As the world buzzes about the upcoming London Olympics, middle school and high school archers competed in the Olympic Archery in the Schools (OAS) California State Championships in Glendale, Calif., showcasing what might be the next wave of Olympic medalist archers.

Hosted by Glendale High School, this is the first time an OAS event has been held at a school. “The [football] stadium made for an awesome venue,” Keaton Chia, the program supervisor for OAS, said. “The Glendale archers were a great host team, and we can’t thank Coach [Steve] Holmoe enough for his help in making the event happen.”

High School Ranking Round

HS Boys Awards

Any notion of a “home field advantage” was dispelled when the championship started with a 36-arrow ranking round. On the boy’s side, Stefan George, one of the newcomers from visiting John Muir High School, shot 17 “10s” and accumulated 336 of a possible 360 points. Glendale’s Matthew Yancheff finished second with a score of 325, barely eclipsing third-place finisher Michael Burtless’s (John Muir) score of 323. Practicing every day leading up to the competition proved to be the difference maker, according to George.

Glendale’s Dalar Karimian led all high school girls with a score of 296, followed by Maureen Smith’s (John Muir) score of 282. North Hollywood High School archer Veronica Kim shot a 275 to secure third place.

HS Girls Awards

Karimian, a sophomore said she credits her coach and a scrimmage at the Easton Van Nuys Archery Center for her performance. “The first event I ever attended was earlier this year at the Van Nuys Archery Center,” Karimian said. “It was awesome, I did better than I thought there, and it gave me an idea of what to expect at this event. I didn’t have a great practice, but Coach Holmoe really motivated us. I think our team was more confident and had more spirit. He said, ‘Don’t worry about anything, you’ll do fine, have fun and do your best.’ And that really helped me relax.”

Middle School Ranking Round

Sequoia and Almeria Middle Schools faced off in the Middle School 36-arrow ranking round. Participating in the OAS program for a few years and watching it evolve; the two schools are no strangers to each other. This is the first time they were able to compete next to high school archers.

Middle School Boys

When asked if there was a bit of a rivalry between Sequoia and Almeria, Alfonso Farious of Sequoia said, “There is a friendly rivalry, but when you are shooting against so many people, you don’t really think about it…you just shoot.”

And shoot he did. Farious claimed the top rank with a score of 345, followed by Angel Hong (Almeria, 339) and Nathan Hernandez (Almeria, 329). Experienced Almeria archer, Julie Perez, would earn the top rank on the girl’s side, totaling a score of 305. At her heels were teammate Jeeny Hsueh (302) and Sequoia’s Georgina Mora (288).

Team Matches

Middle School Girls

With the rankings determined for Olympic round to be held later in the day, each school submitted one team comprised of three archers to compete in the team matches. Sequoia, behind the shooting of Alfonso Farias, Jon Peredes and Oswaldo Trejo, won the match against Almeria, 225 to 215 to claim the middle school team gold.

John Muir had a bye in semifinals of the high school team match and met Glendale – who defeated North Hollywood 213 – 151 in the semifinals – in the finals. Both teams started strong, but by the last end, John Muir pulled ahead and won the match 214 to 194.

“I’d say the reason we did so well is the amount of time that we practiced, and the commitment we put into it,” George said. “The four of us usually practice for 30 minutes before school, and for 30 minutes during lunch. We also try to find time during the weekends to go down to a local archery range and practice.”

Olympic Round

After lunch and a demonstration from CSUN collegiate team archer, Coach Raymond, who shot a balloon at 70 meters with his competition recurve bow, the competitors were ready to resume shooting in the Olympic round.

From the rankings in the morning, each archer was seeded in a single elimination bracket for head-to-head matches. The Boy’s Middle school bracket featured 11 archers, and the final was another showdown between Almeria and Sequoia.

Sequoias Oswaldo Trejo met Almeria’s Nathan Hernandez, and the archers raced neck and neck to the gold medal. In the first end, both archers shot a 29. Trejo gained a point in the second end, shooting a perfect 30 while Hernandez notched a 29. Both archers shot flawless in the third end, posting 30’s, and in the final end they matched scores of 29. Trejo’s one point lead earned in the second end held up for the victory.

This was Trejo’s first individual gold. “With the scores so close I really tried to stay relaxed and keep a mental edge,” Trejo said. “I was just relieved that I won.”

Sequoia also won the gold in the girl’s middle school bracket when Gorgiana Mora defeated Almeria’s Julie Perez. The match was close after the first end. The score was 25 to 24, advantage Mora. However, in the second end, Mora increased her lead by shooting a 29 and continued to shoot strong throughout the rest of the match, finishing with a 28 and a 29 to claim the gold medal, 111 to 107.

This was Mora’s first major competition. “In this event, I decided to just go for it because I was only competing against other girls,” Mora said. “We have competed against Almeria many times before and I would say it is more difficult for me in those competitions because we faced both boys and girls.”

In the boy’s high school division, the finals were between the number one and two ranked archers in the bracket. Stefan George, from John Muir, took a three point lead over his opponent, Matthew Yancheff from Glendale, in the first end. George then shot back-to-back 30’s, before both archers finished with straight 9’s. When the scores were tallied, George would take the match 115 to 104 and top the field of 13 archers to win the gold.

“This was actually the first competition John Muir has been to so the outcome was a bit surprising, but hopefully there will be more like it later on.” George said. “All I can say is how excited I am for the next one.”

In the girl’s bracket, Glendale’s Dalar Karimian met North Hollywood High’s Veronica Kim in the finals. Midway through the match, the archers were only three points apart, 48 to 45. In the final two ends though, Karimian plowed ahead with a pair of 26’s to take the match, 100-79.

At the conclusion of the OAS 2012 California State Championships, it was clear the sport of archery is growing among middle school and high school athletes. Many of the middle school competitors say they will continue to shoot and look into high school programs as well. Some even plan to pursue the passion in college.

“My teammates and I have talked about it quite a bit, and I know that most of us are hoping to go on to collegiate teams when we leave high school,” George said. “Personally, an archery team is one of the first things I look for when I am applying to colleges.”

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