College, high school students participate in Upper Midwest Conference Championships
Some high school and college students are using one local shooting competition to aim high at their futures.
ACUI had their Upper Midwest Conference Championships at the Heartland Public Shooting Park this weekend. This is the 50th year for the Collegiate Clay Target Championships.
Twenty-three colleges and five high schools entered into the competition. The best shooting teams from nine states participated.
Most of the participants have been shooting for many years, and joined their school's shooting team as a way to continue doing something they love.
"I like to go hunting. So shooting is a great sport to do if you're into the outdoors. I went to Papillion La Vista, and I just shot trap there, and then came to college and I have to shoot trap, skeet, sporting clays," said Tommy Sossa, a freshman at Concordia University.
Students could shoot in four different shot gun sports involving clay pigeons.
ACUI officials said the first year they held the competition in Grand Island, they had 49 participants. This year, they had 266.
Many high school students use the competition as a way to get their name out to college coaches.
This is the case for Mason Weller. He has been shooting for about seven years, and participated in about 60 shooting competitions just this past summer.
"My neighbor actually took me out one day and we went and shot some blue rocks and just got me hooked I guess, and I've been doing it ever since," Weller said.
These competitions are a family affair for the Wellers. Mason's mom volunteered at this one as a scorer.
" It teaches him a lot of perseverance, determination, hard work. To get where he wants to be he has to practice a lot. So it's really good for him, and it's fun to watch him succeed," said Eudora Weller.
College coaches said they use these competitions to recruit high school students like Weller.
One coach at Grand View University said he likes to encourage students to look at the school first, and then the shooting team.
"I personally always look for a good fit for the kids, they have to be a good student," said Charlie Mundy, shooting coach at Grand View University. "Foremost, because you can't be out here on the field just like any other sport unless you're doing well academically. I tell my high school recruits to keep their grades up as best they can, because honestly that ends up being scholarship money for them."
Mundy said many schools are also providing scholarships for students on their shooting teams.
The winners from the competition will move on to the national championships, which will be in March in San Antonio at the National Shooting Complex.