MILLEDGEVILLE — In the first year of its existence as a recognized sport in the Georgia Independent School Association, John Milledge Academy earned the first-ever state championship in clay shooting earlier this fall.
The Trojans had several sharp shooters on the team, but Wil Goette proved to be the class of the field all season — a season that concluded with him earning a runner-up finish in the state tournament and this week’s athlete of the week honors.
As one of the team’s more experienced shooters, Goette has competed on many different levels and in 11 months climbed the ranks to earn the National Sporting Clay Association’s Master Class.
“I’ve been in the sport for almost three years now,” he said. “My dad gave me my first shotgun — it was a little bitty thing, a 28-guage. I started out with the 4-H shotgun team, but it wasn’t long.
“I joined the Lake Oconee shotgun team and competed with them for two years, but I also started competing by myself. I made it to master class in 11 months, which is really unheard of my dad said. ”
On a roll, Goette won the national championship over the summer and admits afterward, “that’s when I traded my sports car for a new shotgun.”
Having competed on a larger stage, it was a difficult transition competing on a team, but Goette transitioned well coming off of a phenomenal summer.
“For my shooting, it hasn’t really changed it,” he said. “But it’s given me a lot of coaching experience, because I’m more experienced than most in the group. It gave me the chance to help them and see what they’re doing wrong, and how to correct that.”
Wrapping up the season finishing second in the state, shooting 267 out of 300 for all three categories —skeet, trap and sporting clays — the senior tried to think of his teammates first; however, admits to getting nervous at times.
“You’re not nervous for a regular shoot, you’re just shooting naturally,” Goette said. “When it gets to a big competition it’s a little different. I try to go into it with the same mindset, but every time I shoot with the team I always tell myself that I have to go ahead and pull through for them.”
Goette is proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of this unique story — the first JMA season and first GISA season. He believes the Trojans have what it takes to continue building on the foundation he and Hunter Henry have laid this fall.
“It was a real honor for the GISA to start a shooting program for us, and then to also hold a state championship, which was unexpected for them to do that,” Goette said. “It was pretty special because then we had the team together and you just weren’t by yourself, you were with other people. We have me and Hunter Henry and we were the only seniors this year, so next year’s team is looking really good. I think John Milledge has a good chance to continue winning and giving them some more state titles.”
For Goette, the story does not end here. He plans on going to college and majoring in business management, but dreams of one day being an Olympian.
Doing well on the GISA circuit this fall was one step closer to making the dream come true.
“My main goal is to one day shoot in the Olympics,” Goette said. “Competing for the school — it’s just more working to get to that goal by shooting more. It also gets my name out more so more people know who I am.”
Earning a list of honors over the last three years as a clay shooter, Goette is humbled by the support of the community for him to reach his goals.
“It is a real honor actually,” he said. “Because I don’t really think of my shooting being that special to the community and all of that, so I’m really glad to have their support. It’s really just a real honor to be named athlete of the week, because there’s a bunch of good football and basketball players out there, so I’m just honored that they all picked me.”