Great guns! Woodcreek trapshooting is on target again

Timberwolves win varsity, top squad and individual state titles
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Woodcreek High School’s Sportsmen’s Club continues to raise the bar with every clay it scatters.

Woodcreek recently won its fourth consecutive high school varsity state championship, and the Timberwolves accomplished much more in the California Youth Shooting Sports Association competition at the Waterloo Gun & Bocci Club in Stockton.

For the first time, Woodcreek won the Top Squad Award by beating everyone in California, including all the private clubs, and rising junior Andrew Ripley won the individual state championship with a total score of 199 out of 200 — believe it or not.

“It’s a wonderful surprise, the success we’ve had, and it just keeps growing and the kids are getting better and better,” coach Alex Gray said. “And more importantly, they seem to be enjoying it a lot.”

The varsity team scored 969 out of 1,000, including 199 for Ripley, 193 each for senior Zac Chesmore-Nelson and sophomores Jordan Andrews and Jack Mojica, and 191 for senior Jesse Clouse.

The top squad scored 965 with Ripley, Chesmore-Nelson, Mojica, Clouse and squad leader Conner Gray (189).

There were 17 high school teams in the state this season, up from 12 in 2011, and 33 squads total.

Lisa Gray, wife of Alex, said Woodcreek’s victory marked the first time a high school defeated the private clubs. It came down to two shots at clays, and Woodcreek won by two.

Lisa Gray said coaches for the runner-up Livermore-Pleasanton Young Shooters were standing behind Woodcreek’s team during the competition.

“We didn’t tell our kids we were in contention for that (Top Squad) award,” she said.

The crowd cheered as Woodcreek stepped away following its last round of shooting. It was then the team learned other coaches were watching the whole time.

Conner Gray said another team will come along someday and eclipse Woodcreek’s feat but, “Making history is something no one can take away from us.”

Ripley came a long way since scoring 86 out of 100 in his first tournament of the season. He hit 92 targets in Woodcreek’s next competition, followed by 91, 96, 95 and 95.

Ripley got so hot at the state competition his teammates gathered around as he exploded target after target.

“It was nice to see the reaction of the kids on our squad holding their breath every time he shot,” Alex Gray said. “They didn’t want him to miss.”

Gray said Ripley improved by leaps and bounds because of his dedication.

“You could tell by his attitude, his demeanor, that he really focused on getting better,” Gray said. “He himself took it to another level.”

The Sportsmen’s Club featured its usual assortment of students on a roster of 52: kids from the band, girls from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II-champion soccer team, a drama student who missed the occasional shoot because he was in a play, a bowler. Even baseball hero Stephen Nogosek was on the team while pitching the Timberwolves to the Division II section title.

Gray said the “great mixture of kids” listened to the coaches and each other, made minor adjustments throughout the season, hung out together and formed a “fantastic” chemistry.

“It just all fell into place,” he said.

Woodcreek has two squads competing this week in the U.S. Open Youth Clay Shooting Championships in Las Vegas.