This year, it was especially sweet. Although the archers were in Kentucky, their hearts were back home some 400 miles to the south in a small place called the Shoal Creek Valley.
With all the damage from the April 27 tornado to residents of Shoal Creek Valley, the AMS archers had new shirts made to shoot at nationals. On the back, it said “Shooting for Shoal Creek Valley.”
“That’s the Ashville area, and it’s a community many of us live in,” Ashville Middle School archery coach Jeremy Cox said. “We had archers who had families who lived in that area and had their homes and lives destroyed. It is fitting to have Proverbs 16:3 on the back of the shirt that says, ‘Commit yourself to the Lord and your plans shall succeed.’”
Cox said winning the third consecutive national title is like winning the first one all over again.
“It’s really special, and it’s a different third team,” he said. “Every year, we’ve had new archers on this team. For all the new kids on the team, it is special for them. Seeing their faces light up, it makes it that much more special.”
Hannah Howard was named national champion in the sixth-grade girls division with a score of 290.
Chase Roberts earned third-place honors in the sixth-grade boys division with a score of 287.
Jimmy Williams finished national champion runner-up in the middle school division individual standings with a score of 292.
Lauren Staples finished in fourth place in the girls fifth-grade division.
AMS Principal Phillip Johnson said this is another incredible experience.
“National champs three times in a row is phenomenal,” Johnson said. “We have a great group of kids with a great coach. We have great volunteers. This is what happens when you set your mind on a goal and put Christ first.”
This is Hannah Howard’s first year to be on the Ashville archery team, and she was the only individual national champion. The 290 is the best she has ever shot in competition.
“I am really happy, and being a national champion is awesome,” Howard said. “I’ve been waiting to have the opportunity to be on the middle school squad. I am so excited and can’t wait to come back next year. Hopefully, I’ll shoot better than a 290.”
Cox said it generally does not happen for a first-year archer to win an individual national championship, but Howard accomplished it.
“I’m very proud of her, especially with her being in the sixth-grade,” Cox said.
Ashville High School
After finishing fifth in the nation last year, the Ashville High School archery team moved up one slot and finished fourth in the nation with a score of 3377. Henderson County High School from Kentucky finished first with a score of 3430.
The top high school shooter for Ashville was Jeremy Stewart who shot a 293, good enough for eighth place in the nation.
The top female shooter for the high school was Stephanie Whisenant, who shot a 284.
AHS coach Steven Nuss said it was sort of disappointing they did not have any top shooters this year.
“We have four or five kids who could have been top in the nation,” Nuss said. “We will reload again and try again next year. The kids worked hard.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.