Update on Ballard Clay Bombers shooting team
Story County Invitational
With a minimum of rest, Clay Bomber shooters found themselves right back in action on Saturday morning, May 7, at the Story County Invitational, hosted by the Gilbert Clay Commanders, with the addition of Roland-Story Norse and Nevada Orange Crush shooters in the mix. Conditions could not have been more different than the night before, made even stranger by cool temperatures and light winds that allowed smoke from Canadian wildfires to hang in the Skunk River valley like the smog of an industrial city. In spite of the need for an extra layer of clothing and a good set of amber lenses in their shooting glasses, Clay Bomber shooters turned in some of their best scores of the season from top to bottom.
For the Rookies, Hunter Vitzthum again posted scores that would compete at any level, ending his day in first place with a 41/50. Following close behind was little brother, Tucker Vitzthum, in second place with a 26 and, coming off a recent sickness, Wyatt Wunder worked his way into fourth place with a 25.
Clay Bomber Intermediate Entry Division shooters dominated the leader board, taking places one through six and putting up excellent scores throughout. Dan Zunkel edged Max Paulin for first, posting a 43 to narrowly best Max’s 42. Not to be outdone, first-year shooter Huck Brace continues to challenge, earning third place with a 41/50. Teammates Spencer Salasek, Ryan Finch and Thomsen Harrison rounded out the top six.
Similar to the IE’s, the Intermediate Advanced Division saw Ballard shooters taking first–12th places; internal competition amongst this division is fierce, with barely three targets separating our shooters’ averages. Gage Long has recently emerged as top shooter amongst the IA’s in competition and narrowly missed his first 25 straight on Saturday, going 24/21 to lead all shooters. Right behind him, Alex Bangs also dropped just one bird in the second round to close out with a 43 for second place. Finding his way into medal contention for the first time was Colby Kadner in third place with a 41. Drake Wunder also posted a career high 41. From there on down through 12th place, one bird here and there separated Clay Bomber shooters. Of note, Mason Askelson put up a 40, followed just behind by Sam Salasek, who continues to work his way up with a 39.
Our sole representative in the Ladies Intermediate Advanced Division, Allie Pierson, again found her way into the medals, bringing home second place with a 29/50.
With only a handful of JV Men’s Division shooters, Grant Van Zee found his way into sixth place with a 32/50. Topping the Ladies JV Division, newcomer Haley Johnson bested the field, taking first place with a 30/50, with Liz McInroy also putting on a good show and taking home fourth with a 25.
The Men’s Varsity Division provided for stiff competition, with the first two rounds ending with five shooters knotted at 45 and competing for the top slots. Contributing to his 45, congrats to Zach Nessa who posted his first career 25 straight. In the ensuing shoot-offs, Jed Miller came out in sole possession of first place, while Owen Zunkel needed a win in a second shoot-off against a Nevada Orange Crush athlete to secure second place. Zach’s shoot-off efforts landed him in fourth.
So you get a good impression of how tough competition gets at the varsity level; only one target behind Zach, Nick Jordan ended up in seventh-place with a 44 and Jarrett Miller in 10th place with a 43. Yes, every target counts! Four other varsity Clay Bomber shooters posted scores at/over 40 (Chase McLaughlin, Dylan Kadner, Austin Wiegel and Nolan Payne).
Similar to the men, varsity Clay Bomber Ladies also had their work cut out for them facing a couple of shooters that will likely challenge for a state title in June. In the end, Syd Pierson brought home third place with a 39, followed by Madison Whitacre not far behind in fourth with a 36.
—Information provided by Ballard Assistant Coach John Paulin and Photos provided by Missy Miller