After earning their second trip to nationals since 2001, the Sam Houston State Trap and Skeet team made sure they won’t be soon forgotten.
Competing in the National Collegiate Clay Target Championship in San Antonio, the Bearkats faced thirty five other schools and came away with an eleventh place finish.
“For competing in an event of this size for the first time, I believe we did very well as a team,” Club president Matt Mazac said. “We were competing against some of the best shotgun shooters in the nation, including some who compete on the USA Olympic team. We were competing with ESPN cameras in our faces, which made it difficult at times. But it was fun and a great experience for everybody. “
According to Mazac, the competition, which is hosted by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), is open to any university in the nation that has a trap and skeet team. This year, the Bearkats competed against schools such as Kansas State, Colorado State, Texas A&M, the University of Missouri and Virginia Tech.
Despite losing one of their key competitors to food poisoning, the Sam Houston State team placed well individually with Brandon Driggers placing 78 out of 233 shooters, followed by Justin Reese (80) and Justin Rowe (85).
Lesley Erekson represented the Bearkats in the women’s division and earned 38th place.
“I was not sure what to expect,” Erekson said. “I had not competed in anything as large as this competition before. I just wanted to go and do the best that I could do, and try and beat my own score.”
The competition was divided into five categories, including International Trap, International Skeet, American Trap, American Skeet and 5-Stand. Each event is worth a set number of points, which are awarded to the shooter based on how many clays are hit.
“Trap is an event where clay target are flying out in front of you and flying away from you in any direction at all times,” Mazac said. “Skeet is where there is a designed course and the clay targets are flying away and horizontal of you. 5-Stand is a course that you cannot practice for because every course is different. You don’t know what the course is going to look like or where the targets are going to be coming form until you get there.”
Prior to the national competition, the team of 35 practiced throughout the season and competed in various events in preparation for the trip to San Antonio. Though only eight members were able to go to nationals this season, Erekson and Mazac both agreed that they would like to add more members and bring more competitors next year.
“I believe that the team had fun this year and now that we have taken a few team members to nationals, we will have more individuals want to compete in more competitions,” Mazac said. “We may also pick up more team members if they see that we are going to compete through out the fall and spring semester. The team members that competed at nationals this year are already looking forward to next year and taking shooting more seriously. I am looking to move up quite a few spots in next year’s national competition.”
“I cannot wait to go back next year,” Erekson said. “I feel that we all performed the best we could, but I know we can all shoot a lot better, and we will be better competition next year for the other teams.”