The Osakis archery team through the National Archery in the Schools Program is in the midst of its tournament season, with Osakis being right at about max capacity in terms of participation and what the program can handle in terms of space, equipment and volunteers.
Osakis has 64 kids in the archery program this year after having 65 a year ago.
“That 63-65 has been pretty consistent for us the last few years,” coach Chris Hunter said from the Alexandria tournament on Saturday. “It’s interesting. We’ve seen some of our older shooters struggle a little bit, but we have some young ones that are just lighting it up. We have one seventh-grader, Charlee Thieschafer, first two tournaments she shot 250. She’s one of these that is just climbing. We did get some new training aids this year, so some of our folks that we’re seeing struggling a little bit, we’re going to be getting on with the training aids and working on it.”
Thieschafer shot a 267 out of a possible 300 on Saturday in Alexandria, which was fourth best on the team for Osakis. That 267 was good for 15th overall among 99 girls. She was second out of 13 seventh-grade girls shooters and third out of 36 against all middle-school aged girls.
“She doesn’t get too nervous,” Hunter said of Thieschafer. “She’s just going up and shooting. Some of the kids we’re seeing struggle, they’re so focused on getting that 50 or punching that 10, that they’re forgetting their fundamentals. She’s much more smooth in how she’s shooting. Archery, if you talk to the Olympic folks, it’s 90-some percent mental.”
Freshmen Aidan Gulbranson and Connor Gulbranson led Osakis overall. Aidan shot a 277, good for sixth out of 62 high-school boys. Connor was eighth in that same category after shooting a 275. Marissa Reilly was the top female finisher for Osakis with a 271. Reilly was first among seven senior girls and ninth out of 47 high school girls.
More than 250 kids from 10 different schools competed at the Alexandria tournament across elementary, middle school and high school divisions. Sauk Centre and Melrose both have good participation at the elementary level. That helps feed more accurate archers in the middle school and high school divisions, but it also is where a lot of programs run into problems as it pertains to finding space, equipment and volunteer coaches to add kids at those younger ages.
“Honestly, we really couldn’t get much better in terms of the staff that we have and the space that we have,” Hunter said of Osakis’ numbers overall. “We did an elementary program this fall, and we had a 100 fourth, fifth and sixth graders come out for that. We looked at that and said, ‘Oh my goodness.’ We had to split them across three nights just to accommodate everybody. If we tried to add elementary to what we’re doing like Sauk Centre does, we don’t have the equipment, the space, the coaches to handle it.”
Hunter said Osakis wants to keep hosting that elementary program each year so kids can get some training and experience and be ready for joining the team in sixth and seven grade.
“That way we’re getting kids when they get to high school that they’ve gotten some good training,” Hunter said. “We’ve seen with Sauk Centre, their elementary program has fed into their middle school team, and their middle school team is just shooting lights out. We’d kind of like to see a little of that too, but we’re a few years behind them.”
Space is a limiting factor for Osakis in terms of its ability to really grow the program right now.
“During most of our season, we’re restricted to the old gym,” Hunter said. “We’re 18 kids on the line at a time. That’s as good as we can do. When we do the tournament, we get into the elementary gym, but that space isn’t available to us during the bulk of our season.”
Osakis will host its home archery tournament at Osakis Public School on March 21 this year. It’s a chance for kids to shoot in front of their friends and family as part of local tournaments that are hosted between Osakis, Sauk Centre, Alexandria and Melrose during the season. Students will wrap up their season by putting their aim up against the best archers in Minnesota at the state tournament March 27-28 this year in Foley.
OSAKIS SCORES (Out of possible 300) - Aidan Gulbranson - 277; Connor Gulbranson - 275; Marissa Reilly - 271; Charlee Thieschafer - 267; Lynnea Maus - 266; Eric Marquardt - 265; Anthony Leighton - 264; Mikayla Schablin - 264; Katie Helm - 260; Ethan Hiltner - 258; Brennen Gustafson - 255; Thomas Weiler - 251; Noah Nessman - 251; Scott Gebhardt - 250; Jason Wiggins - 248; Noah Schultz - 247; Adam Ciepielinski - 247; Kirsten Mathwig - 240; Joshua Barhorst - 239; Courtenay Oeltjen - 239; Blake Rousslang - 236; Brooklyn Holmquist - 236; Adrian Dietrich - 235; Mackenzie Holmquist - 232; Anna Jacobson - 229; Taye Mathews - 229; Lillyann Martin - 228; Zander Redning - 228; Matt Ramey - 225; Ethan Lund - 225; Gabe Giesler - 222; Lyndsey Middendorf - 220; Ben Reilly - 216; Alexis Witt - 215; Avery Mounsdon - 212; Grant Stelling - 207; Brooke Euerle - 206; Lara Drum - 197; Corbin Slaamot - 196; Heather Marquardt - 169