1 of 2
Members of the 2013-2014 Marquette Catholic High School trap shooting team.
2 of 2
Photo by Caleb Motsinger
Eric Ziino, a recent Marquette Catholic High School graduate, shot trap for all four years of high school.
ALTON — Their sport is unlike any other at Marquette Catholic High School.
This team of Explorers packs 12-gauge shotguns at practice. Instead of competing on a court, field or rink, the students on the trap team make their home on the shooting range.
There were nearly 30 people on the team this year, divided into four squads of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen. Under coach Tom Fleming, the “A” team had a nearly undefeated record this season, losing once to the “B” team in mid-May.
“There were only enough people for one squad when I started,” Fleming said. “But we’ve grown a lot over the years and we have more and more kids come out each season.”
Fleming has been the full-time coach since 2012, but he began working with Marquette in 2004 as an assistant to Steve Wilton.
Trap shooting has made its way to other area high schools as well; with Alton High School, Civic Memorial and Southwestern all hosting teams. But trap shooting has been at Marquette for the longest, with the sport’s popularity growing every year.
The difference between trap and other clay pigeon shooting disciplines is that in trap targets are launched from a single “house” or machine, away from the shooter. In skeet shooting, targets are launched from two houses in sideways paths that intersect in front of the shooter.
The Explorers’ “A” team is made up of Luke Drennen, Hank Elik, Eric Ziino, Anthony Serio, Brandon Sweeney, Nathan Bell and Zach Wickenhauser.
“Our future ‘A’ team was the only team to beat us this season,” said Ziino, a May Marquette graduate. “I have no doubt that they will be able to keep up our winning tradition.”
The Explorers “B” team consists of Caleb Gibson, Drew McRoy, Maria Gonzales, Jacob Eggering, John Elik, Connor Dumoulin and Brandon Buhs.
Team “C” consists of Zach Maehn, Rene Sanders, Bridget Jones, Calvin Markavitch, Hannah Hazelwonder and Thomas Fox. Wrapping up the Explorers’ 2013-14 roster on the “D” team is Joe Harter, Becca Bazzell, Daniel Carr, Ryan Wickenhauser, Emily Emken and Kathleen Botterbush.
Ziina, who will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point this fall, was on the trap team for four years at Marquette.
“The people on the team are there because they truly love to shoot,” he said. “This isn’t a sport people do because they have to; it’s one they do because they have a passion for it.”
On June 28, Marquette will host its 11th annual Sporting Clays event to raise funds for scholarships, financial aid and Explorers’ athletics. The event will be the teams’ last get-together, but graduating seniors hope to go out with a boom.
“I plan to keep shooting competitively in college as well,” Ziina said. “I think most people who start shooting with their high school trap team keep it up for a long time after they graduate as well; I think it just goes to show how fun this sport really is.”