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Lower Richland High School

Sporting Clays continues to grow at Laurence Manning

By Jeff Staser

Staff Writer

Manning – When then seventh grader Jamey Williamson picked up a shotgun and told her father, Mark Williamson, that she wanted to join the Laurence Manning Sporting Clay team, the elder Williamson indulged his daughter considering it a phase that would soon pass. Three years later, Mark is now Coach Williamson and his freshman daughter is part of a growing, successful Swampcat program.

“She had never picked up a shotgun before,” Williamson explained, “but each shooting team of three shooters needs an assistant with them so I volunteered to help out. We just went out there with the idea to have some fun, but the first time out I was hooked. The three Rookie First Year girls finished third in their first shoot.”

The three have never looked back. Jamey, with her 12 gage Beretta, teams with freshman Carrie Rickenbaker and freshman Isabella Harris to comprise one of the nine teams Laurence Manning fields. The team recently finished second in the state championship shoot, finishing only two clays behind the state winners with Williamson missing Highest Overall (HOA) by only four clays. The three, who now shoot at the Junior Varsity First Year level, have placed in every shoot they’ve competed in over the past three years.

The three aren’t the only up and coming shooters Laurence Manning fields, however. In fact, another Junior Varsity First Year team finished second in the state in skeet and trap. Shooting events are split into three competitions; sporting clays, skeet and trap. Each event comprises of 100 targets per shooter with the combined score of the three member teams making up their final score.

Freshman Madelyn Richburg, freshman Riley McDuffie and freshman Kinsey Bjork took second in the skeet and trap and earlier in the year had also finished second in a DNR shoot. Bjork and Richburg fire a 12 gage Beretta while McDuffie’s choice is a 12 gage Franchi.

What makes these finishes more impressive is the level of competition the teams face at state sponsored shoots. All teams are not made the same. While some are actual high school teams like the Swampcat squad, teams also come from 4H groups and other independent teams where coaches can pull from large areas. Over 600 shooters compete in most meets.

Those numbers make obtaining HOA honors for individual shoots a steep mountain to climb, but several Swampcats have been able to capture this title throughout the year. Seventh grader Broughton Lester used his Ruger Red Label for HOA honors at the Rookie First Year competition with a 95 at an Edgefield shoot. That’s 95 out of 100 targets!

Seventh grader Colin Cribb took HOA honors at the same level as well.

Other Rookie First Year shooters include seventh graders Morgan Lowder, Layne Tidwell, Cameron Branham, Reid Jordan and Reese McInnis. The Swampcats filed three eighth graders in Gabe Richburg, Still McIntosh and Cathryn Fowler.

Brandon Rogers, Dylan McLeod and Jacob Mitchell round out a talented group of freshmen, with sophomores Carson Baker, Hunter Thynes and John Burroughs moving into the varsity ranks. The team also fields seven upper classmen in the Advance Varsity level with juniors Jordan Sherbert, Wesley Turner and Aubrey Pack joining seniors Kelsey Williamson, Austin Reeves, Thomas Shumpert and Caleb Richburg.

Sporting Clays require a dedicated group of coaches as well. Each shooting team of three are required to have an assistant coach to shadow them through the courses during competition. With Williamson and Burchell Rickenbacker handling head coaching duties, John Burroughs, Bobby Turner, Kevin Richburg, Robbie Pack, Mikey Cribb, Rick Baker, Harry Roger, Patrick Lester, Ryan Fowler and Jimmy Charles make up the team of Swampcat coaches.

“Coaching is a lot different than coaching baseball or some other sport,” Williamson said. “Really, once the shooters understand how to get a reference point on where they want to shoot, and learn the presentation of the bird, it is all up to them. If they have a consistent anchor point with their gun, they are going to find success.”

Many of the Swampcats are finding success in the sport, and the sport is finding success at the school.

“Its fun and it’s something everyone can do,” the head coach said. “It doesn’t matter how big you are, how fast you are or any of those other things. It’s fun to watch how well these kids perform and to imagine how good they can be. Heck, a lot of them can out-shoot me!”

However, it’s the friendships Williamson sees the shooters make that excite him the most.

“These kids are meeting people from around the state and making friends with other kids they wouldn’t have met otherwise. There’s great camaraderie in the sport,” Williamson explained. “Besides, it’s a lot of fun to see the excitement in a kid’s face who has never picked up a shotgun before when they bust that first clay. That makes it all worth it.”


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