Big shots: First-year Woodbury trap team reaches state tournamentWhen Woodbury freshman Justin Warner reached out to his teacher Gary Kressin for help, he couldn’t say no.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
When Woodbury freshman Justin Warner reached out to his teacher Gary Kressin for help, he couldn’t say no.
Kressin, a technology teacher at Woodbury High School, grabbed the reins of Woodbury’s new trap shooting team this season – and led the Royals to the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League (MSHSCTL) state tournament in year No. 1.
Warner lobbied Woodbury Activities Director Jason Gonnion to get a team started. After talking to Kressin, Gonnion sent Warner his way.
“Justin (Warner) was really interested in it and he said he needed a coach,” Kressin said. “I couldn’t let him down, so I said I’d do it. But, really Justin was the one who got it up and running. I just helped him out.”
Led by Ben Jacobus, the 2012 Conference 2A High Gun Champion, Woodbury finished in second place in Conference 2A and qualified for the state tournament, which was held recently in Alexandria.
“The team did really well this year,” Kressin said. “Now the varsity shooters joined a summer league, too. They really want to increase their skills and win some more trophies next year.”
Kressin said he was pleased with the students’ progression this season.
“They were really coachable kids,” he said. “By no means do I consider myself a great coach. But, the kids listened and progressed throughout the year. It was a fun group to coach.”
Woodbury’s top five shooters went to the state meet this year. A total of 12 students comprised the Woodbury trap team in all. Kressin said next year he expects twice as many, because he believes the students will get the necessary hunter safety certificate prior to next season – something many didn’t do heading into the first year.
“I was pleased with the turnout,” Kressin said. “There were probably twice as many that were interested, but they didn’t have that certificate, which they needed to participate.”
The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League was comprised of 57 teams representing 100 schools and 1,500 students in the 2012 season.
The MSHSCTL first got its start in 2001 at the Plymouth Gun Club. In 2008, the league only had three member teams. Now, it’s nearly 60 strong.
Kressin said he is a hunter, fisher and outdoorsman who has always liked the shooting sports, but has never joined a league or group.
However, he said he would have participated in trap shooting if it were available when he was in high school.
“It wasn’t an option for me when I was in high school,” Kressin said. “That was the main reason I couldn’t let them down. We had a group of students that wanted to take part in a sport that was a little different than the other ones and I could connect with that.”
Kressin said what’s most important to him is that the members of his team feel a sense of belonging – to the program and to the school.
“I want them to feel like they belong to Woodbury High School and earn a letter at their school,” Kressin said. “Five of them were able to earn a letter today and have that sense of belonging to their school.”