the male division.
In trap shooting, one of the fastest growing high school sports in the nation, competitors fire shotguns at clay targets launched into the air at various angles.
"One of the interesting things about the sport is it doesn't necessarily require any physical prowess, so it's a little bit different than other sports," NHS coach David Craig said, adding that the state champion this year was female competitor from eastern Oregon.
Last year, NHS placed first overall in state, narrowly beating Hermiston High School by one point. In 2019, before COVID-19 postponed the sport for a year, NHS placed second. In five years of trap shooting competitions in the state, NHS is the only high school to place in the top three for three consecutive years.
"Obviously, we were hoping to defend our state title," Craig said. "Second by three targets is bittersweet. We had some kids that performed very well, and we had some kids that didn't shoot as they wanted to. But all in all, it was a good day and it's a testament to our program — the only school in Oregon that's been on the podium for the last three years."
Newberg's top five trap shooters, whose number of targets hit out of 100 account for the team's total points, included Schliesleder's 96 points, followed by Vaughn Domin's 92, Devyn Hing's 91, Walker Hilton's 91 and Ben Cox's 90.
Additionally, Newberg won six of the available 19 individual medals.
State medal-winners included Josephine Willcuts, who placed second in the junior varsity female division; Zoe Mace, finishing third in the JV female division; Katelyne Queen, who notched a third-place finish in the novice female division; Domin, who was first in the novice male division; and Trevor Behm, who placed third in the novice male division.
"I'm most proud of my team as far as their determination and their desire to work hard and get better," Craig said. "We don't have anybody out there that's just there to goof around. Everybody comes out and they have fun, but they take it seriously and they work hard."
Despite not defending the state title, Craig said the team is progressing every year.
"We've crossed the threshold now where it's harder to qualify for nationals on the Newberg team than it is in the nation, which is kind of an interesting problem to have," he said.
Thirteen NHS athletes qualified for nationals this year, but only 10 were allowed to attend.
"It's a testament how good our team has become," Craig said. "The kids have worked really hard and I'm super proud of them."
The national championship is underway at the MTA Homegrounds in Mason, Michigan, with preliminaries on Friday and Saturday and finals on Sunday (results were unavailable at press time). Roughly 3,000 athletes will shoot half a million clay targets in the three days of competition.
Representing NHS are Schliesleder, Hing, Hilton, Cox, Wyatt Barnes, Coleman Croft, Nick Hailey, Nicolas Lahey, Aidan Perkins, Coen Stapleton and Aaron Weatherly, split into two teams.
Last year, for the first time, NHS made it to the finals, with a senior placing 11th nationally as an individual.
The goal this year, Craig said, is to do it again.
"We're going back there with high hopes," he said prior to the beginning of the match.
But there's more to nationals than winning.
"Nationals is kind of a bit of a reward for the kids that have excelled during the regular season," Craig said. "We actually do a lot of fishing and some other things while we're back there. I'm not saying we don't take it seriously, but we definitely have a good time."
Overall, Craig said he is grateful for the community's continued support. The team raised $20,000 for the season through donations from local businesses that helped keep the cost for a typically expensive sport to a minimum. They also received grant money from the National Rifle Association, which supplied them with $8,000 worth of ammo — two-thirds of the ammo they needed.
Newberg's trap shooting team practices two times a week, structured to allow its 47 athletes to partake in other sports if desired. Between practice and competition, the team has shot around 30,000 clay targets this year.
For more information about the team, visit nhstrap.team/index.html.
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