Deputy Elementary’s archery team poses for a picture with the Indiana state championship trophy after the Dead Eyes won their second title in four years on Saturday in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)
Deputy Elementary’s archery team poses for a picture with the Indiana state championship trophy after the Dead Eyes won their second title in four years on Saturday in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)
It took a three-year rebuild to get there but the Deputy Elementary Dead Eyes are back on top of bow-shooting in Indiana.

The Dead Eyes, state champions in 2014, became one of just two elementary schools with multiple state titles Saturday when they won the 2017 National Archery In the Schools Indiana state finals at the annual statewide shoot at the Indiana Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

Deputy’s 24-member team went into the shoot as the top seed in the state and lived up to that and more by posting a 3,110 that was 110 points higher than its qualifying score. The total was good for a 76-point win over runner-up Hayden Elementary and Deputy was the only squad in the 32-team field to break 100 tens (bulls-eyes) with 103.

According to coach Chris Calhoun, it was the type of performance that he and fellow coach Jennifer Amburgey expected after three seasons of rebuilding following the school’s first title in 2014.

“After 2014 we lost 18 of our 24 archers so we spent 2015 rebuilding and finished 66 points out of first that year and then we were third in the state last year. This year we were able to come back with that experience like we had in 2014 and win it all,” Calhoun said, noting that their archers have worked hard and smart to gain the skill and experience to get back on top.

“This is a more experienced team,” he said. “It’s the product of three years of rebuilding. After 2014 we had to do a major rebuild when we lost so many fifth graders. Now we’ve got a stronger team because those third and fourth graders are older and our new third and fourth graders are stronger so we should not face as big of a rebuild next year.”

Deputy posted it’s qualifying score at a state qualifier at Southwestern in February but that was just part of a longer set of goals the team has set and achieved.

“Our goal on day one was to win state but we broke that down into smaller goals and this team met all of our goals,” Calhoun said. “One of our goals was to break 3,100 by March and we did that. It’s taken a lot of hard work and we’ve got a good and talented team.

“This team is a little different than some of our past teams,” Calhoun added. “They have worked more together and they have set more goals and achieved them.”

Deputy’s winning score was comprised of the top 12 of the 24 team members. Since archery is a co-ed sport the team score must include at least four female shooters but Deputy’s top 12 was evenly split with six males and six females.

Deputy’s top boy and top girl posted identical 273 scores but Cole Bechman scored 11 tens to place fifth in the state out of 348 elementary boys and third among 167 fifth grade boys while Brooklynn Hazelwood scored 10 tens to place fifth among 320 elementary girls and fourth among 160 fifth grade girls.

Other scoring archers for Deputy included: Autumn Ross (4th grade/girl), 266 and 10 tens; Layne Laufer (4th/boy), 266 and nine tens; Ryan Stoner (5th/boy), 264 and 10 tens; Creedence Helton (4th/boy), 262 and nine tens; Emma Richey (5th/girl), 260 and 11 tens; Allison Palmer (4th/girl), 255 and eight tens; Chloe Graham (5th/girl), 251 and six tens; Sydney Amburgey (4th/girl), 249 and six tens; Nicholas Smith (3rd/boy), 247 and eight tens; and Kye Johnson (5th/boy), 244 and five tens.

The rest of the team included: Tracent Chatham (3rd/boy), 242 and five tens; Bridgett Boles (3rd/girls), 238 and six tens; Michelle Hatton (3rd/girl), 229 and five tens; Ruby Willoughby (3rd/girl) 223 and four tens; Emma Laufer (3rd/girl), 213 and two tens; Sydney Huff (3rd/girl), 208 and three tens; Addie Stitsworth (4th/girls), 200 and one ten; Jacob Smith (4th/boy), 196 and five tens; Ryanne Rose (5th/girl), 192 and four tens; Laura Boles (3rd/girl), 189 and two tens; Mashya Wells (3rd/girls), 188 and two tens; and Sean Neff (4th/boys), 97 and no tens.

