By Ray Rodriguez The Dalles Chronicle
DUFUR – Parker Wallace placed first in the Novice Male division, Jessica Elam had a top-10 finish, and the duo of Peyton Neal and Hunter Wagenblast ended up tied for 16th place to lead the Dufur Clay Target Team at the Oregon State High School Clay Target League Tournament held on June 22 at the Hillsboro Trap and Skeet Club.
Dufur had a program-high 15 participants on the roster during the regular season, with 11 making the state trip, four for the first-time ever.
Taking home Novice Team High Gun awards for the boys was Wallace (81), and for the girls, Elam (65).
Neal picked up the junior varsity Team High Gun (83), and Nate O’Brien secured the varsity Team High Gun Male (86).
“I’m super-proud of every one of our kids. They all showed up ready to go,” Dufur coach Robert Wallace said. “Each and every one of these kids took the competition very seriously, all wanting a chance to bring home a medal and bragging rights as one of Oregon’s top shots. The level of competition has really increased over the past three years, so for our kids to be placing amongst the top scores is very impressive.”
Parker started competing in the program when he was in eighth grade, and the three-time state qualifier has increased his scores over the past few years.
In his dominant state run, Parker Wallace shot 18 of 25, and then 21 of 25 in his first session for a 39 of 50 total.
In his second try, Wallace started by hitting on 22 of 25 and wrapped up his next round at 20 of 25 for a total of 42 of 50, to get his 81 out of 100 for the highest score out of 60.
“Parker did an excellent job during the tournament,” coach Wallace said. “We switched him from shooting right-handed to shooting left-handed at the beginning of this season, because he has a very dominant left eye. His score was lower throughout the regular season due to him learning and adjusting to his new shooting position. The past few weeks Parker has started getting more comfortable and his score has been increasing, so he has been finding his zone.”
Also on the Novice side, Elam posted a 29 through her round, but then drilled 36 of 50 on her second attempt for a 65 and 10th place, and August Harvey totaled 32-30 to get 62 points and a 23rd-place tie in the Novice event.
Neal, Kaleb Pence, Louis Red Cloud, Andrew Richman and Hunter Wagenblast were part of the junior varsity group that averaged 36.2 in the first round, but jumped up to 37.8 in the second round.
Neal notched a 41-42 for his 83, which was even with Wagenblast (43-40-83), so both tied for 16th place.
Pence (34-40-74) was in a tie for 60th place, and both Red Cloud (35-30-65) and Richman (28-37-65) topped out in a tie for 84th place.
In the varsity ranks, O’Brien and Karl Wilson paced Dufur with an 86 out of 100 to wind up tied for 83rd place in the standings, as O’Brien tallied a 45 in the opening round, while Wilson had a 43-43.
Caleb Olson shot a 38 in the first round and hit on 35 of 50 in the final round to score 73 points and garner a tie for 163rd place.
“I want to give Caleb credit because he had to shoot independently/solo, which is a really challenging thing to do,” coach Wallace said. “It’s very difficult to get your timing, you need to pace yourself. It’s easier to shoot with a full squad (3-4 other shooters).”
The USA High School Clay Target League started in 2001 and is an independent provider of clay target shooting sports through the Oregon State High School Clay Target League, as an extracurricular co-ed and adaptive activity to high schools.
The League’s priorities are safety, fun, and marksmanship – in that order.
About one thousand young shooting sport enthusiasts in grades six through 12, who have earned a league safety certificate, get to practice and compete weekly for nine weeks every spring in a virtual competition against other teams in the state.
Practices and competition are conducted at a shooting range near the school’s location, where individual and team scores are submitted and compared online against other conference teams.
Each participant’s average score throughout the regular season determines how they are bracketed in the state tournament.
In order to get the most out of his shooters, coach Wallace assembled a strong group of assistants like Jim Wilson, Gabe Red Cloud, Skip Zapffe, and Tina Neal.
Neal kept score during the regular-season events, Jim Wilson was the team’s official scorekeeper at state, Gabe Red Cloud earned the title of Range Safety Officer, and Zapffe is a top-level senior shooter who worked with the kids throughout the season.
“It takes the support of these folks, along with all the other parents, to have such a great season,” coach Wallace said. “We have always had a great group of kids and families involved with the team. It’s a great program and we really enjoy everyone who is involved.”