—Photo by Jedadiah Miller photography/submitted photo Iowa Central sophomore Taylor Nelson (top) competes for the Tritons this past season. Nelson won an individual national title and was part of two team championships. Nelson (below) holds his national trophy.
APR 30, 2019
BY: CHRIS JOHNSON, The Messegner Assistant Sports Editor
Iowa Central's Taylor Nelson wants to be an Olympian.
This week, he'll get to meet the coaches who select the team.
Nelson, a sophomore on the Iowa Central sports shooting team, will participate in a camp in front of the staff who will ultimately decide which competitors represent the United States at the next Olympic Games.
"It will be a camp with both inside classwork and outside practice," Nelson said. "We will work with Olympic coaches, and whoever shoots well during the week, the coaches will ask them to try out for the USA Olympic team."
Nelson, who has been shooting trap since 2011 when he was 13 years old, recently finished a banner sophomore campaign with the Tritons. The 20-year-old had his hand in three national championship events.
Nelson went back-to-back as an individual champ in American Trap Shooting, and was part of Iowa Central's American Trap team title.
"It was a very humbling accomplishment; however, one that would not be possible without the people that have stood with me and are always there for me during the good and the bad times," Nelson said. "It doesn't matter if I am having the best day of my life shooting, or if I'm not shooting very well or if I am down on myself … they are always by my side."
Nelson's love for sports shooting came from his grandfather. His grandpa, who passed away when Nelson was eight years old, started shooting at the Le Mars Sportsman Club in the early-1970s in Le Mars.
According to Nelson, his grandfather was always "a big advocate for kids and people in general to get into the sport." So when Nelson became old enough to get his hunter safety training, he joined his local club: the Loess Hills Youth Sports Shooting squad.
"My grandpa passed away when I was eight years old. He was a great American Singles shooter, and has always been a big role model for me," Nelson said. "Ever since I began shooting, I have strived to make him proud and shoot as best as I can while making the most out of my opportunities in life.
"He might have not been here physically with me, but when I need somebody by my side shooting, I know he is right there helping me push through the shootoffs."
The Logan-Magnolia graduate was also part of the Tritons' team trophy in Super Sporting Clays and Iowa Central's runner-up in the High Over All (HOA) awards at nationals.
""Getting second in the HOA was crazy to think about for me. For a team that is mainly made up of American Single shooters, we came out and shot amazing in all six events," Nelson said. "We didn't take an event off or even a round off.
"We all trained to become the best that we can be. We feed off of each others energy and if somebody was having a bad day, we picked them up and tried to help them save their round our event."
Nelson may have stood out as a strong individual for Iowa Central, but the sophomore was more pleased with the way the entire program performed.
"Winning all of the team awards meant more to me than winning individually. Anybody can win by putting themselves first, but it takes everybody to come together and work as one for the team to be successful," Nelson said. "We became a family this year, and it showed how well we performed at nationals. I consider our team my family, and I know that I am not the only one that thinks that.
"For example, we had a shoot off against Conner State College in Super Sporting Clays, and they are known to be very good in that event. Clinton Manning (my teammate) and I both said together, 'We can work as a team and become one on this shootoff and win or we can lose this as individuals.' We all agreed, and went on to beat Conner State College to become national champions."
With titles in tow and his chance to perform in front of Olympic coaches, Nelson has high goals for himself.
"I have two goals that I have always wanted to complete," Nelson said. "My first goal is (breaking a perfect 500/500 clay targets. My grandpa tried many times to achieve that feat, in order to get into the Olympics during the late 60s, but was never able to achieve it. The highest score he ever got was 498/500. The closest I have ever gotten was 495/500, and that was this past summer at the Grand American meet in Sparta, Ill.
"My second goal is to go shoot for the USA Olympic team. I have a chance to prove myself if I get picked to go to Georgia (Fort Benning) this summer and shoot with the Olympic coaches."