With the state championship now checked on its list, Deputy will now turn to other even higher goals. The team has qualified for both Nationals on May 11-13 in Louisville and Worlds July 20-22 in Orlando, Fla., and Calhoun and Amburgey have already drafted a new set of goals to prepare the team for those competitions.

The team will complete April 1 in Seymour and April 8 at Jennings County and by the last of those two meets Calhoun would like to see the Dead Eyes shooting a 3,150 with the bigger goal of shooting at least a 3,200 by Nationals.

“The top 10 at Nationals last year shot between 3,202 and 3,240 so if we can shoot in the 3200s we should be in a position to at least be in the top 10,” Calhoun said.

Another task is raising the funds to pay for the trips. While shooting at Nationals in Louisville is pretty easy, the team will need a lot of support to fund its trip to Orlando for Worlds. Calhoun said the community has always been supportive in the past and he hopes the team’s fundraisers will be as well-received this year.

After the trip to Orlando, the team’s seven fifth graders will move on to middle and high school shooting after this season but that far less of a hit than the 18 departures in 2014.

“We’ve got a really strong third grade class so we’re going to be competitive next year. We won’t have to be rebuilding,” Calhoun said. “We won’t be as strong right away because we’ve got some tough archers to replace in that fifth grade class but we’re not going to be like three years ago where we were totally rebuilding. We’ve got some good third and fourth graders.”

Deputy was one of four local elementary schools and 12 teams overall represented at the state finals. Here’s a look at the others:

Madison Consolidated High School was the top local high school team finishing ninth out of 29 teams with a score of 3,300 with 154 tens. James Weir was the Cubs’ top shooter with a 294 and 24 tens that ranked him first out of 111 10th grade boys, second among 324 high school boys and third in the overall field of 1,075 boys all divisions. Weir was one point behind Jennings County’s Jason Gasper, who shot a 295 with 26 tens as the individual champion.

Taylor Backus was the Cubs’ top female shooter with a 285 and 18 tens that left her third among 93 10th grade girls.

Switzerland County High School was 22nd out of 29 high school teams with a 3,220 and 121 tens. Dustin Wallace (11th/boy) led the Pacers with a 281 and 14 tens while Hailey Dornbusch (10th/girl) shot a 279 with 14 tens.

Southwestern High School was 19th out of 29 high school teams with a 3,252 score and 129 tens. Ashley Thomas (12th/girl) shot a 281 with 15 tens and Ben McDonald (10th/boy) shot a 274 with 13 tens.

Madison Junior High was the top local middle school team placing 11th out of 31 teams with 3,179 points and 104 tens. Quinton Huff (6th/boy) shot a 279 with 15 tens that ranked second among 134 sixth grade boys and Hannah Ruthledge (8th/girl) shot a 267 with nine tens.

Southwestern Middle School was 21st out of 31 teams with a 3,090 and 81 tens. Derrick Osborn (8th/boy) led Southwestern with a 278 and 14 tens while Jodi Taflinger (7th/girl) shot a 268 with 10 tens,

Christian Academy of Madison fielded two shooters and Adin Gamble (7th/boy) shot a 272 with seven tens and Mylee Jackinsowski (7th/girl) shot a 270 with 14 tens.

Switzerland County Middle School fielded one shooter and Mila Capehart (7th/girl) shot a 266 with eight tens.

Ryker’s Ridge Elementary placed 13th out of 32 teams with 2,859 points and 61 tens. Sydney Kendall (fifth/girl) shot a 263 with eight tens while Nathaniel Trueblood (4th/boy) shot a 260 with 12 tens.

Southwestern Elementary was 20th with 2,798 points and 54 tens. Caleb Seals was Southwestern’s top shooter with a 275 and 14 tens that ranked him second among fourth grade boys and third among elementary boys. Delaney Conover (5th/girl) shot a 251 with 12 tens.

Canaan Community Academy was 24th with 2,719 and 37 tens. Deziray Wilson (5th/girl) was the top shooter with a 258 and two tens while Trenton Austin (fifth/boy) shot a 247 with six tens.

Shawe Memorial fielded one shooter and Kelly McClure (4th/girl) scored a 243 with eight tens.