Prep pulse, April 9, 2018

Prep pulse, April 9, 2018

Four points was all that separated the No. 1 archery teams from Champaign Central and Centennial at this year's National Archery in the Schools Programs Illinois state tournament.

The two aren't necessarily rivals, as is often the case in IHSA-sanctioned sports. Prior to this weekend's event, Maroons coach Christine Creek described the two sides' archery interactions as "more of a supportive environment."

But there's no doubt both parties wanted the team trophy Saturday in Springfield. The Chargers were seeking their third in a five-year stretch, while the Maroons were gunning for their first.

And it proved to be Central's time. Behind Leah Fields' 291 total, the Maroons outlasted the Chargers 3,387-3,383 to make program history.

Local squads garnered the top four positions in the high school tournament, with Schlarman (3,350 points) and Armstrong-Potomac (3,336) sliding in close behind Central and Centennial.

Jefferson Middle School eased its way to its sixth consecutive junior-high crown with 3,387 points as well, while Champaign Next Generation tallied 2,858 points to place first in the elementary division.

This was just another chapter in east central Illinois' ongoing dominance within Illinois youth archery.

Last year's individual titlist across all classes was the Maroons' Spencer Weis, who carded a 293 total. On Saturday, he wound up with a solid 289, but found 10 individuals ahead of him.

Among those was Fields, whose total rated third among all girls and fourth across all entries. Chikako Barnes piled up 288 points to finish with Central's third-best score.

Centennial was keyed by a 286 from Cayla Risinger, while Schlarman boasted Jasmine Labayog (291) and Isabelle Peters (290) among the overall top six.

Perhaps the most interesting storyline from this weekend's results, though, was produced by coach Jason Brown's Jefferson squad.

Beth Merrifield tabbed 294 points, finishing behind only Adlai Stevenson's Samantha Hartman-Stackhouse (296). That's right: A middle-schooler posted the second-best score in this entire event.

And it wasn't just Merrifield running up points for Jefferson, which had Kendall Lyell (290) and Katie Tran (290) inside the overall top 10 as well.

Congratulations are certainly in order for all of these athletes, but it's clear the sky is the limit for the success of young archers in The News-Gazette's coverage area.

-