By Nick Simonson
In post-to-post fashion, the Bismarck State College Clay Target League (BSC CTL) team took the USA College Clay Target League’s (USA CCTL) Conference 1A-1 Fall National Trap Title with dominant shooting performances from its team members competing in just their first season for the Mystics.
“I am tickled to death with the results of our inaugural season,” said head coach Darryl Howard, “BSC will be a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come with our state’s caliber of shooters,” he added, suggesting the early success has quickly put the college on the map as a destination for many top-level high school clay target shooters in North Dakota and surrounding states.
Jenna Thompson, a graduate of Mandan High School, closed out her autumn with a perfect 50 and took home top honors for female shooters in the conference, averaging 23.1 on the season which also placed her tops overall in the national ladies’ rankings between the two USA CCTL conferences. Cassidy Lipelt, a Legacy High School graduate, finished third in the conference and fourth nationally with an average of 21.9. Kaitlyn Metzger and Alizabeth Krick finished seventh and tenth in ladies’ 1A-1 competition, rounding out a strong showing for the Mystics’ women shooters in their inaugural season.
“To be the top female shooter in all of the USA College Clay Target League feels like a dream come true, I never expected to come this far in my shooting career and cannot wait to move forward and see what the spring season with BSC brings to me and my teammates,” Thompson said, “I would just like to personally thank all the coaches and volunteers that helped contribute to making the BSC team possible, it really means a lot to me, personally, but I know it means a lot to us as a team; I was glad to have some great teammates who pushed me to do my best and I was happy to do the same for them,” she added.
On the men’s side, Bryer Erickson, a graduate of Devils Lake High School, led the Mystics and finished third in Conference 1A-1 with an average of 23.7, netting him a seventh-place finish in the country. Beulah High School graduate Cade Steffan finished fourth overall in the conference and nabbed a top-ten national ranking with an average of 23.6. Ayden Kautzman, alumni of Mott-Regent High School, finished tied for sixth in the conference and was the fourth Mystic shooter to average 23 or better on the season. While the dominant performance of the team was a surprise to many, Dr. Douglas Jensen, BSC President, saw the potential early on as he engaged with the student-athletes throughout the start of the season.
“As I got to come out to the club and to interact with the students, and the families, and the coaches, and see how professional and how dedicated it was, to be honest with you, I’m not too shocked right now that they had this level of success, because you could see it; it was in the workings and there was professionalism around them, they have achieved a result and they worked hard,” said Dr. Jensen who was instrumental in establishing the BSC CTL team in the fall of 2020.
Started just two weeks before the USA CCTL registration deadline, the BSC CTL team competed against eight other teams in Conference 1A-1, besting runner-up Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn., for the title. Other teams competing in USA CCTL Conference 1A-1 Fall League included: North Central Kansas Technical College, University of Jamestown (ND), Paul Smith’s (NY) College, McPherson (KS) College, North Central Missouri College, Northwest Kansas Technical College and Wilmington (OH) College. In addition to this sudden leadership on the competitive shooting sports front, Jensen recognizes the college’s close ties to the outdoors and the cultures of hunting and fishing steeped in the family ties and traditions that students bring to BSC when they enroll and those help further their participation on the team and their on-campus education.
“You have various hunting seasons, you have various opportunities for biking and hiking and fishing and that all ties together, so it becomes very deep to who we are as a culture,” Dr. Jensen states, “when you look at BSC, where our campus is located and the number of people that come from the community to walk our trails, to walk our property, and to be part of that just tells us how closely this institution is aligned with the community,” he concludes.
For more information on Bismarck State College, visit bismarckstate.edu; for news and updates on the BSC CTL team, log on to mrctl.org. Information on the USA College Clay Target League can be found at usacollegeclaytarget.com.
Featured Photo: Strong Start. The Bismarck State College Clay Target League team won the National Conference 1A-1 Trap Shooting Title in their first season. The inaugural team consisted of (Top L-R) Cassidy Lipelt, Jenna Thompson, Alizabeth Krick; (Bottom L-R) Bryer Erickson, Ayden Kautzman, Cade Steffan, Trenton Zainhofsky, Evan Bier. Not Pictured: Kaitlyn Metzger. Photo Submitted.