The J. T. Alton Archery Team is keeping their recent revival of success rolling this year with their first top ten finish at the Region Tournament since 2011, their last Runner-Up finish, and 2010, their last Championship. 8th Grade Lady Trojan Archer Elsie Rector led the team scoring with a 285, shooting her first “50” or perfect round of the year.
Head JTA Archery Coach, Ryan Neuman, now in his 3rd year of the helm of the program since it resumed competing, was very proud of the team’s success and the quick turnaround that the team has made. “Going into the region tournament I had a very good feeling the team was going to do great with this being our 6th tournament of the season and all of our archers working hard at practice...The team is a mix of kids that have been on the team all 3 years and some new this season that have quickly become our best shooters despite being on the team just this year.”
The Alton Archery program experienced a great deal of early success around the turn of the last decade winning three 5th Region Championships back-to-back-to-back from 2008 to 2010, and claiming Runner-Up finishes as bookends in 2007 and 2011.
Rector, now in her third year with the program, participating in all of the seasons since it has resumed competing, said that it feels really good to be a part of the team’s renewed success. “It’s a step by step process, we’re not going to win a region overnight, it takes time, but what we’ve been able to do in these three years is really great. To go from not competing to top ten in the region in three years is nothing short of amazing.”
8th Grade Trojan Archer, Eric Castro, was one of the team members Neuman alluded to, this being his first year on the team, and having a team qualifying score in almost every tournament this season. “It’s great to know, great to be able to say, ‘hey we made a difference, we made an impact’ because it is great what the program as a whole has been able to do in these last three years, and you got to be a part of that. It just goes to show hard work pays off.”
The team as a whole shot their best match of the year with a score of 3117, and are now in a fairly secure position to be bound for the State Tournament for the second year in a row next month. Before that their state ranking was based on a team score of 3055 from a tournament at John Hardin back in January. As a result, they went up in the rankings almost twenty places. The Trojans will be on a short hiatus this month from competing to hone their skills at practice in preparation for what hopes to be their best appearance in the last decade.
Rector added that the team’s success was also derivative of facility improvements and practice time increases. “We go from my 6th Grade year, being stuck somewhere where only ten people could shoot at a time, and those practices were hit or miss, to practicing consistently two time a week where the whole team can shoot at once, that’s going to help. And our coaches have been great too, they’re really good at seeing the little things and fixing them on the spot.”
About Rector, Coach Neuman said that “she led the way and she has started to peak at the right time in the biggest tournament of the season. She shot a 285 and finished 3rd place in middle school girls rankings. She’s talented, we’re going to miss her and a lot of these 8th Graders, North Hardin will be lucky to have them.”
Alton Athletic Director, Richard Rowland, said that “I’m really proud of what this program has done in the last two years. I mean, talk about an amazing turnaround. Coach Neuman and Coach Drake have done an amazing job with these kids, and the kids have responded well. When I took over two years ago, I thought I would dread giving up my Saturdays to go watch archery, but when you see the pride and the dedication these kids take in this sport, it’s overwhelming. I’m looking forward to seeing what this team does in the next four to five years, really even beyond that.”
Neuman concluded by saying that “Being in competition for only 3 years now my goal was to finish in the top 10 and we finished 8th out of 30 teams, with a few more points could have been even higher. Very proud of the entire team...Now we wait until the rankings come out to see if we can make it back to back years qualifying for the state tournament.”
To view full team results, click the link below: