The Claybreakers pose for a photo after taking first in both varsity and JV categories at the CYSSA state finals in Stockton, California Saturday, June 15.

Claybreakers first place in state finals

Saturday, June 15 and 16 the Claybreakers hit the road to Stockton, California to the CYSSA State Finals.

This was a 200 target event over two days with a possible team score of 1,000. The Grizzlies met the 90 degree heat with some heat of their own.

Both the varsity and the JV were coming into the finals after ending the season series shoots in first place. The rules say that at the state finals all teams start over with a clean slate, and start over the Grizzlies did.

For the varsity it was Caleb Montgomery and Kendahl Loflin crushing 192 targets apiece followed by team captain Tyler Johnson’s smoking 189 targets. Then it was Jacob Daniels 188 Hunter Smith and Keegan Divine with a pair of 187s, followed by Wyatt Gould’s 186, Jewel Kerby’s 184 Jake McCart’s 184, Bailey Spalding’s and Dillon Ross at 182, Rylee McCart 176 and Morgan Rausch, Nate Biggs and Parker Somerville filled out the varsity roster with a team score of 948 targets out of 1000 handily took first place at the finals over second place Sutter and third place Berean Christian.

The JV Grizzlies, who wouldn’t stay down all year, they continued their rampage and were taking no prisoners with freshman Michael Cizin stealing the show smoking 188 targets followed by Rylan Picken’s at 185, Aidan Adam’s at 183, Alexis Picken’s at 181, JV team captain Will Picken’s at 179, Chase Roby at 173, Daniel Jones at 170, Titus Toscano at 169, Austin Stephenson at 167, Kat Baldwin 161, and Dharma Jones was our 11 person JV squad for a team score of 916 good enough for for first place at the finals and defeating second place Sutter and third place Berean just as the varsity had done.

Coach Phil Giusti said, “My varsity wrecking crew what can I say about them that hasn’t already been said? They just trounced the competition all year and then came back for good measure and won the finals. They had me a little worried about their scores on the Saturday shoot, and I told them on Sunday morning that each and every one of them had to give me more today if we were going to win this shoot.

“Well, guess what? They did and left the 2019 season with six out of six first place finishes and then came back and won the finals. I have two great shooters graduating with team captain Tyler Johnson and Jake McCart, and God I’m going to miss those two, I feel like I raised them from babies and will never forget them.

“But as far as the varsity team next year, we have 11 JV’s moving up to varsity next year and all are great shooters and will make up for our loss. As for my JV’s they again stepped up to the plate for me.

“I was told by several coaches that I couldn’t win with only 11 JV’s but I didn’t tell them that and even if I did they wouldn’t have heard me. After scratching and clawing their way to the top all season, and then came to the finals and won, despite losing two of our top shooters to other sports that conflicted with our shoot schedule. In my opinion, my 11 JV shooters had more heart than 30 shooters on any other team, they just wouldn’t stop trying to win.

“The late, great Vince Lombardi once said falling down is not losing, it’s failing to get back up that loses and we fell many times during the season and even a little on the first day of the finals and not wanting to put too much pressure on the young team on Sunday morning, I told them we did good yesterday but I would like to add a little insurance to that just to be sure.

“To be honest I didn’t think we had a chance to win first with those Saturday scores. Well as usual my JV’s responded as the other teams were getting hot and tired our Grizzlies stood taller and stronger on Sunday by shooting an extra dozen targets over Saturday and handily won the finals.

“I’ll be honest, my heart was pounding out of my chest from the first shot they took till the last. I wanted them to get this win that they so much deserved. Then we had to wait almost two hours as the computers chugged away and tabulated all the scores. At the award ceremonies they announced the winning teams from third to first and when they announced the second place team score I reached over to my co-coach Nate Spalding to shake hands and we both said at the same time our JVs won it! It was a very emotional moment to say the least!

“Next stop, were going to try our luck at the U.S.Nationals in Las Vegas on July 12 and 13 where our Grizzlies will be competing against teams from all over the United States. I’ve won there before, and I believe this crew can win there again.”

Giusti finished with, “I would like to thank Lassen High School for believing in us and all the great people in the community for supporting us and making this sport affordable to my kids. If any Lassen High students would like to be a part of this great team next season. come and join us, beginners are welcome.”