After competing in the state finals, Garrett Mallery, back left, Noah Jones, Brittney Rohl, Wyatt Spalding, Clay Cagle, Kendahl Loflin, front left, Tyler Johnson, Joe Winfrey, Jake McCart, Hunter Smith, Rylee McCart and Austin Smith join together for an all-team photo. Photo by Melissa Smith

Claybreakers brave heat at state championships

The Claybreakers traveled to Stockton, California for the California Youth Shooting Sports Association State Trap Shooting Championships on Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18.

Every high school and gun club team was in attendance for the event. There were 455 shooters for the varsity and junior varsity event, and as usual, the Lassen Grizzlies made a statement.

This was a 200-target event, 100 on Saturday followed by 100 on Sunday, with a possible team score of 1000.

Coaches Phil Giusti and Nate Spalding traveled down to meet the team. The setting was brutal for the teams as temperatures reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.

Coach Nate Spalding, left, Hunter Smith, Joe Winfrey, Tyler Johnson and head coach Phil Giusti sport the awards won by the Lassen Grizzly Claybreakers on Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18. Photo by Melissa Smith

Giusti commented, “Yeah, the heat affected some of my shooters, and that couldn’t be helped, but Nate and I made sure they stayed hydrated and tried to keep them thinking positive.”

For the varsity team, it was team captain Noah Jones who shined the brightest, breaking 97 clays on Saturday and coming back with a 93 score on Sunday.

Next was Clay Cagle, with a 90 and a 93. Garrett Mallery shot an 86-83 followed by Wyatt Spalding with an 83-77 score and Brittney Rohl with a 77-71.

Although the varsity failed to place at the finals with a team score of 850 targets out of 1000, they still brought home fourth place trophies for the six series shoots.

Giusti commented, “We had a very small varsity team this year, and it was tough to keep them all together during the series shoots. We did the best we could with what we had, and got them from last place to fourth place, and I was okay with that.”

The young junior varsity team was a different story.

The junior varsity Claybreakers came out fighting right out of the gate, finishing the year in second place for the series shoots.

At the finals, the heat affected some of them, but they were still able to fight hard enough to bring home the third place trophy for the finals event.

Team captain Tyler Johnson and Joe Winfrey tied for top gun, both shooting a pair of 88’s. Next was Jake McCart shooting an 83-84. Hunter Smith shot a 77 on Saturday and came back strong on Sunday with an 85 score.

Also coming back strong was Kendahl Loflin, who shot a 76 on Saturday and came back with an 81 score on Sunday.

The varsity team at the state finals includes Noah Jones, left, Brittney Rohl, Garrett Mallery, Clay Cagle and Wyatt Spalding. Photo by Melissa Smith

Rylee McCart shot a 71 and a 79, and Austin Smith also shot to help his team secure the third place trophy.

Giusti said, “I am so proud of these kids for putting the effort in during the heat. A lot of kids just dropped out and didn’t shoot, but none of our Grizzlies showed any signs of weakening.”

Giusti later continued, “It was kind of strange to see; last year we had like one canopy set up for the team and families, this year we had about seven with our team and sponsor banners covering them all.”

At the shoot, the team felt support from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who gladly made the trek to cheer on the Claybreakers.

“I feel like when these JVs become part of our varsity squad next year, there will be no stopping us, and we will be larger and stronger,” Giusti commented. “There has been a lot of interest from incoming freshmen, so hopefully we can build a new JV squad for the 2018 season.

“The Lassen Grizzly Claybreakers dedicated their finals shoot to Caroline Chavez, mother of our third coach Bob Chavez, who passed away just prior to the finals, preventing Chavez from attending, though he kept apprised of events via text messaging.”

The Lassen Grizzly Claybreaker team sincerely appreciates the support given to them throughout the year by Lassen High School, parents and sponsors. Because of such support, the 2017 travel season was made possible.

The Lassen Grizzly Claybreakers also suffered a loss of teammate Cagle from a Wednesday, June 21 automobile accident. At a candlelight vigil held later that evening, Giusti commented on Cagle’s great skill on the trapshooting team. He said, “He was a rock star and he was that good I had to treat him that ways … I’m sure going to miss him.”