On Monday, a different kind of Union County Tournament took place at East Union.
It didn’t involve basketball or any of the other major sports for that matter. Instead, it was archers from three schools, calmly stepping to the line, exhibiting great focus and concentration, shooting to be the best in the county in archery.
It’s only fitting that East Union held the first county tournament in the sport, given it was a pilot school when the Mississippi High School Activities Association added archery several years ago. Since, West Union and Myrtle have started programs, and the three came together, competing for the county title for the first time.
“We said let’s all get together and call it the county tournament,” East Union coach Trey Humphreys said.
“We’re just trying to build up the sport and build up interest particularly in the county. The kids love it.”
Humphreys, last year’s coach of the year in the state, talked about how much the sport has grown, going from an activity his students participated in to a competitive sport.
The MHSAA has since sanctioned archery as a sport, but the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks plays the largest role, giving grants to each school that starts a program and hosting the state invitational tournament at the end of the season.
“We really hoped the MHSAA would jump on board this year, hosting the state championships, but we’re still under the MDWFP, and they do a great job with the state invitational,” Humphreys said. “If you average a 2,600 during the season, they allow you to compete for a state title, and beginning this year, there are enough teams for each class to name a champion.”
Archery is also the only sport where a state winner can move on to a national tournament. The MDWFP hopes to have a representative from the state travel to Kentucky for nationals each year. Most recently, Saltillo competed against over 500 teams nationwide, finishing 15th overall. North Pontotoc has also competed in this same tournament.
As far as Monday’s tournament, the host team recorded its highest score ever of 3082. Chase Hall was the top boys archer with a score of 278, while Becca Gregory had a personal best score of 266 for the girls.
Myrtle finished in second with an overall score of 2,919 and West Union rounded out the competition with an overall score of 2,687.
The teams will continue to compete throughout the spring season, vying for not only a state championship, but also to make it the next level at the national tournament.