Clarksville, Ark. --- In just its second appearance ever in a national event, the University of the Ozarks Shooting Sports Club made a resounding statement that it belongs among the country's top shooting programs.
The 10-member U of O shooting team competed in the 43rd annual Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Intercollegiate Clay Target Championships on March 30-April 4 in San Antonio, Texas. The Ozarks team took home second-place team trophies in their division in both 5-Stand and Sporting Clays events as well as a third-place finish in American Trap. Among the teams Ozarks competed against in the 24-team Division III were Baylor, Clemson, Harvard, University of Alabama, University of Arizona and Notre Dame.
The Ozarks Shooting Sports team: CharLee Sloan, Colton Qualls, Eston Klutts, Jeremy Provence, Jordan Gregory, Ethan Rogers, Cameron Vesperman, Cass Thompson, Evan Meagher, and Kelsey Meek.
“To go in and compete against the big-name schools that have huge budgets and enrollments and to not only hold our own but to beat a lot of those programs is pretty remarkable,” said Mike Qualls, the club’s advisor and coach. “It’s a great testament to the practice and the work that our team members put into it. They represented our shooting program and our University in a great way.”
The shooting team included, CharLee Sloan, Colton Qualls, Eston Klutts, Jeremy Provence, Jordan Gregory, Ethan Rogers, Cameron Vesperman, Cass Thompson, Evan Meagher, and Kelsey Meek. The coaches were Qualls and Mark Nowotny.
The shooting team was making its second appearance in the national shooting event. Last year, the team competed in the event despite not being formed until March and having just two months of practice.
“It was so much more comfortable this year because we knew what to expect and we had a year to prepare,” said Sloan, a junior business administration major from Fayetteville, Ark. “We definitely weren’t as nervous as were last year.”
Despite having been to the tournament last year, there was still one aspect of the tournament they were not familiar with this year.
“We didn’t know where to go to pick up our trophies,” Qualls said, with a laugh. “Last year we didn’t have to worry about that.”
Rogers, a junior accounting major from Clarksville, was the team’s top individual shooter, finishing in 34th overall and second in Division III in the Sporting Clays category. He said receiving the team trophies was the highlight of the tournament.
“To stand up there and get those trophies for our university and to and know what we accomplished as a team after forming just over a year ago was a great feeling,” Rogers said. “One of the remarkable things is that there are only two of us on the team that had any competitive clay target experience before coming to Ozarks, so that says a lot about how much practice and time everyone put in.”
The shooting team should have everyone returning for next year’s national tournament, and the members can’t wait for a return trip.
“Our expectations are going to be very high next year,” said Sloan. “We’ve proven that we can shoot with the biggest programs in the country and we can’t wait to get back there again.”