BUCKHANNON – A local archery team are now state champions, but they’ve already set their sights on a bigger target — nationals.
The Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School’s archery team took first place in the state archery tournament in Huntington on March 30, amassing a total score of 3,281. The win kept their undefeated season season alive, as they are now headed to the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky May 9-11.
Head coach Russ Warner said he wasn’t surprised the B-UMS team won the state tournament.
“They’re not cocky kids,” Warner said. “They’re just very good, they’re very comfortable on the line, they don’t get nervous and they’ve just kept improving.”
The top four teams at the state tournament are invited to the national tournament, but Warner said he would not take his team if they hadn’t placed first.
“I only take my teams to the national if they get first place,” Warner said. “The national tournament is extremely competitive, and to do well in the nationals you have to be extremely accurate.”
Warner said last year, when his elementary division team qualified for their first national tournament, he saw first-hand just how competitive it was.
“We had our first team in the elementary division ever [last year],” Warner said. “They broke the state record in the elementary division — they shot a 3,004. We went on to nationals and shot a 3,091 and we still only got 26th, which was great because there were 240 some teams there, but it just shows how competitive it is.”
Some members of the program also took home top 10 standings in the state. Elijah Bryant from Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School placed fourth in the state for the boys division with a score of 282.
Three Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School girls made the top 10 in the girls division, with Leah Bennett placing sixth in the state with a score of 281, Alyssa Lewis finishing seventh with a score of 280 and Kendall Defibaugh coming in 10th with a score of 276.
Two elementary archers also placed in the top 10 at the state tournament. Reese Curry from Buckhannon Academy placed second in the girls division with a score of 278 and Carly McHenry from Washington District placed fourth with a score of 265.
Approximately 550 students from 64 schools participated in the competition, according to a press release from the WVDNR. Ripley High School won the high school team division, while Bridge/Clendenin Elementary took the top honors in the younger bracket.
The Upshur County Homeschool Archery Association also picked up some top spots.
Jeremy Mcdonald was second in the elementary boys division, with middle schoolers Clay Tenney and Abilene Supers each finishing third in that division’s boys and girls categories, respectively. Rylee Hitt was fifth among high school boys.