Ian Wheatcraft had the best aim in the Minnesota High School Clay Target League’s fall season.
The senior hit an average of 24.60 targets hit out of 25 in five competitions, leading the Prior Lake trap shooting team to the Conference 19A title.
Wheatcraft’s average was 0.10 better than runner-up Bradyn Ramsdahl of Comfrey.
“There were over 3,500 trap shooters registered this fall and to be the best over the five weeks of competition is just outstanding,” Prior Lake coach Scott Conrad said. “Ian is one or our captains and is a true leader. He works hard at his craft, takes nothing for granted and listens to any insight or instruction provided and uses it to his benefit.
“Ian handles change and adversity well and is an elite shooter in any weather or in any circumstance,” Conrad added. “He’s just as good of a person as he is a trap shooter.”
Last April, the MHSCTL’s spring season was canceled due to COVID-19. That spring has the annual state championships in Alexandria as well as the Minnesota State High School League’s state competition at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake.
In the past, the fall season usually has less teams and individual shooters, but not this year. There were 139 teams registered that were broken down into 19 conferences.
The MHSCTL is a member of the USA Clay Target League, the nation’s largest youth clay target shooting sport program with over 35,000 athletes competing in 2019.
This fall presented more challenges with the ongoing pandemic, but MHSCTL President John Nelson said coaches and parents worked together to ensure there was an opportunity to participate.
“It shows the dedication and determination of the thousands of coaches and volunteers that donate their time and experience into setting up and managing their local schools’ teams during these remarkable times,” Nelson said.
The Lakers had four other shooters finish in the top 60 in the overall individual standings. Jon Worthen finished tied for ninth with an average of 24.20 targets hit.
Alex Rau tied for 19th (24.0), while Tom Beyer and Derek Tupy tied for 60th (23.30).
In the Conference 19A standings, Prior Lake won with 46,415.5 total team points in the five competitions. Buffalo was second (40,658.50).
Farmington ended up third (30,538), followed by Andover (27,062.5), Rocori (26,059.5), Byron (24,926.5), Kasson-Mantorville (18,400) and Rosemount (17,739.5).
Wheatcraft, Worthen and Rau were one-two-three, respectively in the conference individual standings.
Tanner Thompson, David Eckstrom and Andrew Deming were tied for eighth (22.80), while Alec Peterson, Justin Kingery, Sam Christopherson and Peyton Happe finished tied for 15th (22.50), and Alex Moeller, Kane Smith and Greyson Thomson were tied for 23rd (22.30).
On the girls side, Callie Paul led the Lakers by winning the individual conference title with 21.10 targets hit out of 25. Carly Dorn finished sixth (18.90) and Violet Legare ended up 11th (17.40).
Prior Lake also competed in skeet with Thompson leading the team. He was third in the Conference 2 standing and fourth overall in the state with 22.60 targets hit out of 25.
Wheatcraft was fourth in the conference and eighth in the state (22.40), while Worthen was ninth in the conference (21.30).
Prior Lake took second in the Conference 2 team skeet standings out of seven schools with 639.50 points. Spring Lake Park won (656.50).
Overall, Conrad said plenty of time and effort went into having a fall season and making it safe for each of the competitors, including following the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
“We made sure each shooter had their own table to use for their gear to keep common surfaces to a minimum,” Conrad said. “The tables were cleaned after each student was done. We completed our instruction at a safe distance and this all worked out well.
“The students responded so well as they usually are the best at adapting to new circumstance,” Conrad added. “They were also very respectful of these new guidelines and sure didn’t want to do anything to interrupt the great season they were having this year.”