[caption id="attachment_11826" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/03\/12.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-11826" src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/03\/12-300x130.jpg" alt="Standing along the 10-meter line, archers from Pocahontas County High School, Fayetteville High School and Buckhannon-Upshur High School prepare to take their first shot. Benjamin Davis and Matthew Pritt were PCHS' top-scoring individuals with fifth and fourth place, respectively. C. D. Moore photo" width="300" height="130" \/><\/a> Standing along the 10-meter line, archers from Pocahontas County High School, Fayetteville High School and Buckhannon-Upshur High School prepare to take their first shot. Benjamin Davis and Matthew Pritt were PCHS' top-scoring individuals with fifth and fourth place, respectively. <em>C. D. Moore photo<\/em>[\/caption]\r\n\r\nCailey Moore\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nIt was an early Saturday morning for Pocahontas County archers as teams from across the state gathered at Pocahontas County High School for a day of competition. Beginning at 9 a.m., elementary school archers shot first, followed by middle schoolers at noon, with the high school competition beginning after 2 p.m.\r\n\r\nMarlinton Elementary School finished second in its division, with an overall team score of 2,786 and two top-scoring individuals. Hannah Burks took fourth place in the Girls Division, with an overall score of 258 and nine 10-pointers, while Ryan Roy's score of 259 and 11 ten-pointers earned him fifth place in the Boys Division.\r\n\r\nMarlinton Middle School swept the board with an overall first place win and four high-scoring individuals. As a team, MMS beat out Peterstown and Buckhannon Upshur Middle Schools with a team score of 3,229. Individual scorers for the Girls were: Kelly Pyne \u2013 with a total of 275 and 13 tens \u2013 and Makenna McKenney \u2013 with a total of 272 and 14 tens \u2013 earned third and fifth places, respectively.\r\n\r\nMax Ervine took first with a score of 280, 15 tens and 12 nines, while T.D. Sparks rounded out the top five with a score of 275 and 14 tens.\r\n\r\nAlthough Pocahontas County High School doesn't have an official archery team, six students competed as individuals and earned two top five rankings. Matthew Pritt took fourth place with a score of 279 and 14 tens, while fifth place was determined via a shoot-out.\r\n\r\nTying for fifth \u2013 with a shot-for-shot score of 279, with 13 tens, 13 nines and 4 eights \u2013 were Fayetteville High School's Andrew Smith and Pocahontas County High School freshman Benjamin Davis.\r\n\r\nAccording to Pocahontas County Archery coach Jody Spencer, a shoot-out was the last thing anyone was expecting. By the time it was announced, PCHS archer Benjamin Davis \u2013 along with the majority of the tournament's competitors - had already packed up his equipment and loaded it into the car.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen we next saw Ben, he was breathing really heavy,\u201d Spencer recalled. \u201cFor a moment, we all thought he was excited and nervous, and we tried to help calm him down. He said, 'I'm not nervous! I just had to run all the way to the car and get my bow.'\r\n\r\n\u201cHe was out of wind from running to get his bow, but he pulled it together, and despite being under pressure, did a really great job for the last round. It was exciting.\u201d\r\n\r\nDavis won the shoot-out, defeating Smith with a score of 49-46 and securing his place in the top five.\r\n\r\nSpencer and his wife, Rebecca, brought archery to the county three years ago following a conversation with a friend's daughter.\r\n\r\nRather than restrict the sport to a specific grade level and limit the number of spaces available, Spencer and his wife made the decision to form elementary, middle and high school teams, and at their first sign-up, nearly eighty students \u2013 from schools across the county \u2013 showed up.\r\n\r\n\u201cI'd like to say it grew gradually,\u201d Spencer joked, \u201cbut it didn't. We jumped in with both feet.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe number of participants has since decreased, but there is still strong interest among the 65 students who make up the 2015-2016 archers.\r\n\r\nOnly Marlinton Elementary and Middle Schools had enough students to form teams this year, but that did not stop PCHS students Benjamin Davis, Carlie Ervine, Jason Jackson, Matthew Pritt, Dalton Sharp and Taylor Tegtmeyer from competing as individuals.\r\n\r\n\u201cThat's one of the beautiful things about archery,\u201d Spencer commented. \u201cIt's an individual sport, but it's also a team sport. Our six high schoolers are still able to shoot, still able to come to practice, and can still go the the tournaments. They just shoot and score as individuals. This gives them the opportunity to place in the tournament even if they don't represent a high school team in the team division.\u201d\r\n\r\nSpencer talked about the advantages of competing as a team, as well. As with any sport, there are those who fair better than others, but by competing as a team, the students who do not excel as individuals are given an opportunity to still be involved, as well as assist in the success of their team.\r\n\r\nThe Marlinton Elementary and Middle School Archery teams, as well as Pocahontas County High School students Benjamin Davis, Carlie Ervine and Matthew Pritt, will travel to Charleston at the end of the month to compete in the 11th Annual State tournament. The tournament will take place Saturday, March 26, at the Charleston Civic Center.