Lake Park Elementary School student Kate Douglas placed fourth nationally last year, but she’ll aim higher this weekend in Orlando. (Shane Douglas/Special to The Herald)
LEESBURG — Two elementary female archers, separated by 15 miles in Southwest Georgia, have already proven they’re two of the best in the nation.
Now, they’ll aim to show it off to the rest of the world.
Lee County Elementary’s Trellis Whaley and Lake Park Elementary’s Kate Douglas will shoot in the National Archery in the Schools Program World Tournament this weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. The duo will compete against about 1,200 student archers from the United States and other countries, including Canada, South Africa and Namibia. Whaley will shoot Friday at 7:15 p.m. and Douglas will go Saturday at 9:45 a.m. in Orlando.
Both girls practice year round and are fifth-graders at their respective schools. They shoot from different sides of the arrow quiver, but the results have been the same. As fourth-graders earlier this year, the nation took notice.
Whaley, a southpaw shooter, won the fourth-grade female division at the 2012 NASP National Tournament in May at the Louisville Expo Center in Kentucky with a score of 278 (out of 300), outscoring 231 others from all over the country.
“She has great form for a left hander and is focused, which makes her a great athlete,” Lee County Elementary archery coach Teresa Cherry said.
“This is a great honor for any student, and Trellis has aspirations of competing in tournaments around the state and one day to compete in the Olympics.”
NASP Nationals had more than 7,800 student archers shoot in elementary, middle and high school divisions from close to 40 states and was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest archery tournament ever held.
Douglas, a right-handed shooter who had never picked up a bow and arrow before trying out for the Lake Park Elementary archery team last year, was a natural. She placed fifth in the fourth-grade female division nationally in Louisville with a 271. Douglas won the Leesburg Regional elementary division last February to qualify for state, while Whaley finished second. Douglas finished fourth, one point behind Whaley in the elementary division, at the NASP-Georgia state tournament in March at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.
“(Douglas’) score at the national tournament motivated her to attend the world tournament to compete against other archers from different countries,” Lake Park Elementary archery coach Jeremy McKinley said.
“Kate has worked hard to get to where she is now and continues to work hard to make herself even better.”
Both girls also shoot on the Terrell County 4-H team, which is annually one of the top archery programs in the state and won a national 4-H title two years ago in Texas. Whaley has already shot a deer this bow season, and Douglas shot in the Junior Olympic Archery Development program last summer in Atlanta.
The 2013 NASP regional tournaments begin in January, and both will likely shoot in the Feb. 2 Leesburg Regional. The NASP is an in-school national program in 47 states allowing 4th-12th-grade students to participate in archery and is coordinated in Georgia by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.