CEDAR FALLS — Nicole Breese just wants to go out with a bang.
So far, so good for the Solon junior, who won in singles, doubles and team competition at last year’s Iowa State High School Trap Championships.
Going into the late hours Thursday at the Cedar Falls Gun Club, Breese had already defended her crown as a doubles champ and was taking part in a two-round shoot-off with Maquoketa to decide second and third place in team handicap, which Maquoketa eventually won.
“It feels great being a two-time champion in doubles, but it just got here so quickly,” Breese said. “There was no pressure on me at all this year in league shoots, and it was just a lot of fun. But as this day got closer, especially over the past couple days, the pressure seemed to be getting more.”
Breese not only took the state championship trophy in doubles, she was also crowned the league champion with 193 points. Breese dropped 87 targets to claim the state title.
“I would like to think that most of the pressure is off me now with two of three events done,” Breese continued. “But we will see Friday when I have to shoot singles. I don’t want this to be my peak, I would like to think that I am only going to get better. I would like to be an all-around champion and go out with a big bang.”
As Breese looks forward to her senior year of shooting, newcomer Brittyn Walter of Dike-New Hartford is headed for a bright future.
Walter, who will be a freshman next year, finished league play in third place in doubles competition at the intermediate level. At the state shoot, Walter finished sixth, but looks at her third-place league score as something to build on.
“I kind of thought I would make the top five and last night I was told I had taken third overall,” Walter said. “I was hoping I could do better, but I am okay with third.”
Walter finished just one bird shy (130-129) of second place.
“I have only been shooting trap for two years but I have been going turkey hunting longer than that,” said Walter. “My sisters and I like to shoot and with my dad (Bradly) helping coach, it makes it a lot of fun. It is fun for the whole family. I think I can get better and I definitely have not shot my best yet.”
With a new influx of youthful shooters coming into the sport, safety is something that is first to all athletes, which is why Department of Natural Resources officer Marty Eby from Spencer enjoys monitoring this event.
“You look up and down the traps and see so many young kids with weapons, and nobody gets hurt,” said Eby. “It is the one time where I can go to work and not have to worry about wearing a vest. That is the beauty of this thing, you have the best of the best kids here competing and they all respect each other and encourage each other.
“These young kids are the liaisons we need to show that this is the safest sport out there. We will see over 3,500 kids shooting over the next three days and it will all happen with nobody getting hurt. This is a family event as you can tell by looking from east to west and seeing all the campers. Whether the parents are helping to coach or just along to watch their kids shoot, it is always about family.”