Whitehall sports round round-up, July 14, 2022

Ostrander a state champ trap shooter

By Keith Harrington

Whitehall’s Sawyer Ostrander recently won the junior varsity state trap shooting championship.

Whitehall has a long and storied sports history. From Major League baseball players to an Olympic bobsled driver, legendary coaches and a recent baseball state crown, the Railroaders have enjoyed a plethora of successes.

A few years ago a new sport joined the Whitehall fold, and that team is already enjoying success at a high level.

The Whitehall trap shooting team competed at the New York State High School Clay Target League State Championships recently, and one shooter for the Railroaders came home as a state champion. The event was held at the Bridgeport Rod and Gun Club in Cicero on June 26, according to coach Keith Redmond.

Sawyer Ostrander defeated a field of 117 shooters to claim the junior varsity division state championship. Ostrander recorded a score of 92 out of 100 to earn the crown.

“He had been struggling all year shooting 18 out of 25,” Redmond said. “We made a gun change and he shot much better.”

Finding the gun that a shooter is comfortable with is vital, according to Redmond.

“You have to find a gun that fits your shoulder well,” Redmond added.

“I was using one of my personal guns, and about halfway through the season my stock started to crack bad on it,” Ostrander said. He (Redmond) let me use his and I started shooting anywhere from 20 out of 25 to 23 out of 25.”

Once he settled in with the proper gun it was then a matter of honing his skills on the range, Ostrander said.

“I had to figure out what gun I was shooting best with,” he said. “Then stay focused on where the birds were going and to predict how much to lead them before pulling the trigger.”

The Railroaders are no strangers to success on the rifle range. The squad has been strong right from its inception. Whitehall has won their conference four out of the last five years and Ostrander is the school’s second state champion. Redmond’s son Matthew won the 2019 state title in the varsity division.

“We had the first high school trap team in the area,” Redmond said. “Now there are 20. It is the safest sport in New York state. There have been no injuries in the five or six years of existence.”

Part of the reason trap shooting has such a stellar safety record is that participants must have CASS certification or a hunter safety course to compete.

The Whitehall program should continue to grow and succeed. This year is the first year that the Board of Education permitted 7th and 8th graders to shoot on the team. Previously the program was for grades 9-12.

“Our school board and community are so supportive,” Redmond said. “The community has been overwhelmingly generous. With donations from the community, we bought seven new Tr-Star 12-gauge shotguns this year.”

New shooters interested in participating in the Whitehall program will have the opportunity this summer. Open trap shoots will be held every Thursday night at the Skenesborough Club.

Redmond also gave credit to George Gedney and Jane Havens who put together an end-of-the-season sectional shoot that helped prepare local shooters for the next level.

“George and Jane have been a huge influence,” Redmond said.

Other Whitehall shooters also competed at the state event. Mason Rollo shot 83 out of 100 to place 97th out of 157 shooters in the varsity division. Kolton Spaulding shot 79 out of 100 to place 125th in the varsity division. Shawn Haines shot 35 out of 100 to finish 71st in novice division.

Ostrander could not be more thrilled about his success and the ability he has gained throughout the season under Redmond’s guidance.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Ostrander said, “to see my progress from the beginning of the season and see how far I have come.”

And most importantly, helping to add yet another sport to an already rich Whitehall sports legacy.