The Cumberland County Clay Crusher trap and skeet teams turned in their best overall performance in the eight-year history of their program at the 12th annual Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) state championships held June 20-24 at the Tennessee Clay Target Complex in Nashville.
The rookie (R) trap squad would be the first Clay Crusher trap squad to stand on the podium in Nashville and receive third-place medals since the varsity squad won the championship in 2005.
Rookie coaches James Wattenbarger and Kevin Hembree were thrilled with their charges and were especially proud of Taylor Webb, who won the rookie, female, high-over-all (HOA) runner-up award with a personal best of 148X200, and Clint Kemmer whose 181 was just eight targets behind the HOA male rookie score of 189. Also joining Webb and Kemmer on the medal podium were Darren Kittrell (167), Gabe Whittenburg (160) and Dylan Mowdy at 131 for a 787X1000 score. The hot-shooting Hoodlum Alley Claybusters from Shelbyville once again showed their dominance over the lower level trap divisions to win the rookie championship over Middle Tennessee Christian by an 832 to 807 score.
The Clay Crusher intermediate entry (IE) squad, coached by Chuck Burgess, placed fourth out of 19 squads and missed the podium by just five targets in posting an 861 total. Squad members were Ryley Phillips and Hunter Webb, each with 181, Jordan Burgess (178), Spencer Wooten (168) and Madeline Kittrell at 153. Ty Stone fired a 183 as an IE alternate (non-squad member). The Richland trap team from Lynnville won the IE championship with a 908 score, defeating Hoodlum Alley by just seven targets.
The Cumberland County junior varsity (JV) squad placed a very respectable sixth out of 25 JV squads. This squad was led by Andy Carey with an excellent 194, followed by Casey Clark at 186, Nathan Wattenbarger (182), Cody Chattin (178) and Nate Hembree at 177 for a 917 total.
The JV championship trophy went back to Columbia in the hands of the Spring Hill High School Generals with a 957 total to slip by Collierville High School by just 10 targets.
The intermediate advanced (IA) squad placed eighth out of 25 IA squads in posting an 885 total. Andrew Smith led this squad with a 186 with help from Derek Rose (184), Cody McAnally (180), Andrew Moore (169) and Ally Petersen at 166. IA champ was yet another Hoodlum Alley squad, who easily outpaced the Hardin County Hitmen by a 963 to 937 score.
In the hotly contested varsity (V) division, head coach Fred Petersen predicted that his varsity squads would have to average at least 96X100 to have a shot at being in the top three in the state. His estimate was close but still a bit low. Clay Crusher varsity No.1 squad fired a respectable 942 but was only good for fourteenth place out of 71 squads. Jimmy Weismuller led this squad with a 196, followed by Meghan Server at 191, Thomas Branch and Seth Petersen at 190 each and Nick Grayson at 175. Server was selected for the third time in the last four years to the women’s All-State varsity trap team. This honor recognizes skills equally on the shooting range and in the classroom.
The varsity No. 2 squad composed of Luke Kemmer at 191, Leigh Smith (190), Seth Kemmer (189), Derrick Taylor (186) and Meagan Burgess at 170 for a 926 total tied for 23rd place. Varsity champs was the Henry County No Fly Zone No.1 squad, who won in a shoot-off over the Coffee County Claybusters when both squads posted 974 scores.
To put these scores in perspective on what it now takes to win in this sport, the Cumberland County Jets won the 2005 varsity state championship, while competing against 23 squads, with a 433 in a 500 target event, which translates to an 866 for the 1000 targets of today. That 866 score would have placed 47th in this year’s competition. Based on these numbers, the winning individual scores have jumped from roughly 87X100 in 2005 to 97X100 in 2012.
Early this year, Petersen offered skeet as an optional second shotgun sport within the Clay Crusher program. Nine trap team members accepted the challenge and three squads were formed with one each in varsity, JV and IA. Tennessee offers three shotgun sports within the SCTP – trap, skeet and sporting clays.
With less than one year of skeet experience and in just their second competitive event, the JV squad’s third-place total of 260X300 was just one target away from runner-up Haywood County’s score of 261 and three behind the champion's score of 263, posted by the East Tennessee Straight Shooters from Knoxville. Eleven squads competed in JV. Clay Crusher squad members were Nate Hembree at 92X100, Andy Carey (88) and Nathan Wattenbarger at 80. All three received third place medals. Megan Burgess fired an 83 as a JV alternate.
The IA skeet squad of Derek Rose at 90, Cody McAnally (76) and Ally Petersen at 74 for a 240 total finished in a tie for seventh place out of 15 squads. Petersen’s score of 74 won the female HOA trophy. IA champ was again the East Tennessee Straight Shooters with a 276.
The varsity skeet squads 272 total placed tenth out of 25 squads. Squad members were Seth Petersen with a 97, Meghan Server (96) and Derrick Taylor with a 79. Server’s 96 won the female HOA trophy. Varsity champions were the Jefferson County 4-H Patriots with a 288.
This event closes the Clay Crusher season. No individual team members or squads are planning to compete at the SCTP national championships in Sparta, IL, later this month.
Two Clay Crusher members, Seth Petersen and Meghan Server, are presently competing at the national junior Olympic championships in Colorado Springs, CO. Both qualified for this prestigious event earlier this year in May in state-wide competition at Paris, TN.