Shotgun team repeats second-place Division 3 showing at ACUI National Championships in Texas
Over five days of competition at the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships, from last Tuesday through Saturday at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas, Liberty University’s shotgun team’s 10-man squad shot thousands of rounds of ammunition and repeated its second-place Division 3 showing out of 41 teams, more than twice as many as last spring.
“It was a whole lot larger field,” Flames Head Coach Roger Johnson said. “We fell just short of winning (again, but) we had an amazing week. Eight of our 10 shooters won honors, and we took second-place team podium positions in skeet, double skeet, sporting clays, and super sporting clays. This year, there was a field of over 800 shooters, so that was pretty phenomenal. It was the best-ever performance by the team at nationals.”
He said the Flames had to compete in 25 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph early in the week.
“That was the luck of the draw as teams that shot later in the week benefited from better weather conditions,” Johnson said.
Junior recruit Zack Reaves, who enrolled at Liberty at the start of the spring semester, shot his first 100 straight score in American Skeet and finished second overall as runner-up to Georgia Southern’s Ross Wilson in that event. Junior Carl Pongs placed second for Liberty in that event with a round of 98 and first in the double skeet competition with a 97 total.
Reaves (27th, 552) finished second to junior teammate Austin Applegarth (21st, 556) among Liberty’s top five scorers who contributed to the second-place High Overall Award with their combined scores in the six disciplines, which also included trap and double trap.
Senior Elijah Labrozzi (80th, 535), junior Will Stewart (84th, 534), and senior Justin Johnson (107th, 530) posted the third-, fourth-, and fifth-highest individual overall scores among the 10 Flames.
Complete results are available online.
The Flames’ only previous ACUI event this year was the Upper East Coast Regional Championships, which they won.
“All the other competitions were in preparation for nationals,” Johnson said. “I am very proud of our kids. Not only did they compete well, but they were exemplary as individuals, and acted with good character and as witnesses all-around with the good sportsmanship that they provided. That says a lot about the character of the individuals that the program is developing.”
He said the goal is to move up to Division 2 in the near future, but that may not happen as soon as planned.
“Like many teams, inflation has taken toll on budgets, with travel costs and competition entry fees,” Johnson said. “We’re very fortunate to be awarded a very generous grant from the NRA of almost $11,000 to go toward ammunition for next season.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer