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Local students shoot their way to nationals

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SHOOT: Senior Cameron Sesco shoots at paper targets during a S3DA practice at Bass and Bucks. During nationals, participants will shoot 40 foam animal targets.
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GROUP: The S3DA group poses for a picture after an awards ceremony Monday night at Bass and Bucks.The Scholastic 3D Archery program began in Kentucky but has taken off in Indiana.

by ANDREW MACIEJEWSKI - amaciejewski@wabashplaindealer.com

It was a year of firsts for the Bass and Bucks Scholastic 3D Archery (S3DA) team.

The team will shoot at the indoor S3DA 3D National Championships this Thursday and Friday in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the first time in program history. Bass and Bucks had 60 students qualify, but 10 will represent their team, shooting against 700 students from 22 states across the county.

The team is coming off a strong showing at their first state championship competition, with the high school team placing second and the elementary and middle school teams placing third. Kirah Klepper, Kaydence Stevens, Kaden Meredith and Hannah Drudge won state titles.

“Our high school team, we are sending down a strong contingency this year for indoor nationals,” head coach Wayne Welch said.

But this is not the first time that the Bass and Bucks team has competed in a national shooting tournament. Last year, the high school team placed third and the elementary school placed fourth out of 112 teams at the national indoor shooting tournament.

As the Bass and Bucks S3DA team adds more state and national competitions to its schedule, the team continues to grow. The Bass and Bucks crew team had the largest team in the state last year, and this year the team continued that claim, jumping from 50 to 80 participants.

The team consists of third through twelfth grade students from Huntington, Whitley, Koskiosko, Miami, Grant and Wabash counties, with varying skill levels.

“Some of my shooters, when they first came in there, they’d never even touched a bow before, and they’ve soaked up our information we’ve been teaching them like sponges,” Welch said.

The students practice form and technique in practices throughout the week. They shoot at foam 3D targets, hence the name 3D archery, trying to score points by hitting specific areas ranging from zero to 12 points.

Tiebreakers are scored by how many x’s are hit, which are the inner-most ring of what most people would consider a bull’s-eye.

In the team competition, the five highest scores are tallied up to get the overall team score. Welch said he’s had people who’ve shot mediocre throughout the year come back to help the team win a medal at state.

“You never know when that’s gonna be your day when you’re the hot shooter,” he said.

The team gave awards out on Monday night, and Welch said he continues to be impressed by students’ progression.

“Some of the awards I handed out tonight – there were some of them who could hardly hit the paper target,” Welch said. “Now we are competitively scoring by mid-season, and they’ve done amazing jobs on how far they’ve came.”

Last year, two students were offered scholarships to compete on college archery teams, and Union College in Kentucky is planning to meet with the team to build a relationship with the program.

Welch said there are 92 colleges that offer scholarships to students who compete well in state and national archery competitions.

Some students don’t shoot in competition but still learn valuable skills while having fun with local and distant neighbors.

Welch said everyone learns patience, discipline and social skills.

“I played different sports through school and I liked them all but archery’s been my passion for over the past 20 years,” he said. “To see these kids enjoy this sport and just keep at it, that’s why I just want them to keep growing with it.

“It’s a lifelong sport. They can start it now in the third grade and they can do that until – I’m 62 and I’m still doing it – so they can do it their whole life.”

Membership includes free practice on the Bass and Bucks range, a personalized jersey, hat and help from hard working coaches, Welch said.

Other state results include:

For elementary, Kirah Klepper placed first, Rex France placed ninth, Eli Gillespie placed tenth, Lucy Fritz placed fourth, and Isaiah Mobley placed third. For middle school, Kaydence Stevens placed first, Kaden Meredith placed first, Breklon Salyers placed third, and Jim Thrush placed sixth. For high school, Hannah Drudge placed first, Cameron Sesco placed third, Eli Travis placed ninth, Holly Hathaway placed fifth, Makenzee Baker placed tenth, Dylan Hasty placed sixth, James Baker Jr. placed seventh, Noah Biggs placed ninth, Tanner Ballinger placed tenth and Kylie Hathaway placed third.

Members include: Josie Bailey, Bridget Bailey, Josi Barscz, Sydney Bowman, Hannah Drudge, Dustin Eltzroth, Matthew Faust, Caden Glassburn, Madison Houser, Kaleb Kerr, Kaydence Kerr, Kirah Klepper, Kaden Meredith, Rachel Moore, Jacob Richards, Jared Richards, Cameron Sesco, Nevan Sharp, Kaydence Stevens, Eli Travis, Brady Crossman, Bryan Crossman, Bryce Crossman, Tanner Ballinger, Gabriel Tucker, Trevor Wiley, Braxton Witt, Tyler Stephan, Freeman LaCroix, Ben Holbrook, Owen Browning, Phoenix Bruce, Dani Clark, Alan Cooper, Britton Draper, Brenna Bowers, Ally Bailey, Alexyss Baker, Josh Baker, Makenzee Baker, James Baker Jr., Noah Biggs, Liam Carpenter, Rylea DeWalel, Dane Eltzroth, Eli Eltzroth, Raylynn Eltzroth, Rex France, Lucy Fritz, Eli Gillespie, Maddie Gillespie, Aiden Gunnoe, Dylan Hasty, Holly Hathaway, Kylie Hathaway, Jacob Korporal, Elora Laspas, Adison Ricketts Breklon Salyers, Alexis Smith, Brecklan Salyers, Logan Surfus, Elaina Teusch, Hiley Ward, Cindy Wilson, Cole Young, Isaiah Mobley, Gabe Baumgardner, Micah Biggs, Kya Sucharski, Tait Sucharski and Jim Thrush.