Tuesday, June 05, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Team Nitro takes trap shooting title

Leader sports editor

Team Nitro, a trap shooting team made up of high school students from around Lonoke County, won the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program’s state championship Saturday at Remington Gun Club in Lonoke.

The squad beat Greenwood in the final round to earn the state title after beating five other teams earlier in the day.

The team is made up of team captain Scott Foltz of Cabot, Kyler Fancher, Pierce Jackson, James Chambless and Thomas McCallie.

Team Nitro qualified for the state meet by finishing 7th in the east regional a month ago. The top 16 teams from the four regionals qualify for state.

As a No. 7 seed, Lonoke started by facing the Saline County Trappers, the No. 10 seed from the south regional, but also the No. 3 ranked team in the state. Team Nitro hit 119 of a possible 125 targets to beat Saline County and advance to the round of 32.

In the next three rounds, Team Nitro beat Batesville, Huntsville and the Rose Bud Sharpshooters with three consecutive scores of 116.

Those three wins advanced the team to the final four, where they took on the Harrisburg Trap Club Triple AAA squad. Team Nitro hit 118 targets in that match to advance to the finals.

The five Lonoke County shooters hit a day low of 113 targets in the final, but it was good enough for the championship.

Winning earned the team a $7,500 scholarship to be split among team members.

“The mental game is 95 percent of it and when our boys focus, the scores take care of themselves,” team coach Renae Chambless said. “They were confident in themselves but mostly they were very confident in their teammates.”

Each team member shoots at 25 targets in the course of a match and Team Nitro turned in six perfect rounds on Saturday. Foltz and Chambless each scored 25 twice, while Fancher and Jackson also had a perfect round apiece.

Team Nitro will compete in another state shooting meet in June 12 when it takes part in the AIM youth tournament in Lonoke.

AIM, which stands for Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship, is the official youth program under the auspices of the Amateur Trap Association. Renae Chambless is the ATA-AIM zone coordinator over eight states. Her husband Petey Chambless is the ATA-AIM state director.

“We’ve been able to build a large membership of AIM shooters because of the AYSSP program,” Renae Chambless said. “The AYSSP is a fantastic program. This year it had 5,600 kids and 800 volunteer coaches. It’s a phenomenal program for kids in Arkansas.”

A win in the AIM state meet next week could mean a trip to the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta, Ill., for the national tournament.

Team Nitro’s junior high team also qualified for its state meet on Friday.

Though it qualified by finishing 16th in the regional, the Nitro junior squad made it to the round of 16 before being eliminated.

“Qualifying 16th meant we had to face a regional winner right off the bat,” Renae Chambless said. “They were able to win that match and one more so we are also very proud of our junior high team.”

The junior high squad team members are all from Cabot. They include Team captain Gage Wilie, Denver Mullins, John Smith, Tyler Jones and Casey Warren.

There are five other Team Nitro members who couldn’t qualify for state because one member was unable to attend. They are Duke Fancher, Brady Smith and Wade Warren of Cabot, Cody Hazeslip of Jacksonville and Todd Poole of Lonoke. “We really think we all would have done well had we been able to compete,” Chambless said.