Region tournament? Check.
State tournament? Check.
National tournament? Check.
The Mason County archery team has competed in all three of those events so far this season, and on Friday they’ll be shooting in the 2018 National Archery in the Schools Program World Tournament at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
“Our goal is really just to go in and post personal bests at this tournament to kind of top off their year,” said Mason County archery coach Bridget White. “The high school team has been consistently good. As long as everybody just shoots good, I think we’ll place decently. For them to be able to go and to be invited, that’s success for this team this year.”
The tournament is scheduled to begin Thursday, but the Royals are not scheduled to shoot until 10:15 a.m. on Friday, while the middle school team is scheduled to shoot at 9 a.m. In NASP tournaments, only grades 9-12 are permitted to shoot in the high school division, unlike in KHSAA tournaments. In NASP tournaments, the scores of the top four male, top four female and the next four best shooters are taken, regardless of gender.
The fourteen archers registered with the high school team are Tanner Applegate, Danielle Nicole Baker, Shalee Bess, Samuel Blevins, Landen Bowling, Brandon Faul, Taylor Grigson, Jake Hardeman, Nathan Jones, Melissa Maurer, Deanna Roberts, Elijah Throckmorton, Anthony Ventura and Anastasia Williams.
Mason County qualified for the world tournament by shooting a 3,177 at the NASP Eastern Nationals, which also took place in Louisville, May 10-12. They needed to shoot a 3,150 to qualify, according to White.
The team’s best score came at the NASP State Tournament at the end of March, where they fired a 3,197. They posted a 3,117 at the NASP Region 8 Tournament in February at St. Henry Athletic Complex in Florence.
“We shot in same venue twice this year. It’s like we’re just going back to where we’ve already been. It’s kind of like a normal tournament at this point,” said White. “I don’t think they’ll be nervous at all.
“It’ll just take some people getting back to shooting their best. We had some issues at nationals with bows on the line that had to be fixed on the line. That threw some people’s aim off. Just weird things happening. We dropped a little, but not really bad,” added White. “If we get three more points and top 3,200 for first time, I’d get really excited.”
While nerves may not be a factor, the early start might. Mason County plans on leaving for Louisville at 5:30 a.m. on Friday.
“It is a little bit of a concern right now. When went to state we left earlier. We left at 5 that morning, but we pulled it out and did really well,” said White. “I hope the summer mode doesn’t affect us too much. It’s early for a lot of people.”
The top archer from Mason County in each of those tournaments has been Bowling. The sophomore shot a 292 out of 300 possible points at the regional tournament, where the Royals placed 16th out of 27 teams. Bowling shot a 287 at the NASP State Tournament and Mason County placed 76th out of 106 teams. At the Eastern Nationals, he shot a 283 and the team finished 190th of 237 teams.
Based on recent practice results, White believes some of Bowling’s teammates could be close behind. Three that have really stood out include Shalee Bess, Anthony Ventura and DeAnna Roberts. Bess posted a 282 at the national tournament, while Ventura was just two points behind her. Roberts posted a 264 the last time in the Kentucky Exposition Center for the national tournament, but nearly cracked 280 the time before, posting a 278 at the NASP State Tournament.
“It’s just their tenacity with treating every practice as if they’re getting ready for a tournament,” said White. “They don’t let off. They’re always trying to find something they can improve on.”
The individual improvements have led to several team milestones in just over the last year.
Mason County sent their first individuals to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Tournament last spring, hosted the school’s first-ever tournament and sent their first team to a KHSAA State Tournament this spring, after the boys’ team finished first at the KHSAA Region 7 Tournament at Harrison County. Bowling was the individual boys’ champion, firing a 291, which included 22 10s.
The next step, White says, is continuing to improve with the hopes of winning local tournaments and moving up the ranks at the national and world level.
“The team has worked really hard and I’m proud of them,” said White. “I’m super excited we’ve made it this far and I hope to continue this success.”