7th Annual Elite Shotguns Classic
By Rebecca Myers

Congratulations to Maryland shooter Alessandro Vitale for his “two-peat” as HOA Champion of the 7th Elite Classic!  And THIS year he did it with an “everyone saw it coming soon” score of 400!!  HOA Runner-Up Connor Ball of Massachusetts posted a strong 399.

HOA Champ Alessandro Vitale, RU Connor Ball, 3rd David Ballerini

The 2020 (pandemic version) of the Elite got rolling on Thursday at Loch Raven Skeet and Trap Center at the Loch Raven Reservoir north of Baltimore, Maryland, with 124 Doubles’ shooters in decent weather – despite the threat of thunderstorms all weekend.  New York shooter Dessi Ivanov won the Doubles CH title outright with the only 100 on the grounds.

Doubles Champ Dess Ivanov, RU Sheaffer Stanfill, 3rd Alessandro Vitale

Seven shooters with 99s were called to the field to settle Event RU & Third, and several class and concurrent places.  Two shooters went into the second box for two stations:  Shaeffer Stanfill of Tennessee (RU & Junior CH) and Alessandro Vitale (Third).  It took 15 more shootoffs to decide all places.  Among them were North Carolina Junior’s RU Corrie Cloninger (also Lady CH & B1) and 3rd Texan Lauren Burge (also Lady RU & A3), Lady 3rd (& B2) Georgia’s Alison Boyette.

Clouds greeted the last flight of the 149 12Ga shooters Friday – with occasional bursts of sun.  A brief but heavy shower caught the 1:30 flight towards the end of the third box.  Another heavy downpour delayed shootoffs until 6:30, giving everyone a chance to enjoy a slice or two of pizza with an appropriate beverage (i.e. soda or water for those with shooting still to do). Then the sun came out and the fifteen 100’s shooters went out on Fields 2 & 3.  Four on Field 2 survived the first box.  Staying on Station 4, Georgian Houston Deshotels and North Carolinian Stuart Brown missed early.  Georgia’s Thomas Miles (Event & Junior CH) and New York’s Aaron Benton (RU & TripleSub CH) continued for one more pair then Houston (Event Third & Collegiate CH) and Stuart (AAA1 & SubSenior CH) came back on the field to decide their contest in a single pair. Twenty-two more shootoffs followed with a brief delay for heavy rain towards the end.  But it all got done! Georgia’s Kadie Anderson’s 100 took Lady CH & Junior RU, while three ladies with 99s shot-off for the rest of the Lady titles:  Alison Boyette (RU), Virginia’s Mattison Russell (3rd, and Texan Bailey Glenewinkel (1-1).

12 Gauge Champ Thomas Miles, RU Aaron Benton, 3rd Houston Deshotels

A total of 149 shooters, from more than half of the 50 States attended the Elite Classic this year.  Among them were 14 Junior (only one Sub Junior) and 5 Collegiate shooters in HOA this year.  The Altman Shoot Management Team of Howie, Kate, and Brett did their usual professional job during the shoot.  Howie noted that it was the 30th year he and Kate had managed a shoot in June (with just one missed year) starting with the Great Eastern shoots.  Kate did a great job in confirming attendance with the original 225 shooters to get down to the limit imposed by 7 fields, then reorganizing squads for everyone who could still come.  Howie contracted for additional facilities, including two large, enclosed dining tents and food on a very quick turnaround.

Club members Alessandro Vitale, Jon Myrick, Rich Garre, Paul D’Amato, Paul Shapanus, Bill Fields, and Tom Fowler volunteered their time to remove old machines and assist Rod Shyda (of Shyda’s Services, Inc. of Lebanon, Pennsylvania), as needed, to install new Lincoln Traps and get them prepped for use.  The final target setting was handled by Rod for which he deserves profuse thanks. Club members were instrumental in an extremely quick turnaround time on the new machine installation.  Some of them are current or past club leaders; all of them are dedicated to the sport.  Club member Mark Polek coordinated the installation of additional camper hookups and field lighting maintenance.  The Center staff, Vince Salvi, Dana Hood, and four trap boys, worked tirelessly to keep things clean and organized during the shoot.  As Club Skeet Director, Jon Myrick coordinated activities and put Howie in contact with local caterers and other necessary contacts for services.  All these activities (machine swaps, re-squadding, re-contracting for services) took place in less than a month!

