VCC launches trap team; Shooters fare well, capture two firsts, at inaugural league meet

by Tom Coombe -

The newest team at Vermilion Community College had a successful inaugural season.
Vermilion fielded a trapshooting team this fall, attracting a whopping 40 participants and making an impact both in regular season action and the first Minnesota Two-Year College State Championships, held earlier in the month.
Vermilion shooters won first place in two of three divisions, and the team had three second-place finishers and two thirds.
“We did very well,” said Wade Klingsporn, an instructor at the school and the trapshooting coach. “We ended up taking all three gold, silver and bronze team awards.”
Vermilion joined several other northern Minnesota community colleges in fielding a trap team, and the roster was by far the largest among five teams.
“Of 105 students total, we had 40 of them,” said Klingsporn.
The team shot its regular season rounds at Winton, competing for several weeks.
“We did it the same way as the high school did it,” said Klinsporn. “It’s a virtual league. You practice and compete at your home trap club, so we did it out at Winton. And students were able to shoot four rounds of trap, 25 shots each, and they needed to shoot two competitions or 50 shots each week. We entered the scores on the scholastic clay target program website.”
While VCC took fourth as a team during the regular season, Vermilion shooters stood out at Grand Rapids.
Cole Hoffman and Zach Eustice tied with matching 97 scores in the gold division, with Hoffman winning a shootout for second place and Eustice taking third.
In the silver division, Northeast Range graduate Travis Loewen was first with a 96 and teammate Andy Schmaltz (91) took second.
VCC swept all three spots in the bronze division, with Eric Omdahl winning with a score of 88.
In second was Mike Dietz (86) and Luke Crawford (85) wound up third. Alica Smith of Vermilion was third in the female bronze division.
Trap shooting has taken off as a high school activity, and Vermilion officials say the activity is a perfect fit here, particularly given the school’s niche as a haven for outdoors-related programs.
“I knew with the type of students we tend to get that it would be a popular thing here,” said Klingsporn. “I saw my son’s team a couple years ago in Babbitt and said we need to do this at the college.”
Vermilion officials got on board, making plans during the 2016-17 school year for a launch this fall. By word of mouth and some posters around campus, and mailings to high school trap coaches, the program has taken off.
Plans call for another step forward next year, perhaps even full-fledged varsity status.
“I believe we are pursuing status within the MCAC,” said Klingsporn. “There’s nothing yet on the national leven, but statewide schools are very interested in getting into this. My guess is we get close to 20 teams next year.”
Students at VCC have seemed to enjoy the new activity.
“I think a lot of them, probably two-thirds had shot trap before,” said Klingsporn. “They enjoyed doing it in high school and this is something they can continue in college. It’s a good interactive sport. When you’re not shooting you’re sort of hanging out and talking to like-minded students. We had a really good time.”
Klingsporn, who was assisted by Jake Myers and Dan Swope, said the VCC trap team was particularly grateful for the support of the Vermilion Range Trap Club.
“They were a huge help,” he said.