OLL archery team wins tournament

posted on April 25, 2012

A stiff wind last Saturday did not hamper the archery squad from Our Lady of Lourdes, as they racked up another first place tournament win.

The competition, which included over 80 participants from six schools, was held at Wounded Knee District School. In addition to the team’s first place finish, several individual students placed in the top tier: Third grader Danaye Mills took first place in the fourth grade division; Carrie Twiss took first place and Jevon Hacker placed third in the fifth grade division; Layne Colhoff took second place and Jasmine Derby took third Place in the sixth grade competition; Deion Black Bull took fourth place in the seventh grade competition; and Nuvassie Blacksmith took first place overall, earning 49 out of 50 total points, while Bob Pourier took second overall.

The OLL archery team is coached by the school’s Athletic Director, Wilbur Ferguson. Its roster includes around 25 members, third through eighth grade, with a slightly higher number of girls than boys. The team meets on Monday and Thursday evenings. During practice, according to Ferguson, the kids generally practice shooting from a distance of 10 meters (a little over 30 feet) and then move up to 15 meters (52 feet).

OLL’s archery program was started three years ago. The equipment needed to start the team was provided by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks as part of a statewide initiative. These materials included bows, arrows, targets, accessories, and even tools necessary to perform repairs on the equipment. Since the program’s inception, it has received funding from the 21st Century program, which has allowed it to continue to purchase equipment, and to travel to tournaments.

The squad has had a successful season thus far, winning three out of the four multi-school tournaments that they have participated in. They have also excelled beyond the local level, coming in third place in the statewide archery competition last year. In addition, one of the team members, eighth grader Justin Mesteth, is a nationally ranked archer. He won the individual division of the state tournament last year, scoring 268 out of a possible 300 points.

Coach Ferguson is extremely dedicated to his program, and more especially to his individual students. He wants them to be good archers, and to enjoy the sport, and is always careful not to push them too hard. He says, “It’s such a great feeling to watch the kids shoot well. To see how their eyes light up when they get their arrow into the yellow [bull’s eye] – that’s the best part of all.”