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Picayune archery finishes in top 10 of state tournament

The Picayune Maroon Tide archery team traveled to St. Martin last Friday to take part in the state meet and left as the ninth best team in Mississippi.

An overall score of 3,171 was good enough to crack the top 10 as Picayune’s top performers pulled their weight.

Greg Sandifer led all Maroon Tide archers with a score of 285 while Brianna Barousse and Lily Stewart both shot 273.

Coach Bryan Edwards said there were some nerves given the big stage, and that in turn affected the team’s overall score.

“There was pressure on them, but it’s hard to pinpoint what the problem was. We didn’t score bad, but it wasn’t our best score,” Edwards said.

However, there was more to the competition than just finishing in a certain place.

The team’s season was derailed last year because of COVID-19 so the athletes never got the chance to compete at the state level.

This year, Edwards and his athletes were able to finally compete against the best in Mississippi after a long delay.

“The experience itself, some of the older ones have experienced it, but for the younger ones it was a great experience for them and considering it was the first time in that situation I was really pleased with their performance. The atmosphere was still there,” Edwards said.

Being the ninth best team in the state isn’t an easy accomplishment, but there’s hope for the future of the program as well. Some of the team’s best athletes will be graduating, but there are several up and coming archers who could fill those voids. Among the young talents is Kayden Martin.

Martin will be in junior high next year, but his performances this season mean there will be high expectations for the middle schooler when 2022 rolls around.

“He’ll be an eighth grader and I’ll be looking for leadership out of him if that tells you anything. He was very consistent this year. He’s kind of the next man up. My top four girls will also be back that shot in south state, and that’s a big plus to have to the four top girls coming back,” Edwards said.

The team will now head into the offseason with the majority of athletes training as individuals.

Edwards said a lot of the archers have bows and targets at their homes, so they’ll be responsible for keeping up with their technique and staying sharp until next year.

“They’ll do most of the practice in the offseason on their own and then in December next year we’ll open it up again,” Edwards said.