By Evan Dennison, The Ledger Independent
Dalton Ritchie -

After winning the Division II ACUI National Championships in 2017, the Midland Warriors shotgun sports team made the move up to Division I this season.

Mason County grad Dalton Ritchie is in his sophomore year with the Warriors shotgun team located out of Fremont, Nebraska and they ended up faring pretty well in the step up in competition, placing third in the 2018 National Championships from March 26-31.

Ritchie, who is used to just shooting trap, has made the transition to compete in all six events at the school: Sporting Clays, Super Sporting Clays, International Skeet, International Trap, American Skeet and American Trap.

“Coming in just shooting American trap, everything else is new to me,” Ritchie said. “I feel like I’ve improved a ton as an overall shooter now.”

Ritchie placed in 84th out of 468 competitors in the overall standings. His highest scores came in the American Trap and Skeet competitions, hitting 97 of 100 targets in each. He tallied an 89 in the international trap, 87 in the international skeet, 84 in the super sporting clays and a 79 in the super sporting clays, all out of 100 targets.

“Early on in the week, I didn’t shoot that well. I got all of the jitterbugs and butterflies out of the way and calmed down. I just kept improving throughout the week,” Ritchie said.

Lindenwood claimed their 15th consecutive national championship with a high overall score of 2,492. Texas A&M finished second with a 2,489 while Midland placed in third with a 2,437.

“Overall, we had a good performance by the athletes,” Coach Bret Erickson said to the Midland Athletics website. “This is the first year of moving up to Division I, and it was a solid showing. We had a couple of bad events, which took us out of the High Over All but tied for first in trap, finished second in skeet and third in super sporting and international trap.”

Moving forward, Ritchie will be looked upon for an even bigger role in his junior and senior seasons as he enters the upperclassmen phase.

The team will graduate eight seniors.

“I feel like more pressure will be on me and they’ll lean on me to post good scores. I really need to try to improve my sporting clays scores. Those make or break us as a team,” Ritchie said. “We dug ourselves in a hole there this year as Lindenwood was up 50 targets after the first two days. It was tough to get back in the game with that.”

Ritchie said he expects to be in the top three to five shooters at the school next season as the National Championships in San Antonio wrapped up the season.

“Hopefully this performance shows the underclassmen what is required to step up next year,” Erickson added.

Making the move from Maysville to Fremont wasn’t the easiest of decisions for Ritchie, but as he hits his final month of his sophomore year of classes, he says it’s a decision he hasn’t regretted.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to travel all around to shoot at these events with my team. I’ve made a lot of friendships, coaches are helping me out as much as I can, I like the school and am glad I made this choice,” Ritchie said.

Once he gets done with school in early May, Ritchie will head back home for the summer and compete in a couple of summer shooting events such as the Ohio State Open, Kentucky State Open and the Grand American Nationals.

Dalton Ritchie Ritchie

By Evan Dennison, The Ledger Independent