Zeroing in on a state title

Ryan Watson of St. Josheph Cathedral School takes aim during Sunday’s invitational competition at Helias Catholic High School. Below, after shooting, Grace Hollaway and Stephen Simmons return their arrows to the proper places.

Ryan Watson of St. Josheph Cathedral School takes aim during Sunday’s invitational competition at Helias Catholic High School. Below, after shooting, Grace Hollaway and Stephen Simmons return their arrows to the proper places.

Before Allie Ashcraft releases her arrow toward its mark, she draws back her bow and takes aim. In her head, she’s singing the traditional Catholic song, “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.”

“It’s just a soothing song. It helps me stay calm,” the Helias sophomore said.

On Sunday, she shot 287 out of a possible 300, earning first place and leading her Helias team to victory at the 15-school invitational tournament hosted by Helias. The event featured 420 archers. A couple weeks ago, she earned top honors at a similar invitational meet in Columbia.

Top among the girl competitors? No, she politely said, out of both. In her age division? No, she shyly corrected, it was out of all the divisions. She was the top shooter, period.

She’s right-handed, but left-eye dominant, so she’s shoots left-handed. And she shoots exceedingly well, though you’d never know because of her modesty.

“I just like that it’s something I can do in my spare time, and I think it’s a good stress reliever,” she said.

After trying archery in a physical education class in eighth grade, she quickly took to it. “Allie’s one of those kids. It just clicked with her right away,” said her coach, Shannon Block.

Likewise, the Helias archery team has clicked in recent years. Team members say that Block, who has been shooting for some 35 years himself, has been able to work closely with his archers on their form, constantly giving them tips to tweak their shot.

The team has improved their collective average from 245 a few years ago to 270 today. Their goal is to shoot a team score of 3,300 out of 3,600 possible. On Sunday, the team scored just shy of that with 3,258.

Now they have Crane High School in their sights for state championships in March. Crane, just south of Springfield, has won state three consecutive years.

“We’re going to give them a run for their money,” said Evan Block, a member of the team and the coach’s son.

He and friend Zacary Hughes, a senior at Helias, plan to switch to traditional bows next turkey season. The lack of sights provide more of a challenge. “It’s more instinctual shooting,” said Hughes, who started shooting a bow as a hunter in fourth grade.

Block, who coaches both Helias and St. Stanislaus, said the sport of archery is “growing by leaps and bounds.” He acknowledged that the movie “The Hunger Games” has helped to spark interest in the past couple years. In the movie, a girl named Katniss Everdean uses her archery expertise to defend herself and save the world from an oppressive government.

Block said he likes that the sport has a level playing field — competitors don’t need to be a certain age or have a certain body type, and they don’t need to be fast, jump high or catch a ball.

“It really builds confidence and self-esteem,” he said. “So much of it is about mental focus.”

Helias archery competition team results (in order of place):

• Elementary — St. Joseph Cathedral, St. Thomas the Apostle; St. Peter Interparish.

• Middle — St. Joseph Cathedral School; Immaculate Conception School; St. Peter Interparish School.

• High — Helias High School; Maries County R-2; Helias High School (B team).

Helias archery competition individual results (in order of place):

• Elementary (female) — Katlyn Buker, St. Joseph Cathedral School; Morgan Luebbering, St. Thomas the Apostle; Natalie Schlup, St. Joseph Cathedral School.

• Elementary (male) — Rett Dobbs, St. Joseph Cathedral School; Lucas Morrison, Dent Phelps R-3 School; Eathan Rackers, St. Thomas the Apostle.

• Middle (female) — Lauren Block, St. Stanislaus; Rachel Schulte, St. Joseph Cathedral School; Emma Morrison, Dent Phelps R-3 School.

• Middle (male) — Coby Ingram, Lee’s Summit West High School; Joe Wilder, St. Peter Interparish School; Seth Pezley, St. Joseph Cathedral School.

• High (female) — Allie Ashcraft, Helias High School; Shelby Winslow, Lee’s Summit West High School; Elizabeth Stewart, Helias High School (tie); Maggie Page, Helias High School (tie).

• High (male) — Zac Hughes, Helias High School; Skylar Price, Maries County R-2; Micheal Cook, Maries County R-2.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting

News Tribune - comments