WV’s scholastic archery tournament moves to MU

March 25, 2019

It started in a high-school gymnasium.

Now, West Virginia’s Archery in the Schools State Tournament needs more room.

A lot more room.

To answer the ever-increasing demand for more space, this year’s edition of the tournament will take place in the Chris Cline Athletic Complex on the campus of Marshall University. It’s the football team’s indoor practice facility, complete with a 100-yard-long synthetic turf field. On March 30, shooters will be strung the length of that field.

“We’ll have 100 kids on the firing line at once,” said Kayla Donathan, who coordinates the event for the state Division of Natural Resources. “That’s way more than we’re used to having.”

In past years, organizers have had to scale the tournament to the size of the hosting facility. This year, with so much room at their disposal, they were able to accommodate 600 shooters.

“That’s a little bit more than last year,” Donathan said. “We were able to take one more team in each of the three divisions, for a total of about 70 more kids.”

In all, 21 teams qualified for this year’s tournament — seven each in the Elementary School, Middle School and High School divisions. In addition, organizers invited the top 15 shooters in each division who were not on teams.

Qualifying took place in February. In each of the past two years, the largest qualifying tournament — hosted by Elkview Middle School — was held at the Marshall facility. Donathan said the events helped prepare tournament officials for the scale and size of this year’s State Tournament.

“This is a great place to hold the tournament,” she added. “There’s plenty of room for spectators to spread out. Parents will be able to see how their kids are doing.”

Because the facility only has a single set of low bleachers on one side, spectators are being encouraged to bring camp chairs or folding chairs.

“The good news is that there’s plenty of parking,” Donathan said. “Marshall is offering free parking in the football stadium lots, and in all the lots that surround the Chris Cline Complex. It’s right on campus, so there’s lots of food and shopping options in the area, lots to see and do.”

With the ability to accommodate 100 shooters at a time on the firing line, the tournament should take fewer hours to complete.

“It’s going to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Donathan said. “The awards ceremonies are at 3:30. Everyone should be headed home by 4.”

The scope of this year’s tournament stands in stark contrast to the first State Tournament, held in 2006 in the Capital High School gymnasium. Fewer than 300 shooters attended that inaugural event.

Admission to this year’s tournament is $5 for age 18 and up and $3 for ages 6-17. Children under age 6 will be admitted free.

Students who excel at the State Tournament qualify for the AIS National Tournament to be held in May. Invitations to the nationals will be extended to all the individual winners, male and female, in each division, as well as to the first-place teams in each division.