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Lawrence Co. participates in South State Qualifier

DAILY LEADER / Photo Submitted / Lawrence County's archery team will be in South State qualifying action today at the Columbia/Marion County Expo center, starting at 2 p.m.

DAILY LEADER / Photo Submitted / Lawrence County’s archery team will be in South State qualifying action today at the Columbia/Marion County Expo center, starting at 2 p.m.

MONTICELLO – The Lawrence County High School Archery Team is off to a great start this season. So far in 2015, the Cougars have already recorded four wins and have set their goal to repeat as State Champions for the third year in a row.

Although the team is in its third year, head coach David Barber still describes his team as young. “We’ve got two seniors on our team this year, a large junior class, and we loaded up with freshmen talent.”

The program started in 2013 with a freshmen dominated team that managed to surprise the state with a championship victory. The Cougars repeated as champions in 2014 and only lost one senior to graduation.

On February 28th, the 2015 season started off at the Columbia Academy Classic, where the Cougars managed to outpace several larger schools for the tournament victory. The CA Classic ended strangely. There was a three-way shoot off at the end of the tournament to determine the top male shooter, all three were tied with a score of 288.

“Oddly, they were all from our team,” Barber said. Blayke Turnage, Marc McNeese, and Konnor Battle shot before a large crowd to determine top honors. The shoot off took three rounds before McNeese emerged as the winner.

The following week, the Cougars traveled to the Simpson Central Invitational to compete in the High School division. At the event, LCHS managed to outscore Mendenhall team for the victory. Barber said that Mendenhall is a talented team that is hungry for a victory, and they’re growing in this sport every year. “We managed to leave Simpson Central with a 33 point victory. They’re a team that we will have to watch closely.”

Lawrence County hosted their third annual tournament on March 6th and 7th. The tournament has grown a lot since we started it three years ago. This year we had 33 different teams shooting in three divisions, elementary, middle school, and high school. Over 600 student archers participated in the event. Competition was again stiff at the tournament but the Cougars managed to claim the Grand Champion trophy at this year’s event.

On March 9th, the Cougars traveled to West Marion to take on the Trojans. “We had a special night at West Marion. Last year we managed to set the state record in scoring, with a score of 3,390. This year, we managed to set a new record, 3394.”

“Our program has grown into something that we’re very proud of. We hope to make this school and community proud as we represent it,” said Barber.

Leading the way for the boys this year are juniors, Blayke Turnage, Robbie Lee, and freshman Marc McNeese. The girls are led by juniors Alisa Promise, Jade Barkley, and Cheyenne Powell.

One of the best things the Cougars have going at the moment is the amount of interest coming from college programs. Mississippi College, William Carey University, Southwest and Co-Lin Community Colleges all have archery programs or are in the process of developing an archery program. Mississippi State will begin their archery program next year.

This week, Lawrence County travels to the Columbia/Marion County Expo center to participate in the South State Qualifier. All teams in the state must participate in their regional qualifiers in order to get a bid to the State Champion tournament. The Cougars will shoot at 2 p.m. today.