The Mitchell High School trapshooting team is continuing its upward trend.
The MHS roster has increased in numbers each of the past four seasons and it has continued this season. The club debuted in 2017 with 14 shooters and it now has 53 on this year’s roster.
MHS coach Jerry Opbroek said the activity gives a wide range of kids opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s why he believes the roster has spiked each season.
“You take a look at some of our kids out here and they will never play football or they will probably never play basketball,” Opbroek said. “But yet it gives them just one more opportunity to be involved competitively. Because even though it’s virtual, they are competing against those other schools in our conference and of course eventually at the state shoot.”
This season, the team has shooters from Mitchell, Mount Vernon, Ethan, Alexandria and Canistota. It also has shooters from grades sixth-through-12th on the team, adding to the uniqueness of the sport.
“Our sixth graders, they just love to stand by the 12th graders and they are perfectly willing to go over and help a young kid because we teach them all the very basic same set of stuff,” Opbroek said. “They are willing to help each other.”
Mitchell High School junior Maddy Henkel has competed for the past three years for MHS and she’s a big proponent of the activity. She doesn’t do any other extracurricular activities and shoots in the spring, summer and fall.
“It’s a really fun activity,” Henkel said. “You get a lot of good chances to do stuff and something (people) should know is when they do trapshooting, they shouldn’t get so down on themselves and just keep on trying.”
MHS sophomore Chase Eitemiller is competing for his second season and also competes for multiple months each year.
“I think last year we did not have this many and it’s cool to shoot with more people, too,” Eitemiller said. “Especially getting more of my friends involved as well. It’s more fun to shoot with friends, too.”
Mitchell competes in the South Dakota State High School Clay Target League and it is sanctioned by the Mitchell Public Schools as a club sport this season.
The scoring is done through virtual scoring, with shooters competing at their local shooting ranges. The scores will be submitted online and they will be compared against other teams in their respective conference.
The Kernels will shoot Monday and Tuesday nights at the Mitchell Gun Club. The season continues through May and the state tournament is June 13 in Aberdeen.
Teams are divided into conferences and determined by team size rather than geographic location for fair competition.
In addition to the strong number of shooters, Opbroek also praised the team’s other coaches for being instrumental in the program: Dave Henkel, John Henkel, Austin McPeek, Matt Barnard, Gerry Jonassen and John Weise.
“I’ve got six guys that are really dependable and they are really good at working with the kids,” Opbroek said.