FREEBORN, Minn. (KTTC) -- A sport that's gaining more popularity among Minnesota High Schoolers is catching on quicker than lacrosse. With 57 teams representing 100 schools and 1,500 student athletes... The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League is doubling in size each year.
The howl of the wind ripped through the fields near Freeborn Sunday afternoon, but that wasn't the only sound tearing through the air. Shots rang out of the barrels of the Alden-Conger clay target team.
"Most guys that are season shooters, they don't want to shoot league in bad weather... this kind of wind. But the kids... it's just exciting to them," said Alden-Conger Assistant Clay Target Team Coach Dale Johannsen.
"Some of these kids have shot in snow, shot in rain, and shot in wind," said Alden Conger Coach Pamela Koenen. It's mostly wind, here near the shores of Freeborn Lake at the Freeborn Gun Club. "They know they have no control over it and you don't get to pick your weather. You have to shoot," said Keenan.
It may seem cut-throat, but the team makes do.
"It was really hard shooting with the wind today. The straight-away ones weren't too bad since the wind wasn't affecting them too much they just peaked really fast," said team member Tommy Geesman.
And most of them didn't fly too far. With hundreds of clays loaded up in the thrower. Each team-member shot at 50 practice targets. Practice they'll need for next week's season opener.
"It's a virtual league. So the teams won't have to travel. They shoot all their rounds at their home club," said Johannsen. "They call in on the computer once a week and the state league takes care of all the scoring and the pairings."
This will be Coach Koenen's team's first year in the league... which can also be said for her husband who happens to be the coach for Glenville-Emmon's.
"As far as competing we haven't really gotten into that," said Duane Keenan. "We're in different conferences. So it's not too big of a problem that way."
"It's a friendly rivalry I guess if you want to say that," said Pamela.
The league operates separately from the Minnesota State High School League, but like any other school sport, students have to follow the same rules to be eligible. Such as staying clear of drugs, alcohol, maintaining good grades and the obvious...
"We still have to follow our weapons policy," said Pam. "They are not allowed to have their firearms at school."
Which can be inconvenient at times..
"Thursday after baseball practice, or track practice, or golf practice, they can't have their gun in the trunk of their car," said Pam.
However, the bottom line is getting the kids try something different.
"You tend to get some other kids involved in this that aren't necessarily in some of the, what you'd say, the more athletic sports, but they are athletes all the same," said Duane.
The teams are split into conferences which are based on the number of members on a team. Which is why Alden-Conger shares their conference with the Lake of the Woods squad.
Other Minnesota teams in our viewing area are Kingsland, Pine Island, Goodhue, and N-R-H-E-G.
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