COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Over the weekend (Sept. 22-23), members of the Concordia University shooting sports program rubbed elbows with resident athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and even Caitlin Connor, 2018 ISSF world champion in women’s skeet. The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Western International Championship held in Colorado Springs, Colo., featured 11 Bulldog competitors, including four who came away with top-three finishes required to reach the podium.
This marked the second event this fall for head coach Scott Moniot’s program. It was a fruitful weekend. Senior Erin Lokke won the women’s international skeet competition while junior Monica Dale did the same in women’s international trap.
“The team really jelled,” Moniot said. “Any time you break it down and you have kids shoot the same disciplines, it’s cool to see them encouraging each other. We went with the idea that we had some stuff we needed to work on. Everybody wants to compete and everybody wants to win. We went with a mindset that we needed to discipline ourselves and practice what we need to work on to continue the path of getting better. If we take care of business and perfect the fundamentals, then we’re in a position where we’ll see success happening.”
Lokke and her teammates actually swept the podium in international skeet. Sophomore Emma Van Donselaar (Otley, Iowa) and freshman Sara Schwacher (Waterford, Wis.) took silver and bronze medals, respectively. Another Concordia freshman in Emily Rasmussen of Union Grove, Wis., placed fourth in the event.
Of the 11 shooters who represented the Bulldogs, only Lokke and sophomore Wyatt Eriksen are returners from the 2017-18 team. They were joined in Colorado Springs by three transfers from Simpson College (Iowa), including Dale, and six freshmen. On the men’s side, Colten Uitermarkt (Otley, Iowa) also advanced to the finals of an event.
For a young team, Lokke’s leadership is invaluable. She knocked out a perfect round (25/25) at one point in Colorado Springs and was recognized with a special USA shooting jacket for her third place finish in international skeet at this past spring’s ACUI national championships. Lokke’s performance at the national event earned her a spot on the USA collegiate national team.
“Erin Lokke is the senior leader and the one who’s been at the forefront in leading the team,” Moniot said. “She bounced back from FHSU strong with a great attitude. She was willing to change things at a competition that meant a lot to her. This is where she wants to go. She was willing to work on things there. Second round in the wind out there, she blows out a perfect round. She didn’t miss a target – one of the few all week to run a perfect score on one of the rounds.”
The early returns across the board have been encouraging for Moniot, who was just named the program’s head coach in late June. He says his athletes are responding well to new ways of thinking.
Said Moniot, “Sara Schwacher from Wisconsin stepped up and the light bulb went on. She started putting things together. We tweaked a few things. We did that with all the kids. Every one of them had an unbelievable attitude. As a coach, this is the kind of weekend you dream about. You put in all this hard work and then you see these kids go out there and take care of business. We had a great weekend. We got noticed.”
Coming up this Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 29-30) is the Prairie Circuit Classic Fall Championship, essentially the conference championships. The event will take place in North Platte, Neb.