Owls archers still rising, will compete in state competition


Over the past three years, Seymour High School’s archery team has made a name for itself.

The Owls have climbed the ranks among teams in Indiana and represented the school at every level of competition: from local shoots to world contests.

In the 2017-18 school year, Seymour hasn’t slowed down.

Going into the season, the team had a record turnout.

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“We started out with almost 70 kids,” Seymour head coach Jill Purkhiser said. “By the time we got down to choosing teams, we had lost a few. Shooting at 6:30 a.m. weeds some people out. We actually had to make cuts this year. I cut about 10 kids. It was hard; I would have liked to have kept everybody. Even with the 52, just 48 shoot and four are alternates in case something happens.”

On Saturday, the Owls will travel to the National Archery in the Schools Program’s state competition in Indianapolis at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Last year, Seymour scored 3,271 to place 13th of 29 high schools at state.

This time around, the Owls’ first team enters with the third best qualifying mark in the state, a score of 3,355.

The Owls also will send an additional team to state this season.

“We qualified two teams this year,” Purkhiser said. “It’s phenomenal. In our qualifier, we shot the highest we’ve ever shot as a team. We were about 10 points behind Jennings County. Two years ago, Jennings County was 200 points ahead of us.”

Castle is the favorite going into the state finals.

“I’m not sure we are quite there (winning state) yet, but we’re getting there,” Purkhiser said. “Our theme this year is ‘believe.’ Our theme song is “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. We want them to believe they can do it, because they can.

“(Archery in) Indiana is continuing to grow. In our region alone, we have 19 high schools now. Nine more schools than last year. More schools are getting it.”

While the first flight starts at 7:30 a.m., the Owls’ No. 2 team will take to the range at 2:40 p.m. and the No. 1 squad will compete at 5 p.m.

“There’s a reason why we’re on the last flight,” Purkhiser said. “I want us to stay for the awards ceremony. Even if we don’t place, I want us to be there to see it. I want the kids to get a taste for, ‘hey, that could be us.’

Members of the program aren’t the only students picking up bows.

“The past couple weeks have been incredible … I was able to teach archery in the physical education programs,” Purkhiser said. “We shot with special-ed, team sports and all the P.E. classes. We averaged about 130 kids per day. Some days we got up to 150. It was really cool.”

If they score high enough, the Owls will compete at the NASP Nationals from May 10 to 12 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

At Nationals, in 2017, the Owls finished in 95th place overall — 91 of 248 high schools — including eighth among Indiana schools.

If they have a strong showing at Nationals, the Owls would qualify for Worlds. This year’s Worlds will be at the same location as Nationals but will take place June 7 to 9.

Seymour scored 3,227 to place 40th of 69 full high school teams in their first-ever NASP World Tournament at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, last year.

The Owls will need help to continue competing in the postseason.

On top of its normal fundraising duties, Seymour will be hosting an invitational April 20.

“We need help for entrance fees for nationals and worlds,” Purkhiser said. “We’re working hard, but with two teams all the expenses are doubled. It’s $720 per team to go to state. Nationals and Worlds are both more expensive.”

If interested in helping the archery team, contact Purkhiser at [email protected] or call 502-558-0366 to make a donation.

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