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Zoey Ludeking prepares to shoot a clay pigeon during a practice session for the Tomah High School Trap Shooting team May 21. Ludeking has been a member of the team for three years and is ranked third in the conference. 

It is a year to remember for the Tomah High School Trap Shooting team.

Coach Duane Hruska said he is so proud of how consistently his team is performing during the 2017-18 season.

It was unbelievable, he said.

“All we do is keep adding bigger and better numbers every week,” he said. “Week three I was so amazingly proud of how they shot as a team and the numbers they were putting up. It was astounding.”

Going into week three, the team had a 500-point lead over the second-place team, and by the end of that week, Tomah added 800 points to move 1,300 points ahead of the next team, Hruska said.

During the week of May 14, the Timberwolves had three different kids put up 50s.

“We have four kids that are in the Top 100 in the state,” Hruska said. “Those four kids are in the top 21 in the state, and two of them are ... battling for top shooter in the state.”

The team is also doing well in its conference, Hruska said. Six of the boys and five of the girls are in the Top 25. One boy is in the top four, and one girl is ranked third.

“They really, really shot well this year,” he said. “As a whole especially, they shot consistently every week.”

Hruska said he’s more excited this year for the state competition on June 9 in Rome than last year. The team finished fourth for the 2016-17 season.

The biggest difference between last season and this one is the addition of 19 more shooters for a total of 58 and better coaching, Hruska said.

“(The coaches) kind of shoulder the blame as to how we were coaching last year. I don’t feel we helped them to succeed as we should have, and we’ve changed a few things and ... we’re better giving them the help they need and the scores I feel are reflective of that.”

Hruska credits the coaching change to a seminar he went to about participating in different sports. It helped him in his own performance and revealed improvements he could make to his coaching.

Team member Zoey Ludeking, who is ranked third in conference, said the coaches helped her a lot this year. They helped her find a stance that has allowed her to shoot better.

“The coaches just stood behind me when I was struggling and just motivated me and told me that I could do it, to never give up and just keep my head down, and then I finally started shooting better,” she said. “They just gave advice to stand still, because I was leaning toward the target, and that didn’t work for me. It works for some people, it just depends on the person. So that really helped − and keeping my head down, and we adjusted my gun a lot, and that helped too.”

This year was Ludeking’s third year on the team. She joined because it looked fun and she wanted to surpass her brother.

It’s a great sport to be involved with, Ludeking said. She has made a lot of friends.

“I like just getting outside and doing something, just for fun. It’s competitive, but it’s more fun than anything,” she said. “It’s competition, but what your score is it’s your score, you can’t do anything about that except be happy for one another and your score and just work better the next week.”

Cade Peterson, who has been on the team for six years, said trap shooting is a way to get students not involved in other sports or activities out and about.

“I probably joined because my family brought me up in it ... but it gets you with friends, it helps get you out, talk to people,” he said. “Everybody can do it − it’s not like basketball where it’s highly competitive, it’s where you can just start out and still shoot every day. ... It also teaches kids gun safety and how to properly use a gun — responsibly and respectively.”

After the state competition the top five shooters on the team will have the opportunity to participate in a national championship in Mason, Michigan, from July 12-15.

Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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