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Claybreakers: Students find time for fun

The 2017 Ellsworth Claybreakers Photo courtesy of Denton Achenbach

Seniors were graduating.

Baseball and softball each made it to the regional finals.

Track sent athletes to sectionals and state.

Add in rainy weather to force things to reschedule and there’s added chaos.

To take a break from all of that, some Ellsworth High School students decided they wanted to add one more thing into the mix: trap shooting. The Junior Claybreakers are in their third year competing in the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League. The team grows every year with head coach Denton Achenbach.

“I think, like anything that you enjoy doing, you find time to do it,” Achenbach said. “Even though it is a sport, it's more of a hobby and it gives the kids a different type of competition.”

The Claybreakers are currently in third place in Conference 10 of the WSCTL behind Tomah and Boscobel after they posted the conference’s second-best score in the last week of the season.

Junior Zach Nugent was the top golfer for the Panthers this season and also led the Claybreakers with 23⅓  shots made per 25-shot round.

“With all the stuff I’m involved in the spring it can be challenging to organize all the golf meets and trap shooting time, but it’s definitely worth it,” Nugent said.

Achenbach has a theory as to why so many kids are drawn to trap shooting.

“The biggest thing that I hear from kids and parents is that it's something that kids can do together and have fun,” Achenbach said. “In so many of our sports today there's a lot of pressure to be lifting weights and working out and doing camps, but this is a sport where kids can just have fun. There isn't a lot of pressure.”

Achenbach compared it to the way he remembers competing in sports as a kid. He explained that there were instances where kids would have fun in between games of a baseball tournament by swimming and having fun.

“Trap shooting is more of a laid back and have fun kind of sport,” Nugent said. “We meet once a week whenever you can make it down to the Rod and Gun and shoot your round for the week. “There is always a bunch of people down there, so it’s a good time.”

Senior Katie Trunkel, who played softball for the Panthers, said the balance of competition and fun is what makes it worthwhile.

“As a senior it was my last opportunity to shoot in a league where it’s more competitive,” Trunkel said. “Although we do travel to state and get ranked, I look at it more as something I do for fun.”

In her first year with the sport, Trunkel had the top Claybreakers’ girls score for the week of Wednesday, May 10.

Trunkel also said it was worthwhile to be involved in trap shooting and softball because each sport offered her different perspectives on being competitive.

“Being involved in different types of extra curriculars like softball and trap is extremely important,” Trunkel said. “Softball is more of a team sport. (In softball) without working together you will not be able to achieve the common goal.

“Trap shooting is more individualized. Although we are ranked by individuals and as a team, it really comes down to you and your skill set.”

Even as the Claybreakers make their way to the state competition in Rome Saturday, June 10, it’s a laid-back focus on fun.

“I want to do well, just like any other sport, but the atmosphere before and after shooting is a little more laid back and fun than other sports,” Nugent said.