Archery program keeps seeing growth

Volunteers help make the sport go. Coaches donate their time, and many outdoor groups in the area help to fund these local teams.

Three mornings a week, 27 students gather for an hour in one of the smaller gyms at Alexandria Area High School to line up and take aim at a row of targets.

Archery at AAHS is only four years old, but it's nearly tripled in participation since its advent.

"We've gotten bigger every year," Alexandria head coach Al Hansen said. "We've got a small group we call the I-94 group. Melrose, Sauk Centre, Osakis, Alex and Brandon-Evansville. We've kind of been working together for a number of years, but this NASP (National Archery in Schools Program) is growing so fast we can hardly keep up with it."

On March 3, the Cardinals hosted an invitational with five teams competing at the high school level and 10 teams total participating across middle school and elementary school levels.

The Foley Falcons took first place at the high school level with a team score of 3,262. The Cardinals fell behind in second by just one point. Sauk Centre took third with 3,189 points, Hawley took fourth with 3,118 and Osakis took fifth with 3,078.

Evansville took fourth place in the middle school division with 2,474 points. Freshman Mikenna Pattrin took 13th out of 45 girls with 267 points and 12 tens. Archers' scores are out of a possible 300. Freshman Xavier Grussing scored 256 with nine tens followed by eighth-grader Riley Bitzan with a 255 and two tens.

Sophomore Domanik Hines took the highest score for Alexandria in the high school division with 288 points and 18 tens. He finished second out of 53 boys in the field. Junior Miranda Danielson and senior Riley Nieland tied with 278 points and 15 tens each. Danielson took fourth out of 45 girls and Nieland finished seventh for boys.

Senior Joe Brezina took 10th place with a score of 272 and 11 tens, followed by senior Brandon Kamphake in 12th place with a score of 272 and nine tens.

Senior Ethan Scribner has seen the sports' transformation since he joined the brand-new program as a freshman. Scribner finished 15th during the Alexandria invitational with a score 269 with seven tens.

"It's grown so much," Scribner said. "There's a lot of competition between the top-shooters in our school. They're all trying to outdo each other. It's fun. It's very competitive."

Junior Sydney Ellis joined last year and says she has seen the sport grow in visibility within the school. Ellis took 12th on March 3rd, with 268 points and nine tens.

"A few friends and I thought it was just something different to do in the winter," Ellis said. "I didn't really know about it until last year and I joined but nobody else knew about it. Now they are kind of getting familiar with it."

Volunteers help make the sport go. Coaches donate their time, and many outdoor groups in the area help to fund these local teams. The student-athletes compete in regular-season shoots before a state tournament at the end of the season.

Some students join for a fun activity to do in the long winter months. Some join to improve their bow hunting. For others, having a school archery program extends their shooting season to a full-year sport after competing in trap shooting in the fall and spring.

"One thing that I like about this sport is it levels the playing field," Scribner said. "Everyone shoots the same bow, everyone is shooting the same arrow the same distance. In trap shooting, the more money you have the better gun you can get which in turn gives you an advantage."

Regardless of what brought them to the archery team, everyone seems to agree that this is a sport for everyone.

"A lot of kids that aren't in other sports, they can do this sport. It's not just limited to people with certain physical abilities," Hansen said. "A lot of sports you can only do in high school. You graduate and that's the last time you do it. These sports, we've enjoyed them for many, many years and there are guys older than me that are still enjoying it. This is a lifetime sport."

By Emily Myrin

Source, image, credits & more information: EchoPress