E.A. Sports Today

Munford archers on target

[corner-ad id=2]Elementary, Middle School teams compete in Kentucky for national championship

By East Alabama Sports Today

An exceptional group of young Munford archers hit the road for Kentucky on Wednesday hoping to bring a national championship back to their community.

The archery teams from the Munford Elementary and Middle schools are at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville today preparing for the National Archery in the Schools Program National Tournament.

Munford’s 39 archers – 24 from the elementary school, 15 from the middle school — shoot Thursday, and return Friday to await the complete results. A world-record number of more than 12,000 archers from 42 states and 763 schools are expected to compete over the three days.

“This is a huge accomplishment,” Munford Elementary coach Heather McMorris said. “These kids have disciplined themselves – they practice tirelessly – I guess since November.

“They have really worked hard and had no idea their accomplishment would be so big. When they won the regional I think they realized how good they were, then they had this confidence and started to push each other to be better.”

Although the program has only been in existence formally for two years, under the director of McMorris and Noel Stephens, many of the teams’ archers already had a general idea about the sport, some seemed to have natural ability and those who had been learning “pick up things quickly.”

The Elementary School team’s road to success started by winning the regional at Pell City in February. It advanced to the state tournament in Montgomery in April, where it finished 10th and easily scored enough points to qualify for the trip to Kentucky. In between, the boys and girls swept all the trophies at the second annual Talladega County Invitational at FarmLinks.

“This is a new level and experience for our students, but they were not intimidated and shot well,” Stephens said.

Taylor Darby certainly wasn’t intimidated. She finished first in the girls division in all three tournaments, scoring 257 out of 300 possible points in the county tournament, 267 in the regional and 276 in the state tournament.

The top 12 scores from each team will be used to compile the team score. The top 30 individuals will qualify for the World Championships in July in Nashville. Team officials have high expectations for Darby in Kentucky, as she does for herself.

“I really want to do it, not just for me, but for my school,” she said. “Because it will be the first time in history somebody from Talladega County or anyone from around our school system has won nationals.”

The Munford teams have a vast pool of prospects to draw from, which should keep them competitive in the growing sport in the schools for years to come. The high school is going to start a program next year, McMorris said.

“We try out every fourth and fifth grader and it’s hard to narrow it down because they’re all so enthused about the program,” McMorris said. “With our early success the interest has gone sky high. … The whole community is behind it.”

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