You see, Jeremy Cox just led the AMS archery team to its second consecutive national title Saturday in Louisville. The team is already preparing to make it back-to-back-to-back come next year.
But this year’s title could have been won the night before.
On Friday evening, teams had opportunities to practice where they would be shooting the next day for the coveted crown. Just to get the feel of the arena.
As soon as other teams in the competition finished practice, they were off to the bus, off to eat, off to swim at the motel, off to do whatever.
After Ashville’s team finished practice, Cox gathered all 24 of his archers and made them sit in the bleachers and he talked to them.
“Tomorrow, I want you to focus,” Cox said. “When you go up there to shoot, be sure to take the arrows we brought with us. They have AMS on them.
“Also, when you go to pull the arrows out of the target, be sure you pull them out straight or else you will bend the arrow. Do not allow anyone to pull your arrow out until the points have been added up. If you have a question or you are unsure about something, raise your hand and we will get a judge over there.”
As Cox was giving instructions, he was testing each arrow, by twirling them on his fingers to make sure they were straight. He fielded each question asked by his young students, just as if it were a classroom setting.
Then, after all the questions had been answered, Cox led his team in a word of prayer.
“We are a Christian team and that’s what we want to be known as,” Cox said. “That’s our faith.
“When you coach, you give 100 percent to the kids. That’s what I believe in. To be 100 percent with Christ and be 100 percent with the team.”
After the prayer, it was time to get on the bus and go back to the motel.
While other teams were in the motel swimming pool and some roaming the halls, each Ashville archer had to be in their motel room at 9:45 p.m. and lights out at 10 p.m.
“When you come to a national competition, you come to win, and that’s what we did,” Cox said. “We knew it was ours for the taking. We were the defending national champions and felt like we could do it again.”
AMS finished with a team score of 3378, a new national record. The top five archers for AMS are Jeremy Stewart, 291; Caleb Wise, 287; Tabitha Tucker, 287; Jessica Sybert, 285 and Ryan Whisenhunt, 285.
Each archer shot three rounds from 10 meters and three rounds from 15 meters. A bull’s-eye counts for 10 points. The archer has 5 arrows per round so the highest score for each round is 50. A perfect score is 300.
Eight-grader Jordan Clifton said when he is shooting and pulls the arrow back, there is nothing on his mind but hitting the bull’s-eye.
“I try and clear my mind and focus on the target,” Clifton said. “Most people, when they shoot, close one eye. I have both eyes open and focus on the very tip of the arrow.”
Nikki Moss is a seventh-grade student and her first year to compete as an archer.
“When I let that arrow go, I’m thinking only of hitting that bull’s-eye,” Moss said.