Against more than 15,000 archers from across the country, many Wolves and Tigers shined at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Nationals in Louisville, last weekend (May 11-13).
Defending their 2017 state title, Princeton Tigers Archery placed first out of nine Minnesota teams and 46th out 248 national teams at the biggest high school archery tournament in the country. 13 Princeton archers placed in the top-10 percent of their divisions and Milaca added seven more.
“I was very pleased,” Princeton Archery coach Gail Whitcomb said. “We had some really good scores and several people shot their bests.”
One of the students that performed their best on the biggest stage was Princeton eighth-grader Merissa Whitcomb. The first-timer at Nationals led the Tigers with a 290-point showing, placing her 13th out of 2,706 middle school girls shooting in the bullseye format.
“She’s got ice in her veins,” Gail said of her daughter saving her best score for the biggest event.
Merissa Whitcomb was just one of the Tigers handful of first-time shooters at nationals. They had about 14 first-timers in all.
“Over half the team was first-timers,” Gail Whitcomb said.
Eric Oas amd Luke Bordeaux were just two more of the other newcomers to Louisville, shooting scores of 245 and 230 for the middle school team that placed 150th out of 242.
For the Wolves, Ethan Schindeldecker also posted a career-high 290 to place 30th out of 2,991 middle school boys.
“His mental fortitude came in there,” Milaca coach Matt Phillippi said of Ethan’s ability to score highly at event featuring 231 bales in one range alone.
Schindeldecker finished right with tournament veteran Maria Burns. Burns ended with the top score among Rum River competitors in the bullseye format with a 291-point performance, good for 24th out of 2,150 high school girls.
Burns also placed eight at the NASP National IBO 3D Challenge, against 628 other competitors in her division.
Geoffrey Skeim also impressed in the atypical formats. The Tiger took fourth out of 887 middle school boys in the 3D competition and found the podium, with a third-place finish in centershot, beating 319 other competitors in his division.
No local archers earned a piece of the $105,000 in scholarships being rewarded for high placement at NASP Nationals, but students, for the first time, were able to talk to college archery teams scouting athletes and answering questions at info booths.
“It’s the first time they’ve had that at Nationals and I think it shows how much the sport is growing,” Whitcomb said.
Meanwhile Milaca’s growing elementary team held their own, too. They placed 21st out 180 teams in the bullseye format.
Emma Juetten (281), Gabriel Jergens (277) and Cody Phillippi (274) led the Milaca team with top-100 finishes in their divisions with 1,900-plus shooters. Juetten took 17th out of 1,906 elementary school girls.
“We had great support from the families,” Phiilippi said, “Many [competitiors] will continue to shoot over the summer and we’ll back an even stronger team.”
“They all represented Princeton well,” Whitcomb said of her team.
Find the complete results of every Milaca and Princeton shooter that took part in Louisville on UnionandTimes.com.