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May 22, 2019

Jim Harris

JACKSONVILLE – Going five-deep with balance is the key to winning an Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Regional, and Bentonville West Trap Team 1 had plenty of it in winning the West Senior Regional by four shots Saturday, May 18, at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex.

While West 1 had no perfect shooter and only one, Ryan Thurber, with 49 of 50, the winning squad had no score lower than 43 and bunched three other shooters in the 46-47 range to total 231 out of 250. Spencer Bittle hit 47 targets, Aaron Zachary and Wyatt Zachary both were 46-for-50, and Noah Sost had the 43. Thurber missed his fifth attempt of the day, then reeled off 45 targets in a row.

The Ack Minutemen, led by Bri Sanderson’s perfect 50, took second place at 227, one target in front of Accuracy in Motion Squad 2.

Billy Butler of Green Forest Tigers 1 was the other perfect score for the day, and he and Sanderson join three other seniors in the Champion of Champions shoot-off June 1, immediately following the 64-team head-to-head competition in tournament bracket play to determine the senior state championship team. Teams will shoot 25 shots per five-person team member in each round, with higher score advance. The winning team has to win six matchups. Teams are seeded based on their regional finish.

Others qualifying from the West Regional, in order of finish, and headed to the state round were Alma Youth Trap Club Orange Crush,Green Forest Tigers 1, Lamar Warriors Orange Crush, Bentonville High School Trap Squad 7, Shiloh Christian School Trap Team Jolly Rogers, Providence Academy Patriots C, Booneville Bearcats 1, Dover Schools Clay Hittin Country Boys, Shiloh Christian Black Lions, Danville FFA Trap Derrick and Friends, Accuracy in Motion Squad 1, Cossatot River FFA 1 and Russellville Shooting Team Desperados.

Bentonville West 1 will move into the State Finals as one of four top seeds in the bracket, joining defending state champion Bald Knob Bulldogs Gray (North), Corning Senior Black (East) and White Hall Bulldogs Five Dog Night (South). Corning Black was the top scoring fivesome in regional rounds, totaling 243 out of 250 targets on May 4 and nine targets better than Bald Knob Gray, whose 234 on May 11 was the second-best among the top seeds but the fifth best overall among all qualifying teams, tied with its North rival and regional runner-up (by card-off) Conway Cat Trap 1. Three other teams in Corning Black’s East Regional totaled 235 or better.

Three junior shooters advanced to the Junior Champion of Champions shoot-off, set for May 31. As for the teams, Cossatot Clay Busters 1 took the West Junior Regional by two targets over Shiloh Christian School Black Aces. Accuracy in Motion’s Squad 1 edged Shiloh Christian’s Sea Knights for third place, 103-102.

Cossatot’s juniors had the same type of balanced displayed by Bentonville West in the seniors, with Braylee Jewell’s 23 of 25 leading the team. Quinton Hoobler hit 22 targets, Hunter Hamm and Jacob Mize each connected on 21, and Luke Floyd rounded out the team with 19.

The other West junior qualifiers for the May 31 State Finals are: Berryville Shooting Sports Disgruntled Hedgehogs, Longshots 1, MCDA MinuteMen, Berryville Shooting Sports B’ville Trap Mafia, Russellville Shooting Team Dust Devils, Lamar Warriors Orange Busters, Greenwood Bulldog Blasters, Berryville Shooting Sports Somewhat Reckless, Team 1791 A Squad, Alma Youth Trap Club Twelves and Twenties, Lamar Warriors Clay Busters and Alma Youth Trap Club Quick Shots.

Caroline Epperson of Ozark Youth Shooting Sports 1, Elijah Thorne of the Greenwood Bulldog Blasters and Matthan Neal of MCDA MinuteMen each hit 25 of 25 shots Friday. Nine shooters have qualified for the Junior Champion of Champions, where shooters compete head-to-head until all but one have missed a target, which positions changing after each round and distances increasing after shooters go through the five trap stations.

The finals of both the juniors and seniors will be held at the Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. There is no admission charge. Food and retail vendors will be onsite.