Chasing a clay target 4.3” wide and 1.1” tall traveling away at 42 mph is not for everyone, but the De Smet High School Clay Target Team seems to have fun and is good at busting clays.
Finishing out the regular season, the De Smet team placed second in Class 1A Conference 4 with Winner-Colome placing first, and third place going to Hot Springs.
Conference top 25 male final results saw Benthin taking first place, Close placed 5th, Elkins placed 8th and Tucker Anderson placed 17th. Conference top 25 female final results saw Evelyn Close place 8th and Candice Aamot place 13th.
DJ Close scored the team's first ever, and personal best, of 25 straight in a round during the 4th week of competition. During the 5th and final week of competition, Close scored another 25 along with Elkins, who also scored his first 25 ever.
The final rounds shot by Benthin to finish up his high school career were an incredible two consecutive rounds of 25 clays totaling 50 straight, a new team record and his personal best.
On Sat., June 12 in Aberdeen, under clear skies with 90-degree temperatures and a light crossing breeze out of the west, the 2021 State Tournament of the South Dakota State High School Clay Target League for Class 1A was held.
The De Smet High School team took 10th out of 23 South Dakota high school teams in the competition, with 10 of De Smet’s 20 members competing. Winner-Colome took first place, followed by Britton-Hecla, and third place went to Belle Fourche.
The league’s Class 2A competed on Sunday, with 12 other South Dakota high schools. The tournament encompassed Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays and 5-Stand.
In the Varsity High Gun Overall category, the team’s three seniors did very well. Trevor Benthin scored 93/100, placing overall in a 3-way tie for 18th place with Caleb Simons of Hot Springs and Riley Jones of Britton-Hecla. In the male category, Benthin placed in a 3-way tie for 14th with the same individuals. Meanwhile, Koden Elkins scored 90/100 in a 5-way tie for 32nd with Max Hartmann of Tripp-Delmont-Armour, Orin Olson from Belle Fourche, Brandon Van Zee of Dakota Christian and Brayden Carbajal from Belle Fourche. In Varsity male category, Elkins placed in a 5-way tie for 27th with same individuals. DJ Close shot 88/100, putting him in a 3-way tie for 42nd with Jesse Larson of Winner-Colome and Reece Gerlach from McCook Central. Close also finished male category in a 3-way tie for 37th.
Twenty-six state tournament competitors scored perfect rounds of 25 out of a total of 340 competitors. Benthin was the only De Smet team member to score a 25. There were also six competitors who scored two perfect consecutive rounds of 50, two competitors who scored three perfect rounds of 75 and only one competitor, Alex Voyles from Belle Fourche, who scored 100/100 for the day.
In the Junior Varsity High Gun male category, the De Smet team did very well with River Hornig scoring a 92/100 and finishing overall in a 3-way tie for 3rd place along with Ryan Evans from Belle Fourche and Alex Pudwill from Warner. On a reverse run scoring 11 in male category, Hornig ended up tied for 4th with Pudwill.
Chauncey Driscoll scored 73/100 in an 8-way tie at 60th with Noah Manke from Winner-Colome, Isaac Wiley from Webster, Brayden Ziegler from Tripp-Delmont-Armour, Talen Haar from Herreid, Blaine Simantel from Scotland, Tyson Dartt from Wall and Leo Wynia from Hot Springs.
Tanner Tolzin scored 72/100 in a 2-way tie at 68th with Jacob Lee from Warner. Maxxon Kees scored 67/100 in a 4-way tie at 83rd with Kyle Lewis of Aberdeen Central, Drew Chester from Garretson and Owyn Geigle from Wall. Jackson Tolzin shot 55/100 and tied for 106th along with Shane Henderson of Bowdle. Blake Jennings scored 50/100 to earn 108th place.
In the Junior Varsity High Gun female category, Evelyn Close scored 70/100, tied with Danica Middendorp from Dakota Christian.
The team would like to recognize and thank the many supporters and members of the community who have helped with this program during the Spring 2021 season. The Prairie Lakes Pheasant Club, Lake Preston, donated all the team members’ individual fees for registration and participation.
Bill Engels and Alan Hildebrandt donated shells to the team, which assisted with the current lack of availability nationwide.
The De Smet School District allows approval to this Title IX sport.
Thank you to Rick and Barbara Sachen, Jared Tolzin, Murray Wilkins and Darby Fast who coach.
A special thanks to Murray Wilkins who provides the trap range at Stump Field for the team to practice and compete.
There have been innumerable supporters in the past few years who wish to be anonymous, or are not mentioned, whom we also thank.
This concluded the 5th season of the team since 2018 (Spring 2018, 2019, 2021 and Fall 2019, 2020 in addition to the cancellation of Spring 2020 Season due to COVID). The team used over 14,000 clays and shells during this season, which led to great improvement in the sport for all team members. Many are also now looking forward to a successful fall upland bird and waterfowl season.
Safety, fun and marksmanship remain the league and team’s standard.