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CEDAR FALLS — The first impression for Scholastic Clay Target Program national director Tom Wondrash has been a pleasant one.

For the first time in SCTP history a regional shoot was scheduled to take place in Iowa, and this weekend the ISTA Home Grounds in Cedar Falls was the host.

“We try to find locations with hot teams that would be a good fit for our event,” said Wondrash. “We usually have it in places like Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, so it was good to pick Cedar Falls as a new host. This is a great way to get kids excited about taking part in nationals, and although we were hoping for close to 1,000 entries, it was still a great turnout with the way the weather has been. Everyone seems to have had a great time with smiles all around and this will only get better.”

There were plenty of smiles among the Hawkeye Community College squad. The RedTails sit in first place in all three categories in the collegiate category after the first day.

Hawkeye owns a commanding lead over NIACC in doubles (384-293), singles (456-431) and handicap (384-219). Minnesota-Duluth and Southwest Tech of Wisconsin are back in the shadows of the standings.

“We just came out to compete and to do our best,” RedTails coach Troy Emley said. “We wanted to leave with some awards, as well, and I think we will be doing that. I would like to see a little more consistency with this group, but it is a testament to these kids on the work they put in with the way the day went. They have formed some strong relationships this year and it showed in their work here.”

A friendly battle between teammates Jordan Lentz of Waterloo and Jacob Kaisand of Waverly helped propel the RedTails into the top spot in each event.

Both shooters splashed 97 birds during singles, but Kaisand took the second-place award after a count back, pushing Lentz to third.

Kaisand won the handicap outright (87-82), but fell to Lentz in doubles 84-78.

“I was in a zone for a while after the first 25,” Lentz said. “Then I kind of jerked the gun and he (Kaisand) got me on the reverse run. After the handicap I knew I would do better and I got high in doubles.

“Now we will just see how it all works out teamwise tomorrow. I’ll catch it online or something, because I am going turkey hunting tomorrow.”

“We have been friends a while and we go back-and-forth like this all the time,” Kaisand said. “It’s all in fun, but it does make us better because we push each other all the time.”

For Sydney North, it is more about being with people you get along with and having fun. North is a graduate of Charles City high school and is one of three ladies on the RedTail squad.

“I felt I was in a pretty good rhythm today and just had fun with it,” North said. “You can’t take it too seriously or you won’t have a good time. A loss is a loss and you just have to get better at it.”

Christian Schwickerath of New Hampton sits atop the standings in two categories for NIACC. Schwickerath posted a 99 singles and dropped 88 in handicap.

The day wound down with a flurry shoot that introduced the “Promatic Huntsman,” a clay launching machine that throws from three traps at a time with up to 100 birds catapulting through the air in a 60-second span.

Two-time state champion Jenna Smith from Mount Pleasant found the flurry to be an excellent way to end a day of stressful competition.

“This thing was pretty cool to shoot,” said Smith, who had already shot at 300 targets Saturday. “It was fun to line up against other shooters and just relax and have a blast shooting. It was all good.”

The shoot will conclude today with most finals being decided shortly after noon.

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