Sportsmanship is obviously a priority for Pine-Strawberry School archery coach Margaret Johnson.
Proof surfaced last week while she was proudly reporting on how well the Buffalo team performed at the National Archery in Schools (NASP) Arizona State Tournament held March 1-2 at Ben Avery Range near Phoenix.
While exalting the five Buff archers who earned the right to advance to the NASP national tournament, she paused long enough to sing the praises of one of her team’s competitors — Robyn Wilson, an eighth-grader at Payson’s Rim Country Middle School.
“She has become a really great archer, practicing daily and with steady increases in the average scores,” the coach said. “She is already scoring higher than the high school girls. It will be exciting to see how well our Rim Country neighbor does at nationals.”
In the state shoot, Wilson dominated the competition, finishing first in the bull’s-eye 10-ring target event and first in 3D.
Meanwhile, Johnson and fellow coach Dean Pederson’s charges were also lighting up the score sheets with sights set on earning invitations, by virtue of top-10 state finishes, to the national shoot to be held April 26-27 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
P-S qualifiers included Desirae Lunsford, Mackenzie Aguon, Taylor Frank, Gabby Aguon and Paige Sadler.
Lunsford, an eighth-grader and first-year archer shot a 266 in the 10-ring target event. At state she qualified for the big show with a 266 to finish seventh (of 72 middle schoolers).
“She comes to every practice and works really hard,” said Johnson. “Her scores are higher at each tournament. We are excited to see how she does at her first trip to nationals.”
Also in the 10-ring target event, eighth-grader Mackenzie Aguon carded a 264 and was eighth. She will be making her fifth trip to nationals.
Taylor Frank, only a fifth-grader, is the Buffalo’s third 10-ring qualifier. At state he shot a 240 and was fifth. “His scores have been steadily increasing and he should do well at nationals,” said Johnson.
In the 3D shoot, which targets are replicas of wild animals, Mackenzie Aguon finished at 270 and was second overall. Sadler took third with a 269 and will be taking her third consecutive trip to nationals.
Gabby Aguon, Mackenzie’s younger sister qualified for her first-ever appearance at the finals with a 261 good enough for ninth place.
Gabby’s older brother, Michael, now at Payson High, was also a national qualifier for the Buffalos.
Gabby, the coach said, “Is a great athlete and should continue to improve as her practice time increases.”
Those who qualify at nationals with top-10 finishes earn the right to compete in the NASP World Tournament July 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.
Only one Payson or Pine-Strawberry archer has ever qualified and competed at the world fray.
Last year, Mackenzie Aguon competed as a seventh-grader in the regular bull’s-eye 10-ring division, finishing with a final tally of 260 that included 13 “10s” or perfect hits.
In the middle school girls division, her final tally was 406th of the 885 qualifiers.