Published May 13, 2011, 07:00 AM

Archery opens doors to compete

When Sabrina Schnell and Alisha Moran competed in the national tournament in Kentucky two years ago as eighth-graders, they believed it was the last time they’d ever shoot a bow competitively.

By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram

When Sabrina Schnell and Alisha Moran competed in the national tournament in Kentucky two years ago as eighth-graders, they believed it was the last time they’d ever shoot a bow competitively.

Superior High School did not have an archery club, and they were told, had no plans to begin one.

Now as sophomores at Superior High School, Schnell and Moran are headed back to Louisville, Ky., as the first high school students ever to represent Superior in the 2011 National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Nationals.

“I was so surprised,” Schnell said.

The sophomore said she, Moran and their parents have spent the past four years trying to bring archery to the high school. They even approached the Superior School Board about the benefits of an archery program, but they found no success.

Then, this spring, the two sophomores got some startling news from SHS teacher Pete Conley during their first hour biology class.

He told them to dust off their bows and start practicing.

“Me and Alisha have the same biology class with him, so when he said that I just whipped around and said, ‘Alisha, come over here!’” Schnell said.

Conley’s solution was an inventive one.

He examined the archery program requirements and talked to the NASP state director to verify that schools only need the NASP curriculum embedded in one course — any course — to allow students to compete at the state level. Once Conley received verification, he knew SHS could get its archery club after all.

“That was the one thing we had to do was make sure it ties into the curriculum somewhere,” Conley said. “A lot of people just assumed it had to be Phy. Ed., but we tied it into the science courses for ninth grade, which has a natural fit.”

Students learn the basics of how to correctly shoot a bow but also apply science concepts, measuring things like trajectory and acceleration.

Conley and fellow SHS science teacher Bill Reynolds both underwent training to become certified instructors, and the high school officially began its archery club in April — just in time for the Wisconsin NASP competition.

Moran and Schnell finished first and second at the Wisconsin State NASP Championships in Wisconsin Rapids April 1-2 to qualify for the national event. They will be joined in Kentucky by another SHS archer, senior Billy Benson, and one up-and-coming markswomen from Superior Middle School, sixth-grader Daisy White.

“We actually went to her spaghetti (fundraiser) and introduced ourselves,” Schnell said. “I’m making shirts for me and Alisha for archery, and we’re going to give her one as well.”

The NASP tournament begins today and runs through Saturday. Benson, Schnell and Moran will be the first SHS students to compete nationally, but White is the latest in a long line of SMS students to make the journey to Kentucky.

For years, the middle school has had a successful archery program. All students learn to use a bow as part of the curriculum, and SMS has sent multiple groups to the national tournament.

Individually, Schnell won the state title in her age division all three years she competed at SMS. Moran was never more than a place or two behind, but this year she put a stop to her friend’s winning streak, topping Schnell 284-283 to claim top honors in the state.

“I think that was just luck,” Moran said of her win.

“Agreed,” Schnell quickly responded, drawing laughter from both girls.

Conley believes the girls have the talent to place within the top 10 nationally, but the sophomores aren’t expecting another 1-2 finish. After all, they’ve only recently begun shooting again after a nearly two-year hiatus.

It’s been an even longer wait for Benson. His last opportunity to compete came in 2007 when he was just an eighth-grader. Benson finished second in the state and fifth in the nation among middle school archers that year.

“When you have archers of this caliber, it doesn’t make sense not to let them compete,” Conley said.

Next year, SHS plans to enter the team archery competition as well. Both Moran and Schnell have been approached by classmates about joining the team, and Conley has heard requests too.

“There is already interest in joining the club team,” Conley said. “What the numbers are I don’t know, but I think we’ll be in the teens or maybe up to 20.”

A high school team may have up to 24 participants.

The SHS archery club is expected to begin its season in October or November, with tryouts held for those hoping to compete at the state level.

The archery club also opens opportunities for elite archers like Schnell and Moran. Both are now looking into the possibility of earning archery scholarships for college.

“It’d be nice actually to go and shoot archery in college,” Schnell said. “I never even thought of that, and now it’s an option.”