Woodcreek trapshooting team remains on target

It wins its third state championship in a row
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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They aren’t the Friday night lights crowd, but they shoot the lights out.

Woodcreek High School has one of 12 trapshooting teams in the state, and for the third year in a row, Woodcreek is the best of those 12 after winning another state championship.

The trapshooting team is one of the more popular extra-curricular choices on campus. There were 95 students who gave it a try at the start of last season, and the squad carried 45 shooters when it won the state title June 18-19 at the Stockton Trap & Skeet Club.

“It’s any and all types,” said Alex Gray, the co-head coach with Mike Hogan. “We have band kids, baseball, track, football. Some, this is the only thing they do.”

Kaitlin Buchanan is one of nine females on the team. Her brother, Michael, competed with Woodcreek before graduating in 2009. She also did trapshooting with her dad Mike and her grandfather.

Buchanan said she was hooked when she went to a Woodcreek practice and outshot her brother. She joined last school year and plans to be on the team for her senior year.

“Definitely,” Buchanan said. “I’d shot before and really enjoyed it. I thought it was great. I made a lot of friends, and the coaches were a great help.”

Buchanan said she has improved from hitting 10 to 14 clays out of 25 to hitting 23 of 25 now. She started with her brother’s .20-gauge and now has one of her own.

Woodcreek has a junior varsity team for first-year shooters. All second-year shooters compete with the varsity squad. And, as Gray noted, “Nobody sits on the bench.”

All shooters participate and shoot an equal number of rounds.

“That’s why we can carry 45 kids, because everybody does participate,” Gray said.

The sport is American trap — one shell, one target at a time, according to Gray. The moving targets, 2- to 4-inch clays, fly outward at about 25 mph.

The shooters use a variety of shotguns: pump action, semi-automatic, over/under, single-shot and break-action.

The varsity team was led by Tyler Stein, who finished second individually in the state. Joining him on the team were seniors Conner Setzer, Tony Nist and Tavit Kassardjian and junior Conner Gray.

“Tyler has been a natural shooter,” Coach Gray said. “The rest of them have been good, but as they’ve progressed, the confidence level is what you see in them. All of a sudden, they become the leaders of the club. It’s not just about them; it’s about the team as a whole. They want the younger kids to succeed.”

And they have. Woodcreek’s JV team — Jack Mojica, Jesse Clouse, Andrew Ripley, Jordan Andrews and Ikjot “Joe” Hans — finished second in the state.

Gray said the training starts with gun safety, respect for “your tool of the trade,” how to stand, how to position the gun properly, angles and more.

“A lot of stuff goes into this,” he said. “To see them start to click, start to shoot well, break 15, all of a sudden 18, into the 20s, 22, 23 24, we know we have it. A lot of our kids shot 25 straight for the first time. They’re really happy. They’re getting high-fived by their teammates.”

Woodcreek had the first trapshooting team in the state, according to Gray, and has had the program for seven years. Woodcreek practices at Coon Creek Trap & Skeet Club in Rio Oso, near Lincoln.

Today, Granite Bay, Oakmont, Roseville and Del Oro have teams, and Gray said there probably will be two or three new teams next school year.