Spartans take aim at nationalsIn its first two years, Superior sent individual competitors to the NASP National Tournament. This year, the high school archers will compete as a full team for the first time in school history.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
For an hour every day after school, the cafeteria at Superior High School transforms into an archery range.
Students line up with their bows and take aim at a line of targets about 10 meters away. At the sound of a whistle, they send a stream of arrows sailing toward the blue, red and yellow targets.
Practice continues for an hour, and then the cafeteria morphs back to its usual form.
“We do the teardown, we do the set up; the kids are used to it,” said Pete Conley, one of the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) coordinators for the SHS archery club. “They know what’s expected of them, so after school they’re down here taking stuff apart, and after practice they put it all back together.”
The high school has offered archery as a club activity for three years, and the program has met with quick success.
In its first two years, Superior sent individual competitors to the NASP National Tournament. This year, the high school archers will compete as a full team for the first time in school history.
“It was the first year we attempted to qualify and we did qualify, so we’re pretty happy with that,” Conley said.
The NASP National Tournament runs today and Saturday at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. Superior qualified for the national event by scoring 3,091 points at the Wisconsin NASP State Tournament in April. The qualifying score for high school teams this year was 3,050 points.
Senior Sabrina Schnell and Alisha Moran had the highest individual scores for Superior at the state tournament, scoring 277 and 276, respectively.
“They’re always consistently in the 270s and 280s,” Conley said. The senior girls are the veterans of the team, but Conley said the overall reliability of all the archers enabled Superior to qualify for nationals.
“Every one of the others has been above average,” he said.
The high school club had 18 students participating in archery during the school year. Twelve will be headed to the national tournament in Kentucky this weekend.
Members of the Spartan archery club headed to Kentucky are: seniors Tyler Benson, David Minor, Moran, Schnell and Chase Schorr; juniors Ashley Anderson, Noah Kruger and Dave Oswskey; sophomore Rachael Jaszczak; and freshmen Devin Born, James Minor and Aimee Moran.
Of the students making the trip, only Moran and Schnell have competed in the Kentucky Exposition Center.
Both girls got their start with the Superior Middle School club. They advanced to the national meet for the first time in 2007 when they were sixth-graders. At that first meet, Moran shot a 247 and Schnell shot a 222.
The duo returned to the national tournament for the next two years. Schnell was a three-year state champion at her grade level, while Moran placed second, third and fifth among Wisconsin archers during her time with the middle school club.
SHS did not have an archery club during Schnell’s and Moran’s freshman season, but in their sophomore year they learned the high school was planning to start one.
The SHS archery program began in 2011 when Conley and fellow SHS science teacher Bill Reynolds earned NASP instructor certification and embedded an archery lesson into the freshman science curriculum. Working archery into the curriculum had been a challenge for years, but the science teachers found a place for it in their unit about physics.
“We tied it into Newton’s laws of motion,” Reynolds said.
The club got off the ground just in time for the Wisconsin NASP State Tournament, and both Moran and Schell qualified for the national tournament as individuals in 2011. Moran made the cut again in 2012.
This year, thanks to the generosity of local businesses, the two seniors will be headed to Kentucky with 10 other archers from the Superior club.
“Kids have been responsible for the fundraising,” Conley said. “What we have done is we’ve gone out to local companies and asked for money, and the community has been unbelievable. The generosity that they’ve given us is amazing. They’ve allowed us to have kids go down to this tournament and not pay.”
Moran and Schnell are the only archers making the trip to Kentucky who have competed at nationals before.
Moran said coping with the noise at the tournament is the biggest challenge for new archers.
“It’s loud,” she said. “It sounds like gunshots; it’s crazy.”
Schnell agreed. She compared the atmosphere — and the noise level — to a crowded hockey game.
More than more than 100 archers shoot at one time, and the whistle commands have to be amplified over a speaker system. When shooting begins, Schnell said, the sound of 100 arrows thudding into targets is surprisingly loud.
On top of that, some teams bring cheering sections, bands and mascots to support the archers.
“It’s nuts,” Schnell said. “I remember we walked in the bathroom one year, and as we were walking in a big panther (mascot) was walking out.”
Schnell remembers being terrified as a sixth-grader, but over the years she has learned the secret to coping with the hectic atmosphere.
“You have to have patience,” Schell said. “And you have to have patience with yourself, because you will mess up sometimes.”
NOTES: Following the national tournament, Schnell said she hopes to get her NASP instructor certification and continue working with the SHS team in the future. She also hopes to start an archery club at the College of St. Scholastica, where she will attend college. Moran said she may still compete in tournaments after high school, but her primary use of her archery skills will be for bow hunting. “I’ve gotten one (deer) bow hunting, but it’s hard,” Moran said.