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The team more than doubled in size and stepped up to new challenge for the 2018 school season

SUBMITTED PHOTO: TODD TOLBOE - The 2018 Wilsonville High trap shooting team. Last year, Wilsonville High School began its foray into competitive trap shooting, and took fifth place in its league with a team of nine competitors. In the opening season, the Wildcats were competing against smaller schools. In 2018, Wilsonville fielded a team of 24 clay-shooters and was bumped into a conference with larger teams.

"We are in the largest league this year," Wilsonville coach Todd Tolboe said. "We are the smallest team in the largest league. Molalla is in our league, and they have 39 kids on their team. We have 24 kids."

The competition was Hermiston, Molalla, Canby, Newberg, and Union High, teams with a higher likelihood of hunting and shooting. The team took fourth place in the conference, besting Newberg and Union when the dust had settled. Wilsonville, a relatively urban city by comparison to its competition, had to work to make up the ground. Ultimately, the Wildcats did.

In five competitions over the course of the season, the teams compete using shotguns, competitors try to hit as many targets as they can in a 25 shot round and rotate between five stations. There are two rounds per competition, with 50 shots total.

With 24 athletes, including several who had never fired a shotgun before the season, Wilsonville improved across the board. An average score of 19 per round was required for the athletes to letter, and 10 did so by the end of the season. Led by Cameron Welch with a season average of 23, the Wildcats actually had several athletes qualify for the state competition in Hillsboro on Saturday, June 23, but due to scheduling conflicts none could make it.

"They're all going to be camping or out of town on family vacations," Tolboe said. "We voted as a team. You have to have five go to be a time, and we couldn't get five. I am disappointed, but I understand because it's also the dead week for sports here in town."

Despite being unable to make the state tournament, 10 of Wilsonville's trap shooting team were invited to participate in the national competition held in Minnesota in September.

Another thing that was a strong indicator of the teams continued growth was the support from the community. Even at a time where gun control is a topic of national conversation, Tolboe says he has received nothing but positive feedback from the people in the community.

"The community has been great about it," Tolboe said. "I think they understand how we go about it. It's the only high school sport with zero injuries in its history. We're all about safety, fun, and marksmanship."

The trap shooting team takes place during the busiest sports season of the year, but was able to field athletes from other sports due to the flexibility with its practices. Lacrosse and track and field athletes competed on the team, and were still able to compete in their sports as well. Tolboe wants people to know that the team is accessible, even if you have a busy schedule or do not own a firearm.

"Don't let not owning a firearm be a deterrent," Tolboe said. "Canby Rod and Gun Club (where the team practices) has been very generous. They have an education foundation. We have one student athlete that is very small. The shotgun that her father owned is too big, and we have youth shotguns. We fit her, and her scores tripled in a week."

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