4 qualify for nationals following Routt County 4-H State Shoot
Continuing a long tradition of success in 4-H shooting sports, the Routt County team performed well at the state level and qualified four senior participants in five disciplines for nationals.
4-H and Youth Development Extension Agent Tami Eggers said four is the most the team has qualified in her 10 years with the program, previously having seen no more than two competitors qualify.
Leah Halder qualified in the .22 rifle with a ninth-place finish and a fifth-place finish in air rifle, while Teagan Herold qualified in .22 pistol, air rifle and archery, taking first in the state in archery. Dorian Hotchkiss won .22 pistol to qualify, and Jayden Kemry was fifth in shotgun, earning a trip to nationals.
Typically, the state shoot is a massive event in Pueblo or another location, but the 2020 and 2021 state shoots have been “virtual,” meaning teams have a designated day to record state scores, then submit them to be compared to everyone else across the state.
Last year, Hotchkiss qualified for nationals by taking second in .22 pistol. He went to nationals alongside Halder and finished 21st overall this summer. This year, he wanted to be the best in the state.
Using excellent scores in all pistol events: slow, rapid, timed fire and silhouettes, he was the best shooter in Colorado.
“I was excited. I have been shooting pistol for three, four years now,” he said. “That’s been my main focus. I was happy that I reached my goal of being top in the state.”
Unfortunately, he can’t go to nationals for the same discipline twice, so Hotchkiss won’t attend nationals this year. He will turn his attention to rifle and work to qualify again in the future. At state, he placed 17th of 72 individuals in rifle. He hopes to improve on that over the next 12 months.
“We’ve always had a couple of outstanding shooting sports kids, which I think drives the program,” Eggers said. “When you see the Dorian Hotchkisses or the Leah Halders, that motivates the younger kids. That’s what 4-H is all about: mentoring. When you’re looking up to an older 4-H member who’s going to nationals, that inspires you to practice more because you want to do the same.”
Only seniors can qualify for nationals, but there were plenty of junior level shooters that performed well at state, too. Charlie Wiedel and Sawyer Vietanen took first and second in junior shotgun skeet, helping Routt County finish first in the team standings.
Wiedel’s coach is his father, Courtney Wiedel, who got the joy of watching Charlie win from a parent’s and coaches perspective.
“Oh, it was awesome. I loved it. I couldn’t believe it,” Courtney said. “He actually shot better in the completion (qualifying) round then he did in the state virtual tournament. I knew he had it in him, but it was pretty cool to see he had won.”
Every coach for 4-H shooting sports is a volunteer, and many are parents, but not all.
“I always say that 4-H has the best coaches because they are volunteers,” Eggers said. “So, they’re passionate about what they do.”
Mia Cranwell finished third and second in junior .22 rifle hunt and 4P. She also won the junior air rifle utility competition. Myka Cranwell took fourth, and Tirzah Herold earned fourth and fifth in the event, helping the Routt County junior take first of 14 teams.
Full results from the state shoot can be found at Routt.Extension.ColoState.edu/4-h/4-h-forms.
Similarly to the school year, the new 4-H year is just beginning. Anyone interested in signing up for shooting sports or other 4-H projects can contact Eggers at the CSU Routt County Extension Office at 970-879-0825.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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