Pt Higgins archery

Sixth graders Sophia Pilgrim and Hunter Harrell collect arrows from the target and tally scores during the Point Higgins Archery Tournament on Friday at Point Higgins Elementary School. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Members of the Point Higgins Elementary School archery club were aiming for a top spot during the Alaska State Bullseye Virtual Tournament on Friday.

During the tournament — which lasted for most of the school day – the gym was quiet as students lined up to take their shots at oversized sandbag targets on the opposite side of the gym. The young archers held their fire until being instructed to start the round by physical education teacher Katie Sivertsen.

Alongside Brian Eliot, Sivertsen coaches the archery club at Point Higgins. The club includes students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

This is Sivertsen's first year of coaching, but it isn't the first year of archery for students at Point Higgins.

Sivertsen told the Daily News that an archery program existed at the elementary school in the 1980s or 1990s. She also recalled that the program that exists now — which allows students to virtually enter tournaments – was started around six years ago by former Point Higgins teacher Sam Hernandez.

Sivertsen has taught at Point Higgins for two years.

“I get to play,” Sivertsen said was her favorite part of the job. “And I get to meet every single kid, and that's the most special thing.”

Sivertsen’s role as the P.E. teacher is closely linked to her work as the archery coach, because schools only qualify for a tournament if the students are taught archery in their physical education course.

“I think the cool thing about archery is even if you're not traditionally athletic — you know, you're not super fast, you're not great with a ball, maybe you can't run for a very long time — you can still be highly successful,” Sivertsen told the Daily News while cleaning up from the tournament on Friday afternoon. “... Truly anybody can participate.”

There are about 35 students in the Point Higgins archery club, Sivertsen said. Due to scheduling conflicts with other sports like soccer, some students had to drop out. During the tournament, there were around 34 competitors.

The team qualifies to compete in a variety of tournaments, including the Bullseye tournament that happened last week at Point Higgins. The tournament was presented by the National Archery in Schools program.

“Our kids are competing virtually against any other programs in the state,” Sivertsen said.

The tournament is “digital,” which means results are tallied online by NASP, and there is no travel involved for the teams.

“I'll plug all of the kids' information into the NASP website, and every school who's competed will do the same. … After that, they'll kick out a report that has all of the archers in the state listed and ranked in order,” Sivertsen explained.

Teams will have the chance to continue to compete during virtual nationwide tournaments, as well.

For tournaments, Sivertsen splits the club into two teams.

For the Bullseye tournament, the elementary team was comprised of 23 fourth- and fifth-grade students, while the middle school team was made up of 11 sixth-graders.

The tournament was held during school hours on Friday.

The students were ushered into the gym in groups and a two-minute timer was projected on the wall.

After Sivertsen said “go,” the students shot their arrows at the target from a distance of 10 and then 15 meters away. When the time was up, they jogged to the other side of the gym, where they collected their arrows and recorded their points on scoring sheets.

Sivertsen then collected the scoring sheets and tallied the points. She shared the students' individual scores just minutes after the tournament ended. The students will have to wait until later this month to see how they did against other Alaska schools.

Sivertsen recalled that the Point Higgins elementary-level team clinched second in the state last year, while the middle school team claimed third.

This year, the highest scorer on the elementary team was Xavier D., who earned 120 total points.

The top 12 archers on the fourth- and fifth-grade teams also included Sarah Kleeman (201 points), Grace Brakke (193), Lily Brakke (191), Ezra Roskam (179), Sabrina Hillberry (169), Brevin L., (168), Patrick Ross (162), Peter Hoefer, (157), Landen Houtcooper (157), Carder Reed (141) and Bailey Slanaker (136).

The middle school team's top scorer was Hunter Harrell, with a final score of 228 points.

Other archers on the middle school team include Grace Sanders (224 points), Sophia Pilgrim (221), Finn Summers (212), Sage Webber (200),  Addisen Zink (187), Sam Moore (173), Liam Woodward (159), Addison L. (147), Zachary Simants (140) and Novalee B. (103).