Donations to help cover the costs of Amy Puckett’s NASP World Tournament trip can be made by contacting Selco Credit Union at 541-312-1842. An account has been opened under the name of “Amy World Archery Fund.”
Placing second in a national archery competition is a notable accomplishment. Runner-up in a field of nearly 1,500 is remarkable. And finishing No. 2 in the country after a mere eight months in the sport is nearly unheard of.
Yet that is what Bend High’s Amy Puckett achieved this month at the 2014 National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) national championships.
Puckett, a senior, is part of a Bend High archery team that in March won the Oregon state NASP tournament and qualified for nationals, which were held May 8-10 in Louisville, Ky. At the national tournament, Puckett won a silver medal in the High School Girls Division, placing second among 1,466 archers in her class.
“When I first got done, my name was at first place,” Puckett recalled last week. “But some of the later teams brought me down to second. I was super happy and it was the best I’ve shot so far.”
During the awards ceremony following the national competition, Puckett and four other archers faced off in a shootout for college scholarships. Puckett managed to shoot her way to a $10,000 scholarship.
“I didn’t actually know that there was a scholarship thing,” she said. “But the top five girls competed for different scholarships. I actually tied with another girl for second — and this was at the ceremony so everyone was watching — but we had a tiebreaker of one arrow closest to the center and I won that tiebreaker.”
Puckett ended up ranking third out of 4,709 in an all-grades girls category at the national tournament, which qualified her for the NASP World Tournament set for July 11-13 in Madison, Wis.
“I’m super excited to just be able to go (to the world event),” Puckett said. “I also just found out there is a little competition after. It’s an all-stars tournament. So there’s still stuff that I’m finding out that I’m really excited for.”
Puckett was an unlikely prospect to become a world-class high school archer. She had never even picked up a bow until last September, when she heard a school announcement for Bend High’s new archery club.
“After winning my first archery tournament I was really surprised,” Puckett said. “Then I was excited that we decided as a whole team that we would go to state. Then we did really well at state and it qualified us for nationals.”
Puckett found immediate success in the sport. She won every competition until the state tournament in Grants Pass, where she was edged by teammate Caitlin Wulf. Wulf also competed at the NASP national tournament, placing 479th in the High School Girls Division.
With the state victory, the Bend High squad of 12 — Puckett and Wulf, along with Kyle Riper, Trenton Dickenson, Jillian Dean, Wyatt Scott, Amanda Mahaney, Emma Jewett, Cody Hill, Moriah Fernald, Sumi Sakasegwa and Dylan Itnyre — qualified for the national tournament. The Lava Bears competed in a field of eight at state and had to win in order to move on.
“I remember when these kids first came in to start shooting, and I told them how good they were,” said Bend High coach Jon Brickey. “Then they kept improving, kept improving, then they went to state and we had a goal set for how many points we wanted to do, and we topped that and won, which allowed us as a team to go to the national shoot. In fact, Amy wasn’t the top shooter at state, it was Caitlin. And that’s that whole team aspect, where any given day someone could get hot.”
Brickey, who owns Competitive Edge Archery in Bend, said much of the credit for the team’s improvement goes to assistant coach Ed Creasy.
“He is able to find those tiny things that they’re doing wrong and fix it,” Brickey said. “I really probably attribute the success of what Amy has, and all these kids have, to him. Because he can take them to that next level.”
Following the state victory, the team spent weeks raising funds so the entire group could travel to Louisville to compete.
The Lava Bears finished 74th out of the 164 high school teams represented at the national competition. According to Brickey, the standings do not accurately reflect his team’s performance.
“We didn’t go to nationals for tickles and giggles,” Brickey said. “As far as the team goes, we finished among the top 40 percent — which doesn’t sound impressive, but we only had 12 kids and had to count every score. A lot of other teams had 24 kids and got to throw out their bottom 12 scores. So we had to count everybody. So hopefully they’ll listen to me when I say, ‘You guys really did well.’ ”
Brickey noted that neither Puckett’s individual success at nationals nor that of the Bend High team would have been possible without Jewett. The sixth-grader at Westside Village Magnet School was allowed by NASP rules to compete at nationals so long as she was representing the high school she planned to attend.
“This whole team is the reason why (Amy) was able to do what she was able to do,” Brickey said. “It actually took more than Bend High School. … If we look at everything that has happened, it kind of started with a sixth-grader, which is cool because there are all these things that had to fall into place to make it happen.”
While Puckett was the top competitor for the Lava Bears at nationals, several Bend High archers finished respectably as well. Mahaney was 198th and Sakasegwa was 219th in the High School Girls Division, Jewett was 282nd out of 2,024 entries in the Middle School Girls Division, and Dickenson was 515th among 1,684 contestants in the High School Boys Division.
“The coolest part about all of this is knowing that most of us are going to come back (next year) and be twice as good,” said Mahaney, a sophomore. “We’re going to actually try and place (at nationals) next year. It’s cool to think about that. Now that we’ve had the experience, we know what to look for.”
With the national tournament concluded, Puckett is focusing all of her energy on fundraising and practicing for the world tournament.
“I would like to at least match my score from nationals, if not do better,” she said, “because that would be pretty awesome. I’m really looking forward to (the tournament in Wisconsin) and meeting people from all over the world.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0375, email@example.com