CEDAR FALLS — On a very hot and humid afternoon at the Cedar Falls Gun Club, everyone attending the 2016 Iowa High School SCTP tournament was looking for any type of relief.
The Solon Spartans provided a very good breeze, with sophomore shooter Nicole Breese taking the state title in doubles and handicap action, then going to a shoot-off in singles where she finished second.
Breese began the shoot as the state league champion in all three categories, while her squad finished first in singles, a runner-up finish in handicap, and took a third-place trophy in doubles.
“We are having a very good year this year,” Breese said with a big smile. “Yesterday was hot, but at least we had a breeze. Today we didn’t even get a breeze.”
The temperatures climbed into the 90s, leaving athletes and spectators fighting the heat.
“We had to take extra time between rounds to help cool down,” said Breese. “I did pretty good as I broke my old mark of 87 straight birds by knocking down 90. I was in kind of a slump lately, but this week I kind of peaked again.”
After holding up her first two trophies, Breese was looking forward to a third in the singles.
“I was just trying to focus on myself and help make my team better,” continued Breese. “It was just a long wait between my last shot and finding out if I would be involved in a shoot-off later. The waiting is the worst part.”
When the results were in, Breese was in a deadlock with four other shooters at 194.
There was another shoot-off in men’s action with Evan Ingalls of Algona and two-time state champion Sam Fowler of Maquoketa. Both seniors entered the playoff with near perfect scores of 199.
Fowler was disappointed in his score. He was perfect until the final clay flew through the air.
“After that I just didn’t know what to feel,” Fowler said. “I could not describe the feeling and I figured that one miss would force a shoot-off. I just went to my hotel, slept for three hours then got something to eat.
“I just couldn’t get that last shot out of my head.”
Fowler erased the memory as he and Ingalls both splashed the first 25 birds they saw. To hurry the tie-breaker, both shooters went back from the starting 16 yards to 22 yards for the next 25 tries.
Ingalls missed the first two targets, putting Fowler at ease.
“I relaxed after that and just focused on hitting my targets,” said Fowler. “I wanted to make sure and hit that last target this time however.”
Fowler put the exclamation on his title as he disintegrated his target.
“This shoot is becoming bigger each year and this facility is being pushed to handle all the athletes,” DNR Shooting Sports Coordinator Chris Van Gorp said. “We have such great support here with all the volunteers and the help from ISTA. We put big pressure on them and they come through all the time. They helped bring in over a half million targets to this shoot.
“It was a very hot week for everyone that helped out here, and I think the ice cream vendors made a killing,” added Van Gorp.