July 7th, 2013

Saint Mary Academy archers fare well at World Tournament

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer


Saint Mary Academy archers fare well at World Tournament
The Saint Mary Academy archery team / photo from Kelley Schleg

John Horlander, a member of the Billy Reed Sports Journalism Academy, assisted with this story.

As an athlete, one's highest priority is to make it to the championship in your sport. For Saint Mary Academy’s elementary (fifth and sixth grade) and middle school (seventh and eighth grades) teams, the championship is the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) World Tournament.

After practicing every week and persevering through the entire season, the Saint Mary Academy Monarchs qualified for the 2013 World Archery Tournament in the elementary and middle school categories. The two teams all shot on Saturday and Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO.

“We had forty kids entered in the World Tournament,” said St. Mary Academy head coach Kelley Schleg, who started the first Catholic school archery program at Our Mother of Good Counsel (since merged with other schools). “We had to qualify through a number of qualifying events. We had two teams qualify at the state level and both went to the national tournament. In order to get to the world tournament, we had to hit a qualifying rank at nationals. Our middle school team made the second qualifying score and our sixth grade team made the first qualifying score.”

In the echo of the dome the official would blow his whistle and the thunk of arrows against the target would then fill the arena as thousands of middle-school students each shot two quivers of five arrows. They first shot from 10 meters away, each student scoring well. Then when they moved back to 15 meters to shoot another two quivers, the true strength of each individual was tested.

With 2,907 archers from 22 states and two Canadian provinces competing at the World Tournament, the Monarchs enjoyed a fair amount of success.

St. Mary Academy’s Patrick Letterle, an eighth grade student, shot in the top 15% of the tournament, adding to his middle school team's 55th place finish and 2,915 score. The other Monarch squad at the tournament, the elementary school team, finished in 27th place in their division and shot an impressive 3,018 total score.

Sixth grade student Rachel Zoeller scored 269 points and finished 32nd in her grade, 53th in her division and 234th overall. Zoeller’s sixth grade teammate Emily Leet finished 43rd in her grade, 68th in her division and 317th overall.

“We had forty kids entered in the World Championships,” said Schleg. “We had to qualify through a number of qualifying events. We had two teams qualify at the state level and both went to the national tournament. In order to get to the world tournament, we had to hit a qualifying rank at nationals. Our middle school team made the second qualifying score and our sixth grade team made the first qualifying score.

“Our sixth grade team shot very, very well,” Schleg continued. “Our gym was unavailable for us to practice due to renovations, so with that limited amount of practice those kids did really well. They performed at a fairly high level. Our 7th/8th grade team scored well, too.”

Schleg emphasized the uniqueness of the sport which allows so many to participate no matter how physically gifted a student may be.

“For so many of these kids it is the only sport in which they participate,” said Schleg. “It’s kind of like swimming in that they achieve on their own merit but the points go to the whole team and the kids love contributing that way. They don’t have to be a fast runner or the quickest on the basketball court. They can compete in this sport and do well no matter their size or physical talents. And this really builds their self-confidence. It gives kids an opportunity to do things they would never have a chance to experience like competing in the world tournament.”

The world tournament was the third largest of the year behind only the Kentucky State tournament (4,250 students) and the 2013 NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) National tournament (9,426 students). 

 

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