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TRAP SHOOTING: Lumberjacks advance to state with impressive showing at Alexandria

Tate Hammitt shoots during practice on Wednesday at the Northland Regional Sports Park ahead of the state trap shooting tournament. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
The Bemidji High School trap shooting team is one of 40 teams to advance to the state trap shooting tournament, set to be held Friday, June 22, in Prior Lake. In the back row from left to right are Ian Ekstrom, Nicholas Peterson, Tate Hammitt, Brandon Morris and Nic Geiger. In the front are Kiah Martinson and Taylor Kehoe. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School trap shooting team has shot its way to state.

Finishing with a team score of 487 at the end of the weeklong 2018 Minnesota State High School Clay Target League Trap Shooting Championship in Alexandria on Tuesday, April 19, the Lumberjacks easily made the 40-team state tournament field by tying for fourth place with three other teams.

“I really thought we’d need a 475 to move on, which was true,” Bemidji coach Kelly Geiger said. “We needed a 474 or higher is what the cutoff ended up being, and we just blasted that out of there with a 487.”

Leading the Lumberjacks were Tate Hammitt and Nic Geiger, who each powdered 98 out of 100 targets. Hammitt finished second in the Class 9A male high gun standings due to his reverse run of 50.

Also contributing to the team score were Zach Suther, Nicholas Peterson and Ian Ekstrom, who each logged 97s.

After the team went through its first round of 50, the Jacks found themselves in first place, and the target was on Bemidji’s back for the next round.

“The results come up all day long. We’re checking our phones all day long,” coach Geiger said. “After the first 50, we were sitting in first place by one target. If anything, it was just more pressure and nervous energy, and the coaches and the parents were a wreck. The kids – I’m so impressed with how they stayed cool under that pressure knowing it was kind of on the line. We were really performing well, and to come out and repeat that for your second half, to me, that’s really impressive for these kids.”

At the state tournament, five Bemidji shooters will compete, while two alternates will accompany them in the case of one of the shooters being unable to shoot.

Hammitt, Nic Geiger, Peterson, Ekstrom and Brandon Morris are expected to shoot for the Jacks on Monday morning, and Kiah Martinson and Taylor Kehoe will serve as alternates.

Martinson finished third in the 9A female high gun standings with a 94, while Morris and Kehoe shot 96 and 94, respectively, on the male side.

“This year at state is going to be tough because it’s the most competitive field,” coach Geiger said. “It truly is the 40 best teams in the state. Sections and school size – everything is thrown away, and it’s simply the 40 absolute best teams.

“I’m hoping that our kids can not think about that and just think about, ‘I’ve got 100 targets to hit.’ I think we’ve got a really cool-headed bunch of kids, and I think it’s going to hopefully be a positive for us.”

Also in Class 9A at Alexandria, Bemidji had shooters finish in the top three in each of the male and female novice and junior varsity high gun categories.

AnnMarie Underwood earned female novice top high gun honors with an 86, while Hunter Rongstad was third among male novice shooters with an 82. Krista Engelmeyer’s 92 was enough for the top spot in the female JV high gun rankings, while Samuel Stish took third in the male JV category with a 91.

As a team, the Jacks finished first in Class 9A in the novice and varsity categories and second in the JV category.

For the seven shooters heading to the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake on Friday, June 22, coach Geiger hopes they perform up to their potential and, perhaps, bring home hardware with a top-three finish.

Along with team competition, Peterson, Nic Geiger, and Hammitt earned entry into the individual state competition based on their performance throughout the regular season. They posted regular season averages of 23.8, 23.7 and 23.6, respectively, to finish among the top 100 shooters in the state.

In addition to their two rounds of 50 in team competition Friday morning, the trio will return in the afternoon to shoot at 100 straight targets to compete individually against Minnesota’s best.

“They’re going to shoot 100 straight, so they don’t get 50 and 50, which is a little bit different,” coach Geiger said. “They don’t normally shoot 100 in a row. So we’ll see. It’ll be interesting.”

2018 Trap Shooting Championship

Top Ten Teams

1-St. Michael-Albertville 492, 2-Wayzata 491, 3-Park Rapids 488, T4-Lakeview 487, T4-Badger-Greenbush-Middle River 487, T4-Alexandria 487, T4-Bemidji 487, T8-New Prague 486, T8-Alden-Conger 486, T10-Marshall 484, T10-Hibbing 484.

Top Bemidji Finishers

Tate Hammitt 98, Geiger 98, Peterson 97, Ekstrom 97, Suther 97, Morris 96, Voss 96, T. Kehoe 94, Martinson 94, Glen 94, Black 93, Pierce 93, L. Jensen 93, Avery LaZella 93, S. Mutnansky 93, Norgaard 93, D. Roth 92, Engelmeyer 92, Goplin 92, Stish 91, Ca. Smith 91, Tanner Hammitt 91, Louks 90.

9A High Gun -- Bemidji Results

Female Novice High Gun

1-AnnMarie Underwood 86

Male Novice High Gun

3-Hunter Rongstad 82

JV Female High Gun

1-Krista Engelmeyer 92

JV Male High Gun

3-Samuel Stish 91

Female Varsity High Gun

3-Kiah Martinson 94

Male Varsity High Gun

2-Tate Hammitt 98