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    October 17, 2021 Foley, Ala. RSS |

    With an expanded roster this semester, Liberty University’s men’s and women’s archery teams were able to enter trios into six out of a possible eight team categories for the first time in history at this past weekend’s USA Archery 3D National Championships at Graham Creek Interpretive Center in Foley, Ala.

    Liberty’s best team finish was recorded by the men’s compound trio of freshman semi-pro archer Austin Harrell, who placed 11th out of 57 competitors, graduate team captain Louis Boyd (26th), and sophomore Joel Barkley (52nd), who combined for a fourth-place team showing.

    The Flames and Lady Flames also fielded a coed/mixed equipment team composed of Harrell, Justin Lynn (bowhunting), and sophomore Natasha Leininger (Olympic recurve).

    “The Mixed Equipment rounds are insanely loud and full of school spirit and our team had the best cheering section in the entire venue,” Liberty Head Coach Ben Summers said.

    Summers described the 28-hour round-trip weekend as a “non-stop whirlwind of archery.”

    “The team was exhausted (after the return trip from 9 p.m. Saturday to 10 p.m. Sunday), but can’t stop talking about how happy they were able to attend such an exciting tournament,” he said.

    Leininger, who is the Lady Flames’ designated spiritual leader, placed seventh out of 23 competitors in the women’s Olympic Recurve for the best individual showing while senior Matthew Hale placed 11th out of 26 men’s barebow archers to tie Harrell for the men’s team’s best finish.

    Lynn placed 27th out of 60 archers in men’s bowhunting followed by senior Ben Williams (33rd), who earned All East Region honors last year and was competing in his final collegiate tournament before graduating in December.

    In women’s barebow, freshman Kayla Cassady placed 22nd out of 41 contestants followed by freshman Lily Coddington (24th) while sophomore Grace Wahl and women’s team captain Blakely Logsdon, a junior, finished 39th and 42nd, respectively, out of 67 women’s bowhunters. Freshman semipro Jadalynn Cooke placed 20th out of 44 women’s compound archers, followed by junior Emma Suggs (27th) and sophomore Lilah Hartman (28th).

    Complete results are available online.

    “The level of competition is getting much steeper with each passing year … but our athletes are showing up and working hard and we have earned respect as a solid team,” Summers said. “On the whole, our team had a very respectable showing with a large presence and a positive attitude.”

    Several of Liberty’s archers competing for the first time in a tournament improved their scores from Friday’s to Saturday’s individual qualifying rounds, including an increase of 15 points by freshman Samuel Deel, who was the 2020 Virginia state champion, and more than 30 by Cassady.

    Summers said Liberty’s archers — including Wahl and senior Marie Miller, who were specifically complimented by opposing teams’ coaches — have earned a reputation as people who can settle arguments and serve as positive role models, as those who encourage others and make the tournament run more smoothly.

    On Friday Leininger, Cooke, and Miller won $50 gift cards for being part of the top teams on their individual ranges in a Pro/Am-style team mixer with archers from other schools.