St. Clair Junior High School student Brandon Whitley bull’s-eyed his way to a first-place finish in his division late last month in the Missouri State National Archery Tournament.
And in the process, the 13-year-old eighth-grader set a state record by scoring 293 out of a possible 300 points and won a new bow.
Schoolmate Sarah Rains earned runner-up honors in the middle school girls division by tallying 270 points.
As a team, SCJHS finished sixth.
Whitley, competing in the boys middle school group, Rains and the Bulldogs all qualified for the national tournament in Louisville, Ky., on May 11-12.
“We are very proud of all the archers,” St. Clair archery coach Ted Koenigsfeld said. “It has been amazing to watch the students grow with their archery skills and see the excitement on their faces when they are successful. Congratulations to the entire archery team for their performance at the state tournament.”
Twenty-three Bulldogs traveled to Warrensburg on Saturday, March 24, to compete in the state event. More than 1,400 archers from schools around the state participated. The tournament, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, took place at the University of Central Missouri campus.
There were elementary, middle school and high school divisions.
The Bulldogs competed against more than 20 teams in the middle school division in earning their sixth-place finish.
“I am very pleased with the time and dedication all the archers have shown,” coach and St. Clair R-XIII School Resource Officer Bruce Wilken said. “This is a group of students who are dedicated to being a team.
“It was amazing to watch Brandon and Sarah reach their personnel best and be rewarded for their accomplishments. I also would like to thank the archery parents, different organizations and the St. Clair district administration for their support.”
In February, the junior high archery team finished second in the Missouri National Archery in Schools Program regional tournament in St. Louis Regional, and Whitley earned top individual honors then as well with a score of 288 out of 300.
Whitley, however, is no stranger to the sport or to having success in it. Last year, he finished fourth overall and third in the middle school ranks at the state tourney. The Bulldogs earned a seventh-place finish a year ago.
Whitley has been an archer since he was 5 years old and uses his skills to hunt for game ranging from rabbits to pigs and rams.
The SCJHS archery club is in its third year of existence. It promotes education, physical education, sportsmanship and friendly competition among its students.
The local junior high school became a National Archery in the Schools Program member in 2006.