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By Andi Bourne

Local Shooters Ranked Second in the Nation


Lori Thomas

The Hellgate Civilian Junior Shooters with their trophy from Regionals. Back (L-R): Head Coach Trace Weisenburger, Jack Seibly, Ibby Lorentz, Sam Weisenburger, Justin Thomas, Coach Don Warnken. Front (L-R): Libby Diller, Alex Weisenburger, Jonna Warnken and Abby Donald.

LAYTON, UTAH - The Hellgate Civilian Junior Shooters (HCJS) will be bringing two teams to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) three-position (3P) National Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio in June, a first for the state of Montana. Both teams placed in the top 27 teams nationally at the Western Regional Air Rifle 3P Championships in Layton, Utah April 6-8. The team with Seeley Lake's Ibby Lorentz and Justin Thomas, Alex Weisenburger of Florence, Mont. and Jonna Warnken of Superior, Mont. is ranked second in the nation going into the national competition.

The team scores from the Western Regional Championships were combined with scores from the Northeast and Southeast Regional Championships. Of the 54 teams that were invited to shoot in the regional matches across the country, 27 teams move on to the national competition.

Last year was the first time the HCJS sent a team to Nationals. They placed third of the 16 teams in regional championship.

This year the HCJS team ranked second behind Texas Hill Country with team. Both days of competition, HCJS trailed Texas Hill Country by 15 points.

"But we did so well that we also hold the 25th slot with our second team. So we get to take two teams to Nationals which has never been done in the state of Montana," said HCJS Head Coach Trace Weisenburger.

Seeley Lake's Sam Weisenburger, Missoula's Abby Donald and Libby Diller and Jack Seibly of the Frenchtown area were on the second team. Coach Weisenburger said he has the authority to mix up the teams when they get to nationals based on how well the shooters are doing at the time.

Jack was new to the team this year. When Aiden Patko left the team two months ago Coach Weisenburger in a "hail Mary attempt" had him shoot a postal match so he could qualify for Regionals if they needed him.

"No matter how bad he shot, as long as he shot and the other three did okay, we could take him to Regionals," said Weisenburger. "After putting a lot of effort into Jack in the last three months, Jack has now come up to shooting very well and is shooting right next to Libby and Abby."

Sam, Abby and Libby already had individual invites to Nationals. Coach Weisenburger said, "Since Jack shot the way he did, he got himself invited to nationals because the other three kids helped him along. That was really exciting to have him shoot well and make that second team. Now I can go to Nationals with two teams instead of just one."

Individually Ibby was ranked third of the 74 competitors in the Western Regional Championship at the end of the two days. After the finals with the top she ended up in fifth place.

Sam set a new personal record on the first day of the competition shooting a 582 of 600 possible points. Jonna also set a new personal record on day two shooting a 586 of 600 possible points.

"Overall the entire team did very well on both days," said Coach Weisenburger. "For Sam and Jonna to have a personal best at a match like that is huge. It just tells you that the kids do better when they are put under pressure."

Sam, Ibby and Jonna will be going to the NRA Championships in Illinois over Memorial Day. Then all eight HCJS will attend the National competition in June competing with two teams and seven individuals.

Libby's mother Mandy won the Remington 200 Year Commemorative Special Edition Model 700 ADL .270 Win caliber that was raffled off by the HCJS in mid-March. Coach Weisenburger said they are still raising money for Nationals. Any donations are greatly appreciated. Contact Chris Lorentz 677-6803.


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