Archery is a seldom referenced sport when it comes to collegiate competition, but it's life for the more than 300 students across the nation who are competing in the 2013 National Collegiate Archery (NCA) Championship on SUU's campus. Though it's hard to miss the formidable line of targets and red-and-white striped awnings lining an otherwise empty grass field, for those who may not have been on the west end of campus, the contest is now underway on the SUU soccer field and will run through Sunday, May 19.
With students hailing from Colombia University, Stanford University, University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, and our very own SUU, the coveted All-American status across seven divisions is up for grabs in a game of millimeters. Such was the case last year for then SUU freshman Qixiong Sun who, ultimately, won the All-American title in the NCA compound division.
Sun, now a sophomore mathematics major at SUU from Qing Dao, China, competed at the NCA Championship last year at James Madison University in Virginia, and said the main reason he chose to come to SUU was to train with Ed Eliason, SUU archery coach and certified international archery instructor.
Now in his second year of collegiate-level competition, Sun is joined by four additional Thunderbird archers competing in this year's national tournament: Brenna Halverson, a junior continuing education major; Chaz George, a senior computer science major; Spencer Edwards, a sophomore accounting major; and Kent Haslem, a junior political science major.
Coach Eliason, who has high hopes for his archers, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see more than one finish in the top of their division. “All of my archers are very ambitious, but they’re also perfectionists and that’s what makes a great archer,” he said.
After the western regional competition last month in Hollywood California, Sun placed second in men’s recurve with a score of 1115 out of 1400, and Haslem placed first in men’s compound with a score of 1134 out of 1400, an impressive accomplishment given this is Haslem’s first year on the archery team.
Haslem, who has been bow hunting with his family in his hometown of Roosevelt, Utah, since he was kid, said his strategy to do well at nationals is to use the wind. “Our whole team has been practicing in this wind all year so we know how to interpret it; a lot of the archers here don’t have that kind of experience.”
According to Daniel Suter, a junior at James Madison University and winner of the male compound division at the world competition in Cordoba, Spain last year, agreed that the wind would play an important factor in this year's competition. Suter also practices in a generally windy climate and said it’s what keeps him ahead of the pack.
“So many people frighten away when the wind picks up, but I just see it as a chance to use it to my advantage and hit targets that others can’t. I am actually hoping the wind will sweep through during the competition.”
The NCA Championships include seven divisions of competition: men’s and women’s compound, men’s and women’s recurve, men’s and women’s bow hunter, and best team all-around. Archers shoot from a distance of 50-meters for recurve and bow hunter and 75-meters for compound. SUU will host the 2013 championships as well as the 2014 championships, following an unprecedented two-year bid the University and Cedar City put together last year.
The 2013 National Collegiate Archery Championship will run through the weekend, and winners will be announced at an awards banquet that evening. With the exception of the Awards Banquet, all events are free to attend and open to the public. Shooting will run from 8-11 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the SUU soccer fields.