By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
John Judy has been shooting a bow for 32 years, and even he didn’t see this coming.
Shady Spring Middle School finished in third place at last weekend’s National Archery in Schools Program National Tournament in Louisville, Ky., qualifying the young Tigers team for the NASP World Championships in Madison, Wis. The World Championships will take place July 11 through 13.
“I never dreamed it,” Judy said, when asked if he ever thought he’d be coaching a team heading to the world championships.
The Tiger archers scored 3,352 points, finishing just eight points behind first-place team Trigg County School (Cadiz, Ky,) and five points behind Lamar Middle School (Flower Mound, Texas). Shady Spring was one of three schools from West Virginia that took part in the event, joining Winfield Middle School (74th place) and Peterstown Middle School (169th place).
Leading the way for the Tigers was Grayson Payne, who shot 289, finishing in 17th place out of 2,477 competitors. Samuel Brown (285) finished 47, while Jacob Anderson (283) and Cole Higgonbotham (280) finished in 78th and 137th places, respectively.
Piper Burgess scored 286, placing 25th out of 2,204 middle school girls. Teammates Jessica Bailey (282) and Brooklyn Jones (279) placed 55 and 105.
“It was a great weekend for us,” Judy said. “We didn’t have one kid who really shined; they all did and they all shot well. Eight points out of first place — what more could you ask for?”
For the longtime archer, Judy is finding himself in new territory when it comes to the world championships, which will put his Tigers against the best youth archers in the world.
And while that opportunity is opening new doors for the Shady Spring program, Judy isn’t rushing it yet.
“I told some of the other coaches that we better enjoy this third in the nation while it lasts,” he said. “We’re a strong program, and we’re going to be strong again, but competing at this level and keeping that ranking is a pretty big undertaking.”
But perhaps the biggest undertaking for Judy and the Tigers will be taking his team to Wisconsin this summer.
“We’re qualified for the Worlds and we’re going to try to go,” Judy said. “If we can get financial backing.”
To take the Shady Spring archers on the trip, Judy has estimated the cost to be between $10,000 and $15,000. The cost would include chartered buses and lodging for the three-day tournament.
Judy and his staff are currently reviewing their options for fundraising, but noted that a pair of local businesses have already pledged their support.
“They’ve been so supportive; it means a lot.”
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In addition to the middle school, Shady Spring High School archers Ryan Bragg and Alex Burks finished strong, shooting 292 and 290 respectively. Bragg finished 24th out of 1,684 archers while Burks placed 40th.
Independence High School’s Logan Hunt finished 21st out of 1,466 girls, shooting 290 with 20 tens..