In just their second year as a member of the National Archery in the School Program, the Mabank middle school archery team competed in the national tournament May 12-14 in Kentucky.
The team is under the direction of coach Adam Lewis and assistant coach Andrea DeLong.
The Panthers and Lady Panthers placed eighth at the Texas State NASP tournament, which qualified them for the NASP national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It has been a great year and we are really proud of this group,” Lewis said. “They are fired up and ready for next year as are we.”
Under the guidance of Lewis, the program has made two state appearances and a national appearance.
Lewis said he is proud of the way the students have performed since he was asked to start the archery program.
“Whenever I came to the school a couple of years ago, they had just started the program through NASP,” Lewis said. “They asked me if I would want to run the program. Last year was the first year of the program and we made it to state. We did good at state but did not do good enough to qualify for nationals. This year, we did a little better and worked on some things and got the kids to nationals.”
The Mabank fifth grade students who competed in the tournament were Katie Preston, Riley Jennings, Breydon Lassetter, Trent Donnell, Justin Hanson, Gaven Parker, Gracie Meador, Tanner Forson, Jayden Rogers, Matthew Vinson, Madison Burson, Ashlynn Thompson, Kendall Penland, Mack Brown, Matox Guerra, Shyenne Collinsworth, Nicholas Casares and William Baze.
“I think they had a great time. They were able to see at what level these other states are shooting at and we are at a disadvantage,” Lewis said. “We don’t start until the fifth grade and those states start in kindergarten. We want to find a way to tweak the way we run the program and work on fundamentals. We think if we can get a good group coming up that we can get them back next year.”
DeLong said the program consists of students in fifth and sixth grade, but the fifth grade team is the one that qualified for the national tournament.
“For the national tournament, we took a school Expedition and then the parents volunteered to take the rest of the kids so we could cut down on the cost,” DeLong said. “I was stuck in a car with four boys and coach Lewis and it was an interesting ride for about 24 hours.”
During the tournament, the students use the same type of bow, which is a Matthews Genesis and the same type of arrow.
“The bows go from 12 pounds to 20 pounds of pull,” Lewis said. “That is the same from third through 12th grade. They do check that and make sure all of the equipment is standard.”
They get three rounds from 10 meters and 15 meters to shoot at the target to try and get a perfect score of 300 points.
Parker had the best score with a total of 263 points. Donnell shot a 256, Penland had a 239, Preston had a 238, Casares had a 231, Burson had a 224 and Jennings had a 221.
Forson had a 212, Vinson a 209, Guerra a 206, Rogers a 202, Lassetter had a score of 194, Brown and Baze a 192 and Thompson a 189 final score. Hanson had a 185 and Collinsworth rounded out the scores with a 167.
“When we got there, the flights had 550 kids who shot in each group,” Lewis said. “It was a huge facility and there was 14,000 kids who competed at this tournament. They announced at this tournament that it broke the Guinness Book of World Record for the largest archery tournament in the world. It was really neat and the kids did good with their best scores ever. We ended up not placing but they did really well.”
DeLong said she was proud of the fifth grade team.
She knows the middle school level will be tougher, which is sixth grade to eighth grade next year.
“We have an archery class in sixth grade that will help out a lot,” DeLong said. “The sixth graders who are on the team will be in the class. That is an everyday class like math or reading.”
Lewis said that will help since the fifth grade group had a limited amount of practice during the week.
He said once the students got to the tournament, the nerves started to hit them pretty hard.
“I think they were in shock,” Lewis said. “This was a giant facility with really bright lights and the range was I would guess well over a quarter of a mile long. It was really cool to see.”