Archery 2023
Jun 01, 2023

When you think of Wabash Valley College Athletics, baseball, basketball, or softball might come to mind. However, there is another exceptional team that deserves recognition - the WVC Archery program. Celebrating its sixth year, the WVC Archery team has made remarkable strides in a short span of time.

Recently, eight talented archers from WVC participated in the highly competitive USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA, from May 18th to 21st. Over 400 archers competed at this prestigious event, representing 43 colleges and universities. The WVC team, consisting of Clay Dempsey, Jalyn Shoemaker, Sara Harrell, Zeppelyn Fiala, Carter Carpenter, Makenzie Provines, Matthew Steward, and Cade Maschino, showcased their skills on the national stage.

The USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals, often referred to as the "March Madness" of collegiate archery, commenced with equipment inspections, practice sessions, and opening ceremonies on Day 1. Day 2 featured qualification rounds in four different classes: Fixed Pins, Compound, Barebow, and Olympic Recurve. The excitement escalated on Day 3 as archers engaged in head-to-head elimination rounds and three-person team competitions. The tournament concluded on Day 4 with thrilling individual Gold Medal matches and the Gold Medal Mixed Team Match.

WVC's talented archers displayed their prowess throughout the event. In the elimination rounds, five archers reached the Top 16, while three advanced to the Top 8. Jalyn, an exceptional competitor, narrowly missed the semi-finals by just one point but achieved an impressive 6th place overall in her individual class. She (along with Sarah Harrell) secured 2nd place for Female Mixed Pins at Indoor Nationals, 2nd place for of All Around Archer of the Year, and was named to the All-American Team. Matthew, Sara, and Clay also received recognition as members of the All-American Team. This honor is bestowed upon only ten archers per class, considering their exceptional performances at indoor and outdoor national competitions. Clay encountered a challenging start, ranking 17th in the qualifications. However, he exhibited tremendous resilience, surging through the elimination rounds to ultimately claim the Gold Medal on Sunday. This victory served as a fitting conclusion to Clay's collegiate archery career, and he will be transferring to the University of Evansville next year. Furthermore, Clay's outstanding achievements have earned him a spot on the 2023 USAT Team, representing the United States at the highest level of archery competition.

Saturday witnessed intense Men's and Women's team rounds, where WVC excelled. The Women's Fixed Pin Team, comprising Makenzie, Sara, and Jalyn, emerged triumphant against William Carey University, securing the Bronze Medal. Similarly, the Men's Team, consisting of Cade, Matthew, and Clay, narrowly missed the finals but secured 3rd place by defeating Lindsey Wilson College, securing another Bronze Medal for WVC.

On Sunday, the Mixed Team rounds took place, with WVC fielding two teams. Carter Carpenter and Zeppelyn Fiala competed in the Compound Mixed Team but were eliminated in the 1/8th round by a formidable Mount Marty team. Clay and Jalyn, the defending Gold Medal champions from the previous year, put up a fierce fight in the Fixed Pins Mixed Team but fell short in a tough match against the University of Cumberlands. Nevertheless, they maintained their composure, finishing in 3rd place and bringing home another Bronze Medal.

Out of the 43 schools competing at the event, Wabash Valley College secured an impressive 8th place, earning recognition as a force to be reckoned with. Their dedication and skill were further showcased in the overall points standings, where they finished 7th at 3D Nationals and an impressive 5th at Indoor Nationals. These achievements are particularly commendable for a two-year junior college, given the unique nature of collegiate archery that does not follow divisions based on school size or athletic resources. The governing body for the collegiate program, USA Archery, ensures that both large and small schools compete on an equal level. Notably, powerhouses like the University of Cumberlands, boasting 55 archers on their team, and Texas A&M, with 52 team members, have World and Olympic champions on their rosters.

The success of the WVC Archery program is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the coaching staff. Head Coach Earl Lawrence, alongside Assistant Coach Sydney Jones, a former team member and Mixed Team Silver Medalist, has guided the team with unwavering support and strategic guidance. Reflecting on the season, Coach Lawrence expressed his excitement, stating, "This whole season has been an exciting one! I can't emphasize enough how blessed we are to have these incredible individuals representing Wabash Valley College." Assistant Coach Sydney Jones echoed the sentiment, sharing her pride in the team's accomplishments, remarking, "Words can't quite describe how proud I am of this exceptional group."

Acknowledgment is also due to the invaluable contributions of volunteers Jerry Jones and Dillon Thompson, who dedicated countless hours to fine-tuning equipment, resolving shooting issues, and sharing their extensive knowledge of the sport. Their selfless efforts have played a significant role in the team's achievements.

As WVC Archery continues to hit the target with unparalleled skill and determination, their name has become synonymous with excellence in the archery world. The future looks promising for this outstanding team, and they are poised to leave an indelible mark on the sport.