In its first year of existence, the AHS archery team won regionals, then won the state championship that qualified them to compete at the national tournament in Louisville, Ky.
Although a national title was what they had practiced so hard for, the team came up a little short and finished fourth in the nation with an overall score of 3,379.
Individually, Stephanie Whisenant finished tied for first in the nation with a score of 296. Last year, she finished second in the nation.
“This feels unbelievable,” Whisenant said. “I was hoping I could do it.”
Basically, that’s all the shy teenager said. She is the type of young lady that lets her shooting do all her talking for her.
After finishing tied for first, Whisenant had the opportunity to shoot for scholarships and won one worth $1,500.
AHS coach Steven Nuss said the team that won the competition did much better than he thought they would.
“We’ll start preparing for next year and see what happens,” Nuss said Saturday. “With this being our first year at the high school level, I thought we did well. When the parents, archers, administration and school board saw how much success the middle school team had in the past, they thought it was time to start a high school program. We really had high expectations at this tournament, but we were off the mark as far as the numbers we got today. We do not have any seniors, so the team we had today should all be back next year.”
Nuss said what makes Whisenant so good is that she is consistent.
“She is always shooting 290 to 295, all the time,” he said. “She is on the money.”
Rebecca Wortham, the mother of archers Zachary and Jacob O’Dell, had complete confidence in the team. “Just like state, I expected them to win,” Wortham said. “They are awesome and God-fearing. I love the fact they did great.”
Emily Wakefield, mother of archer Will Wakefield, said watching her son compete can be nerve-wrecking.
“This is really exciting, but as a mom sitting back behind the curtain, it is more than butterflies in your stomach,” Wakefield said. “These arrows they are shooting, it’s like the arrows are hitting the pit of your stomach. But it is so exciting to know they’ve got what it takes to compete. We have a lot of good kids, and I am so proud.”
Along with Whisenant’s 296, Nathan Owens shot a 294. Other top shooters for the high school team included Dylan Honeycutt and Gabe St. John, who each shot 290; Zac Roberts, 284; Micah Baker, 278; Amanda Cosper, 277; Will Wakefield, 277; Luke Richerzhagen, 276; Corey Thornton, 275; Felicia Williams, 272; and Dana Ivey, 272.
Verrell Wise, who has a grandson, Will Wakefield, on the team, noted that the young team has great potential in the next few years. “There are no seniors, and I think we may be the team to beat over the next three to four years,” Wise said.