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Rosemount High School Trap team takes its best shot

Rosemount High School student Erik Engstrom takes aim while others look on.1 / 2
Members of the trap team talk during a recent practice shoot.2 / 2

Baseball and softball have big hits. Track has the shot put and the discus. But it's safe to say no spring sport at Rosemount High School has nearly the firepower of the newest addition to the schedule.

This spring is the first for the Irish in the rapidly growing Minnesota High School Clay Target League, a statewide network of schools that compete in trap shooting events. The league, now in its fifth year, has 57 teams from schools around the state. Last year it had 27.

At Rosemount, the team started as a way to attract membership at the West End Hunting and Fishing Club. Leaders there were looking for a way to attract younger shooters, and with roughly 1,500 students expected to compete in the league this year, the high school league seemed like a natural fit.

Planning for the new teams - the club will also host a team from Eagan High School - began almost a year ago, when club leaders met with people in the community and with the District 196 School Board. Club leaders held a meeting in early January to gauge interest among students.

What they saw was encouraging.

"I was expecting maybe 20 or 30 people to show up, and there was 120 people who showed up," said Andy Ahlberg, who is leading the team for the West End Gun Club. "It was standing room only."

Jackson Schalliol has been a hunter for years, but he's new to trap shooting. When he saw a notice about the team at school, he found some friends and they all signed up.

"I'd do anything with fire arms," Schalliol said. "I love shooting."

By the time the season started there were about 70 students on the two teams, split nearly evenly between RHS and EHS. Some are experienced shooters, but others are trying the sport for the first time. They get four weeks of practice - the first was April 3 - and then five weeks of competition leading up to the state tournament.

Teams each shoot at their own home range, in this case West End, then submit their scores to be matched up against their competition for the week.

"We definitely have a broad range of students that have been shooting for a while, some that have shot a little bit and some that haven't shot at all," Ahlberg said.

All team members went through safety training at the beginning of the season.

Nick Lampert is one of the team members with years of experience under his belt. The Rosemount High School senior started hunting with his grandfather when he was 9 or 10 and he's been shooting at West End since middle school, when he made friends with the Ahlberg family. He's been involved with discussions of the trap shooting team since the beginning.

It was a photo at the club of a Rosemount High School trap team from the 1980s that got Lampert excited about getting the team up and running.

Lampert, who has played lacrosse off and on over the years, sees his new team as similar to the RHS lacrosse program a few years ago. Those teams started slowly, but have grown significantly in recent years.

"We just wanted to start a new team and see where that brought us," Lampert said.

Nobody's quite sure how the team will develop from here, but through two practices things seem to be going well. Lampert worried that with so many people on the team the sun would set too early for everyone to shoot at the team's first practice, but he said everyone cooperated and things moved quickly. Everybody got a chance to shoot.

Lampert's goals for the season include a few for himself - he'd like to record a few perfect rounds - and some for the team. He wants a good showing at the state competition, and he'd like to see all of the team members come together as a group. He's trying to come up with some activities to help bring them together.

More than anything, though, he wants to have fun. He's excited for the season to begin.

"I love trap shooting," he said. "Just the feeling that we have a team at Rosemount."