LEXINGTON – It did not really matter that Mason County finished at the bottom of the team standings at Thursday’s KHSAA State Archery Championships. The Royals were ecstatic just because they were there.
It was the first time a Mason County team had advanced to the state tournament.
“Last year was a building year and we came in to this year and said let’s see how far we can get,” Mason County coach Bridget White said. “Did we walk in thinking we were contender for a trophy? Not really. (But) we made it there. And that was our goal. Now we’ve set the bar and we are starting to talk about how well we can do once we’re (back) there (next year).”
Senior Sam Blevins echoed that sentiment.
“Regardless of how we did, we were the first Mason County boys’ team in school history to make it (to the state championship) and I was proud of that.”
The Royal contingent finished 22nd with a1884, which was a bit disappointing for White.
“We dropped 46 points from regionals, which was surprising. I thought we’d be right around where we usually shoot or a little higher,” she said. “We only had two (state participants) who returned from last year. Most of our team is very young. Maybe I didn’t get across what the tournament would be like. It was a big crowd and the fans sat really close to the archers and I think that threw them out of their rhythm.”
Mason County had three individuals qualify last year. Two of those returned this season: sophomore Landen Bowling and junior Anthony Ventura. The third member Joshua Brown graduated, but his younger brother eighth-grader Jacob stepped up and took his place.
“Jacob Brown did really well. He’s been setting his sights on what his bother did and he’s closing in on that,” White said. “He’s young, but he stepped up today and didn’t get rattled by the big crowd.”
Bowling, a sophomore, was the Royals’ top finisher a year ago and entered Thursday’s competition as the regional champion.
He finished 55th overall with a score of 286.
“Landon shot last year with his arm bandaged. He called me from Urgent Care the night before last year’s competition,” White said. “He’s a dual athlete (baseball) and he took a line drive to the elbow last year.”
Jacob Brown was second on the team, placing 123rd overall with a 279. Sophomore Elijah Throckmorton finished 201st with a 267, followed by Blevins, the lone senior, with a 266.
“I stayed pretty consistent with what I’ve shot all year,” Blevins said. “More or less I expected to shoot somewhere in the 250 to 270 range. I’m pretty happy with what I did and I pretty much finished where I expected to end up.”
Freshman Bandon Faul was right behind Blevins with a 265. Ventura followed with a 262. Eighth-grader Andrew Jones was 247th at 259 and sophomore Nathan Jones shot a 256 to place 254th.
Four middler schoolers rounded out the 12-member boys’ squad. Eighth-grader Alden Lawson was 264th with a 247. Classmates Brad Kegley and Calvin Denton tied with a 243, but Kegley took 267th because he had eight 10s to Denton’s five. Seventh-grader Jackson Jones finished 272nd with a 226.
Mason County’s entries were not limited to boys. Three girls also qualified. Sophomore Shalee Bess led the group in 145th with a 274. Freshman Deanna Roberts was 177th at 270 and Anastasia Williams placed 252nd with a 257.
“Shalee didn’t waver today. She stayed around her average. She tends to get stressed out easily, but wasn’t bothered today by the big crowd and she stayed on target,” White said. “Shalee and Jacob Brown were the big two who really stood out for me today.”
The season will continue for a few more weeks as the entire Mason County contingent will recored another first and travel to Louisville on May 10th for the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) nationals.