Dan Lewis (Elite Managing Partner) particularly wanted to let everyone know his gratitude to Rod Shyda of Lincoln Traps and the staff and volunteers at Loch Raven for all they did to get the club ready to host a major shoot.  “Rod was incredible – doing the almost impossible in record time.  And the targets are perfect.  You don’t get scores like we have been getting at this shoot, with this background [close up trees] if the targets aren’t good.”  Dan had never been to the Loch Raven club previously and pronounced it a “hidden gem of the East Coast”.

The Elite Competitor bag included an Elite tee shirt and hat and (unique to this shoot) hand sanitizer and a protective mask.  In addition to pizzas on Friday night and a barbeque dinner (ribs, pulled pork, and chicken) Saturday night, daily drawings were held for shooting bags, shirts, Pilla glasses, and other great prizes.  Dan is still working his goal to actively support the skeet shooting community from coast to coast and try to make the shoots FUN.  A tall order in this challenging year.

Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolfe, Chief Referee, scrambled between the cancelation at the Virginia site and revival in Maryland to get “iron man” referees for each of the seven Loch Raven fields, plus some relievers, mainly from Pennsylvania and Virginia.  We cannot compete without them.  Thank you, Tom!

There were seven 100s in the 20ga out of 144 entries. Todd Bender of Georgia prevailed as CH, Alessandro Vitale (RU & SubSubSenior CH), and Ohio’s Fred Tschantz (Third & SubSenior CH & MV CH) Station 4 coming back and it was over.

20 Gauge Champ Todd Bender, RU Alessandro Vitale, 3rd Fred Tschantz

Of other 100s:  Connor Ball took AAA1 & Triple Sub, Connecticutt’s David Ballerini took AAA2, Pennsylvanian Clay Gormish AA1 & Senior CH, and Alex Spiros of Illinois took A1.  Juniors shot off 99s to end:  John Burt CH, John Arnett RU, Thomas Miles 3rd, John McKeel 1-1, and Donald Kitchen 1-2.  Ladies shot off 98s to end:  Alison Boyette CH, Alyssa Gormish RU, and Lauren Burge 3rd.  22 other shootoffs.

Nine of 149 shooters were able to post 100s in the 28 gauge event.   Three went into the second box ending up, after two pair on Station 4, with Louisiana’s Paul Giambrone III CH & Trip Sub CH, Alessandro Vitale RU & SubSubSenior CH, and Sam Armstrong Third & SubSenior CH. 23 additional shootoffs. Mattison Russell was Lady CH with a 99, Lauren Burge RU, and Kadie Anderson 3rd after a shoot-off of 97s with Mary DeFrancesco (1-1).

28 Gauge Champ Paul Giambrone, RU Alessandro Vitale, 3rd Sam Armstrong

The 7th Elite Classic (and 144 shooters) went into the .410 event Sunday with Alessandro Vitale and Connor Ball tied with 300s.  Some shooters got wet – then the fickle sun came out again!  Paul Giambrone III (RU) and Alessandro (CH) were the only two to post 100s in the .410 and their shoot-off was over on the first station.  Three shooters with 99s stepped out and sorted out the remaining places in two stations (it had been a long weekend!).  Results were David Ballerini (Third) Sam Armstrong (AAA1) and Connor Ball (AA1). Junior Champs places were Lauren Burge (CH & LYCH) with a 98, Mattison Russell (RU & LYRU) and Carter Royston (3rd) after a shoot-off of 97s.  Virginia’s Hannah Goddard placed Lady 3rd.

.410 Bore Champ Alessandro Vitale, RU Paul Giambrone, 3rd David Ballerini

The top two HOA finishers got to watch Sunday afternoon as David Ballerini and Paul Giambrone III shot off 398s for HOA Third.  After two stations, David was declared HOA Third and Paul earned AAA1.  See other HOA Class and Concurrent places on the spreadsheet nearby.  Texan Josie Cloninger was SubJunior CH in each of the gun events including HOA.

Ladies HOA Champ Lauren Burge, RU Mattison Russell, 3rd Bailey Glenewinkle


Junior HOA Champ Carter Royston (CH), Lauren Burge (RU), and Mattison Russell (3rd)

Jeffrey Wright had his first 100 in the 28Ga event at the 7th Elite Classic.  The hat shooting party called prior to the start of shoot-offs Saturday was well attended!

All winners’ reports and scores are available at www.myskeet.com.

Click here to see all the shoot photos taken by Loch Raven club member Danielle Murdock. Make a note to add the Elite Shotguns Classic to your schedule next year!

Loch Raven Skeet & Trap Center has a major shoot on the schedule for each of the next 4 months – including hosting the Zone 2 championships in August.  Check out www.mdskeet.org/skeetsch.htm for exact dates and contact information.

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