A strong start at the state clay target tournament set up Owatonna for a great finish. The Huskies took eighth out of 40 teams at the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) event Friday in Prior Lake. OHS shot 472 out of a possible 500 targets. They busted 241 clays in the first round and 231 in the final round. Red Wing won the title with a 484 score.

Ezra Buck led the way with a perfect 100-for-100 day, his first ever. Joe Earl scored 96. Josh Kiefer had 95. Taylor Busho busted 91 targets. Joey Brein had 90. Earl shot 90 later in the day during the individual tournament. He is the first Husky to qualify for individually for state. Busho is the first OHS female to shoot at state. OHS also went to the MSHSL event in 2018. Teams qualified at the trap shooting league's state tournament in Alexandria this month for Friday's tournament. The Huskies entered as the 11th seed. The alternates were JR Henriksen and Darren Leckner.

Buck (100/100), a junior, has previously shot a 99, "Ever since then I've been working to get a hundred. Obviously it was a beautiful morning out and finally I got it. So I'm definitely happy about it." He said it's important to take it one-at-a-time and not stress over it, "There is (stress). But you've got to train yourself to forget about that and move forward." He had a slight hiccup at the 97th 'bird,' holding his gun slightly wrong, but reset and closed it out, "Yeah. 100 was (cool). As soon as it came out, I pretty much knew."

Busho (91/100), a sophomore, was pleased with the results, "I'm just really happy. It's my first year up here and I'm just really glad how I shot." This is her second year on the trap team after initially gaining experience on her grandparent's farm. "Everyone (on the high school team) is so nice, encouraging, just uplifting. If you have a bad day, you come back strong next week because everyone's so nice...I'm the first girl to qualify for here from Owatonna. It's been fun to shoot with the top boys, kick their butts a little bit."

Brein (90/100), a senior, felt it was a great day for the team, "With how the whole team shot, I think it was super good. We started off super strong, and ended strong too." As he wraps up his prep career, he looks for more success for the squad in the future, "We're able to do it with the team being so new yet...I think it's awesome that we made it. And hopefully the team keeps making it year after year."

Kiefer (95/100), a senior, tied for the top spot Tuesday in Alexandria with a 99. He finished second after a tiebreaker. He spoke of what it takes to recover from a miss, or a 'loss' as its termed in trap shooting, "Sometimes it can get into a lot of peoples' heads, but just taking the second or two while you have it to take a deep breath and get ready to go back into it without having a bunch of pressure roaming around in your head, just mess you up more."

Earl (96/100 in team 90/100 for individual tournament), a senior, said it was a good day, "We had a pretty solid start. Kind of slipped in the second half. But we finished strong. It's fun to come up here and shoot with your teammates and being one of the top 40 teams in the state is impressive." On being a senior and one of the original team members, "So when we first started, you didn't know what was going on at all. Finally, jumping all the way to your senior year, being able to go to state twice as a team, and then  finally accomplishing it for the individual, it's pretty impressive." Earl has excelled at some national events in the past and is preparing to participate in the ATA (Amateur Trap Shooting Association) in the future. He recently won his division at an event at Cabela's with a 99-out-of-100, in his debut appearance.

Huskies coach Mike Kingland was thrilled to be back at the state tournament. The day was an emotional one for the team. Former coach Kyle Wolfe passed away from cancer earlier this year. A celebration of his life was held Friday evening. Kingland said it was a goal to get the team and at least one individual to state.

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