BEMIDJI -- The road to Mason, Mich., should look a little more familiar for the Bemidji High School trap team this year.
The Lumberjacks are making their return to the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship today, where they’ll look to hold their own against the top high school trapshooters in the nation.
“It’s just an exciting, good trip. A lot of us sort of make it a family vacation, as well,” team manager Kelly Geiger said. “It’s so cool to be a part of something that’s huge and involves kids.”
Six shooters from Bemidji qualified for the national championship: Ian Ekstrom, Nic Geiger, Kiah Martinson and Trevor Voss are all returners, while Kaleb Bruns and Brecken Meyers are new to the national stage.
“I feel good since this is my first full season of trap,” Meyers said. “I feel confident that I’m going to do well, and I feel proud that I shot well enough this season to go there.”
To be eligible for the top of three qualifying tiers, where all of Bemidji’s individuals landed, shooters must have an average of 21-for-25 or higher throughout the season. The team qualifying standard is a 19 average, which BHS also met.
“They all have good season averages. They’ve all shot 25 Straights before, a lot of them have shot 50 Straights before,” Kelly Geiger said. “It’s just a matter of everyone having a good day on the same day. They’re all absolutely capable of, really, pulling off 100 Straight. It would just be really fun to see some great scores.”
The championship field consists of up to 1,800 individuals and 240 teams. Teams will go first on Friday, July 11, and the top 80 advance to the finals on Sunday, July 13. The top 400 individuals will advance from Saturday’s preliminary round to Sunday’s finals.
Martinson finished outside the top 200 as an individual last season, and she’d like to better her place this time around, but she won’t be adding any unnecessary pressure on herself.
“I’m going to do as well as I can, but going in… I really don’t have a lot of expectations,” she said. “A lot of it is doing your own thing. Going out there, setting your own pace and making sure you’re in your own zone.”
The national championship event is just in its second year, but the Lumberjacks can still appreciate the magnitude of the opportunity while relishing in it.
“(I have) a mixture of nervousness and excitement because you're going to a new place to shoot trap,” Meyers said. “But you’re excited because you’re going to a new place to shoot trap.”
Kelly Geiger said she hopes the team can crack the top 40 and that all the individuals qualify for the finals. If they do, it won’t surprise her much.
“Kiah had some pretty good advice for the shooters who hadn’t been there,” she said. “Just don’t go in with an expectation. Go and shoot for fun, because you’re going to be more relaxed, and you’re going to shoot better.
“You’ve already shot all of the targets that are going to come out of that house at some point in your life. You’ve already hit every single one and broken it. It’s no different.”