KEARNEY — For the second year in a row, Kearney’s girls trapshooting team is the state champions after taking the top prize earlier this spring.
While not all teams are made up of only ladies, Kearney’s girls competed against nearly 1,000 participants and 200 teams, outshooting their closest competition by almost 50 targets.
Members of the ladies state champion team are: Allison Darling, Ellyssa Gallinger, Peisert sisters of Madison and Savannah and Abigail Manners. Darling, Gallinger, Madison and Manners were all part of last year’s club team that won state while Savannah, who just finished eighth grade, is new to the championship group.
“It cannot be overstated how much they work together and how really dedicated to being great they are,” coach Jonathan Hart said. “I don’t think people understand how hard it is to shoot 90 out of 100 birds. … It’s one thing to say, ‘I’m going to go out and shoot,’ and another when you get out there in conditions and do it consistently when you are facing so many variables like how the bird comes out of the house, the angles, the velocity, weather, change in trap houses and change in locations. They are the definition of determination and grit. They went out there and took care of business.”
Going into her senior year in the fall as a two-time state champ with her eye on a third prize to end her high school shooting career, Darling said there’s no real way to describe how it feels knowing her and her teammates earned two-straight titles.
“It’s something you hope for but don’t ever really think will happen but we all came together and made it happen. It’s pretty neat,” she said. “... It’s all about a lot of practice. We shoot every Thursday and in our competitions outside our Kearney team. It’s just repetition.”
With nearly 100 shooters overall on the Kearney team that competes in both spring and fall seasons, Kearney’s team is the largest in the state. The ladies aren’t the only state title holders. Individual awards are broken up into six divisions: ladies, junior high, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. High school team awards are divided into three divisions: ladies, junior high and top high school team. Members of the Kearney club have taken team and individual titles.
“Last year we had an eighth-grade team win state,” Hart said. “... I think our team is large because we do stress a team atmosphere and try to be as flexible as possible with the schedule. We try to create an environment where people want to come out and shoot. … We have kids from all different areas. We have kids from other sports, kids who come out after play practice, who are in the choir, robotics and on.”
Darling, who said she got into the sport because of her dad, Scott Darling, who first took her to the range, has been shooting since eighth grade and now can hit 95 out of 100 targets.
Fellow crack shot and member of the ladies’ team, Gallinger’s best score stands at 48 of 50 clay targets.
Gallinger, also heading into her senior year, said she’s proud to be part of Kearney’s team.
“I feel really lucky because it’s made up of a team of dedicated girls,” she said. “... When you’re watching, it seems a lot easier than when you are actually going there on the line. You really need instinct development.”
Hart said instinct and finely-tuned muscle memory is something all of the ladies’ team has developed.
“Shooting is such a precise sport and the girls’ success completely falls on them and their family support,” the coach said.