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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Highlands Archery Team Reaching New Heights

Several Bluebirds Have Perfect Rounds This Season

Contributed Photo. The Highlands archery team is in its third season.
On a Tuesday afternoon on one end of the fitness center at Highlands High School, one could hear the sound of arrows hitting their targets.

The Highlands Co-ed Archery team is in its third season as a program and is knocking down some doors. That includes several individuals recording perfect scores of 50 in senior Adam Groneck, junior Adam Flotemersh, sophomores Helen Campbell and Madison Opitz. Opitz and twin sister Mackenzie Opitz shot 50s last season.

The team has participated in several tournaments this year. Highlands took fourth out of eight teams in the open tournament at Conner Middle School on November 22 and 23. Individually, Madison Opitz won an open tournament at St. Henry on Dec. 14 shooting a 285.

"I think the biggest challenge for me is if you can see yourself getting 10 after 10, you get more nervous and more adrenaline," Madison Opitz said. "It causes you to shake and kind of forget the basics. You just need to learn to relax. Every shot is individual and don't put them together until the very end."

Teams of between 12 and 20 generally go to the tournaments. Team scores of 3100 qualify for state. Individuals can go to state if the team does not qualify for state. Scores are based on 12 shooters.

"We have finished pretty high in several tournaments," Groneck said. "In the two tournaments I've been in, in the first tournament, we scored one of the highest scores of this academic year. Then in my last tournament (Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference at St. Henry on Dec. 13), I shot my personal best this season, which was a 278. I've been seeing a definite improvement in the team throughout the season so it's been really exciting."

The co-head coaches of the team are Tracy Houston and Matt Stuart. Stuart said the goal for archers is shooting in the 270 and 280 ranges.

"They've come a really long way from out first year to now so we feel we're more competitive with some of the schools who have had programs longer," Houston said. "It's a lot of nuance. It's a lot of head game. There are so many steps and things to remember to do. If you mess up a little bit, everything is off. They've been getting much better at it and they've been helping each other more."

Houston said this marks the first year the team has had team captains. They are juniors Cassandra Erickson and Ethan Stuart. Ethan Stuart won the regional tournament last year shooting a 288.

"We see them in clusters and they assist each other," Houston said. "They've gotten to the point where they can recognize in each other the nuances they need to pay attention to, which is nice to see."

Individuals shoot five arrows per round. They shoot three times from 10 meters and three times from 15 meters. One scores 10 by hitting the yellow target in the middle that Houston describes as the size of a silver dollar. Fewer points are scored the more ring out from the center.

The team has 40 archers this season including six seniors. The junior class started as freshmen in the program two years ago.

Highlands settled into a practice location at the fitness center. The team had previously practiced at the Fort Thomas Armory and the cafeteria at Highlands Middle School.

The current alignment has Highlands in the 6th Region. The coaches listed Simon Kenton as a top team in the region. The Pioneers won the girls state tournament in 2018.

Highlands does not have an elementary or middle school program in archery. Houston pointed out a number of the top shooters at region and state have been shooting since as young as the fourth grade.

The next match for Highlands takes place on Jan. 10 at Ryle. Start time is 6 p.m.

Archery has had a state tournament every year going back to 2018. The tournament split into boys and girls in 2018.

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