Clarksville, Ark. --- The University of the Ozarks Shooting Sports Team held its own against some of the top competition in the country during the recent Association of College Unions International (ACUI) 44th annual Intercollegiate Clay Targets Tournament.
The 14-member Ozarks shooting team competed against more than 450 shooters from 58 universities across the nation in the tournament, which was held March 27 to April 1 in San Antonio, Texas. It was the third time the University has sent a shooting team to compete in the national event. In 2009, Ozarks became the first shooting team from Arkansas to compete in a national intercollegiate shooting tournament.
The Ozarks team found out after it had arrived at this year’s tournament that it had been moved up from Division III to the more competitive Division II level.
"It was a little bit of a surprise being moved up because we’re still a relatively new program and they moved us up to compete against much larger and more experienced programs," said Mike Qualls, maintenance manager of the physical plant and the head coach of the team. "But our shooters responded and competed well. They represented this University and our program in top-notch fashion."
Competing against such programs as Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M, University of Arizona and University of Florida, the Ozarks team fared well. In five-stand competition, the team of Ethan Rogers, Jordan Gregory, Evan Meagher, Eston Klutts and Colton Qualls finished in 16th place. In sporting clays, the Ozarks team of Klutts, Rogers, Meagher, Gregory and Cass Thompson, took 15th place. In the women’s competition of American trap shooting, Ozarks shooters CharLee Sloan, Kelsey Meek and Amber Zimmer, finished in 19th, 58th and 66th places, respectively.
"There was quite a bit of pressure, shooting against scholarship shooters from other schools and even Olympic-level shooters, but our students shot well under the pressure," Qualls said. "I was very proud of the way we responded to the pressure."
Qualls said that Zimmer, a sophomore from Waldron, Ark., was one of the surprises of the tournament for Ozarks. Zimmer, who became interested in shooting competition while taking a sports shooting class at Ozarks last semester, had never competed in a tournament.
"It seems like every year we have someone come out of nowhere and surprise us and Amber was that person this year," Qualls said. "For a first-year shooter, she really stepped up and performed very well. It was pretty remarkable."
Other members of the Ozarks shooting team who made the trip included Wesley Dunham, Brian Bell, Dylan Hill and Montana Hoing. Mark Nowotny also accompanied the team as a coach.
Members of the Ozarks Shooting Sports Club traveled to San Antonio, Texas to compete in the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) 44th annual Intercollegiate Clay Targets Tournament.