Joe Winfrey, back left, Austin Smith, Tyler Johnson, Hunter Smith, Rylee McCart, Wyatt Spalding, front left, Garrett Mallery, Brittney Rohl, Clay Cagle, Noah Jones and Wyatt Gould proudly display their guns and the Grizzly Claybreakers’ sponsor banner. Not pictured are Carson Chavez, Jaycee Ballard, Jake McCart, Kendahl Loflin, Cole Taylro and Aiden Phillips. Photo by Nate Spalding

Claybreakers wrap up series shoots

After 57 practices in the wind, rain and snow, the sometimes horrible driving conditions to shoots, and the countless competitions themselves, the Lassen Grizzly Claybreakers finished their sixth and final series shoot in Fallon, Nevada on May 20. For the Claybreakers, it all came down to this last 100-target shoot to decide who the season winners were going to be.

Leading off for the varsity was team captain Noah Jones, who crushed 97 targets. Right behind him was Clay Cagle, who shot a 94.

Then came Brittney Rohl with a 93, Garrett Mallery with a 91 and finally Wyatt Spalding who struggled a little, shooting an 85.

With the scores combined, the varsity shot a total of 459 targets out of 500, up two targets from the last shoot, putting them in fifth place for the shoot and fourth place overall for the season.

“It was just amazing,” said head coach Phil Giusti, “every single team member had parents at the shoot, some had grandparents, friends, neighbors and even sponsors came to see if the Grizzlies could pull it off, and pull it off they did.”

Giusti continued, “You know, the first two shoots the varsity and the JV teams finished last, but we kept pushing and kept trying. The other teams may have out shot us, but they weren’t going to out practice us, and it paid off.

For the junior varsity Claybreakers, team captain Tyler Johnson showed up sick with shaky hands, but determined to support his team. Giusti instructed him to stay in the shade and drink lots of water in between rounds, and watched in amazement as Johnson not only toughed it out, but annihilated 92 targets to lead the junior varsity team.

Then it was on to Hunter Smith who broke 90 out of his 100 targets despite being in recovery from pneumonia. “That is dedication at its finest,” Giusti said, “obviously, the team came first with this crew!”

Next came freshmen superstar Kendahl Loflin smoking 88 targets, followed by Joe Winfrey, who was off his game with 85 broken targets.

Austin Smith was next and shot his way through the year from the bottom squad to the top squad, breaking 82 targets.

Right behind was Wyatt Gould, who has been stepping up his game with an 81 and Jaycee Ballard rounding things out with a 75 score.

The team score for the junior varsity Claybreakers was a whopping 437, up nine targets from their last shoot, placing them second for the shoot, and securing second place for the season.

Giusti said, “We are so proud of these kids for pulling together and making this happen. To come from last place and make it all the way to the top five in the state, is just amazing! It is not just the dedication of the kids, it is also their parents who get them to practice and competitions, as well as paying the bills that come with both practice and the competitions.

“We as coaches make the kids and their parents a promise at the beginning of the year; no matter how hard they work, the other coaches and I will work even harder, and I think that promise is what brought us to this level of dedication and commitment.”

Giusti later continued, “I can’t thank the dedicated parents and sponsors enough for helping us bring trophies to Lassen High School once again. We will be starting with a clean slate at the finals in Stockton on June 17 and 18. This will be a 200-target, two-day event, possibly followed by a trip to Las Vegas in July for the National Competition. Hope to see you there!”