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The fall season of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League got underway last week with 2,800 athletes from 110 different schools competing across the state.  The fall league, which is about one-quarter the size of the spring league, has been growing in popularity but differs from the opposite season in length and the fact there is no state competition at the end.

But, this hasn't dulled interest with NRHEG as the team is fielding its biggest fall squad with 51 athletes. This puts the team in the largest conference competing against teams from Northfield, Alexandria, Buffalo, Farmington, East View High, Park of Cottage Grove, and White Bear Lake. The key to shooting with a large squad, interestingly enough, isn't about having a handful of excellent shooters so much as having a lot of average to above average shooters.

The NRHEG team, which won both of their conference bids in the fall and spring last school year, currently finds itself trailing a couple of those types of squads. The leading team from Buffalo had just three athletes in the top 20 scores for the conference while the NRHEG squad had seven.

So, the team finds itself having to climb back up over the next five weeks if they want to repeat their placing a year ago. Three shooters chalked up a perfect round of 25 in the first week. Two of them, Braden Routh (NRHEG) and Noah Lund (Waseca) shared the top score for the team with rounds of 48/50,third best in the conference. The other shooter was Jaden Holthus (WHS) whose perfect round was his first. These three were joined by Tory Christenson (NRHEG), Clay Stenzel (NRHEG), Alex Romer (Albert Lea), and Caden Beauvais(NRHEG) for spots in the 25 shooters in the conference.

“What is exciting about the potential here is many of these kids are younger shooters and some of the team's traditionally top shooters did not make the top 20,” said NRHEG coach Dan Sorum. “So, this is far from what the team could do when they fire on all cylinders.”

The team will hit the range again this week to try and close the gap Buffalo High has built. They shoot each Wednesday starting at 4 p.m. at the Owatonna Gun Club.

Fans are welcome to come and watch.

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