by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman archery team placed third in the high school division at the Minnesota South Region National Archery in Schools Program Tournament hosted by Mahtomedi High School on March 18. The top three team scores were very close with Zimmerman scoring 3350 on the back of Princeton’s 3353 and New Prague taking first with 3370 out of a maximum score of 3600. This is Zimmerman’s first top-3 placement as a team in the high division. They previously earned this same spot in the middle division in 2013. A team score consists of the top-12 scores of a 24 max roster with a max of 300 per archer. Three sets at 10 meters and three sets at 15 meters.
Individually, five Zimmerman archers placed in the top of their respective division; Hunter Peterson leading the pack placing third with a 289 and Chris Maki taking fifth with a 287 in High Male. Mya Miller placed fourth in High Female with a 288, Gretchen Andresen took fifth in Middle Female with a 280 and first year archer, Cody Capes, grabbed tenth with a 277 in Middle Male. Peterson, Miller, Andresen, Cassondra Rohrbach & Clay Sandy also scored perfect 50’s at 10 meters during the competition.
Even though the regional competition is not a qualifier to the state tournament, it is the last competition of the season that brings the metro area team’s full rosters together to compete prior to the state competition. Our northwest metro area archery teams are very well represented. Princeton, Milaca and Foley are growing at a rapid pace and have all shared the top-3 placements in the elementary and middle divisions. This is, in most part, thanks to Whitcombs Archery, who hosts many competitions and supports all schools in the NASP.
The Zimmerman Archery Club consists of 50 members of middle and high school students, with 35 that actively compete. We experienced a huge learning curve in coaching this year with Pat Burch, who introduced NASP into the Zimmerman phy-ed curriculum 10 years ago, stepped down as head coach to school liaison. The active coaching staff has continued to work as a team to maintain Burch’s vision of upholding the club and competitive team with the intention of engaging students to become active who otherwise may not consider themselves athletic or competitive. Archery is a very difficult sport to master and demands focus and control mentally, as well as physically.
Zimmerman will be moving on to the Minnesota State NASP Tournament held in Duluth on March 31 and April 1 to compete among roughly 50 schools in elementary, middle and high divisions combining both the North & South Regional area teams of Minnesota in one event. Zimmerman will be representing only one high division team that consists of half middle school and half high school students combined as a varsity team.
They will be going against teams that have rosters three times their size to select their top scoring teams from. Despite that, they are still confident they will be able to place in the top-5 because of the depth of scoring they have had this season.
According to Deanna Ralph, one of the team’s assistant coaches, the archery team has represented Zimmerman in competitions since 2010 and has qualified for the Nationals all but the first year. They have made the trip to nationals in Louisville, Ky. the last five and are on pace to do it once again. In order to qualify for the national tournament, a team must score at least 3,099 at state, a score the Thunder should easily reach.
The Thunder have been led by a solid group of archers all season in competition, recording multiple top-5 placements: Maki, the only senior, with five; Miller with seven; Jacob Pulkrabek with two in high division. Cheradin Ralph, in middle division, led the team with nine.
But those aren’t the only archers who have had success this season in competition. Andresen, Cody Capes, Evan Dewey, Tyler Johnson, Brooke Knapp, Peterson, Noel Spence and Amber Knapp have also recorded a top-5 ranking this year. First year rookies Cody Capes (eighth grade), Carter Haas (sixth grade) and Hunter Dvorak (eighth grade) have really surprised their coaches this year in reaching scores of 270 or more in competition with Samantha Westphal (tenth grade) coming close with a 269.
“The kids just absolutely thrive in this sport and it seriously developed into such an amazing program that every year our kids just keep getting stronger and better, and we really focus on the fundamentals of archery itself. Understanding and loving the sport,” Deanna Ralph said. “The kids do amazing. Their drive and dedication is very impressive.”
A culture of success has been developed in the Zimmerman archery program and they will look to further build on that by earning another trip to nationals.