Freshman archer aims for nationals

Mariana Torres DeLine prepares to compete at state, aspires to build a McCallum team next year

Steven Tibbetts

Mariana Torres De Line prepares to shoot an arrow at the a NASP state qualification tournament at Lamar Middle School on Jan. 28. Mariana finished the tournament with 266 out of a possible 300 points, which at the time was her personal best. Mariana later learned that her score was enough to qualify for the state NASP tournament in Belton on March 21-22. Mariana’s results from that competition were not in as of print time. Photo by Kristen Tibbetts.

To understand freshman Mariana Torres DeLine’s relationship with archery, you first have to hear about her reaction when she learned she had qualified for the state National Archery in the Schools Program, or NASP, tournament.

“I was having a mental breakdown at the moment because I was very stressed about school,” Mariana said, “and my dad walks into my room and hands me his phone and on it is the qualifying cut-off scores, and it took me a while to realize that my score was higher than the cut-off score. At first, before he walked in, I was just crying because I was stressed and then after it, I was crying because I qualified. It was exciting.”

Mariana’s dad, Jim DeLine, was the person that first got her into archery. As the physical education coach at Highland Park Elementary, DeLine had become a certified archery instructor by NASP, and wanted to start an archery unit in his class.

“We had a huge fundraiser and it became something that we did as an in-class activity,” Mariana said. “And over time is was just one of those things that I learned to love.”

DeLine thinks Mariana first got into archery because she liked the way it felt to shoot and because she was talented.

“Mariana got into archery because the sport itself is empowering,” DeLine said via email. “There is something magical about shooting a bow and arrow, something even more enchanting when you become proficient. She has always been a wonderful dancer and keen to the importance of technique and form. These skills translated nicely to her becoming proficient with the bow and arrow.”

Thanks to her dad’s equipment and coaching, Mariana continued to improve as an archer by practicing a few hours every week after leaving Highland Park. While she admitted that having her dad as a coach is tough at times, she said she really appreciates her dad’s help.

“I don’t like admitting things like [this] to [my dad], but I am thankful for him starting the program,” Mariana said. “He does coach me. He doesn’t think it, but I do take [his coaching] into consideration. Being coached by my dad, it’s not always the most pleasant experience. We get into little spats about it, like he would tell me to do something, and I’d just glare at him like, ‘don’t tell me what to do,’ but it’s cool.”

Despite the challenges that come with coaching your daughter, DeLine enjoys coaching Mariana because of her determination.

“It is a dream [to coach Mariana],” DeLine said. “We try to keep our practices fun and enjoy the time together. It is not always perfect, but I really respect how determined she is to get better, and the steps she takes to get there. What else could a coach or dad want?”

Practices with her dad are what prepared Mariana for archery competitions like the NASP tournament, she participated in on Jan. 28 at Lamar Middle School. This tournament was Mariana’s chance to qualify for the state NASP tournament, but to qualify she would have to score higher than many other high school girls across the state. With a trip to state on the line, Mariana achieved a personal best score, 266 out of a possible 300 points. Mariana, however, doesn’t remember much about that competition.

“Archery to begin with is very methodical, and it’s one of those things that you need a rhythm for,” Mariana said. “And so I usually don’t pay attention to what I’m doing, I pay attention to how I’m doing it, so I kind of blank out. I focus as hard as I can.”

Mariana’s focus was rewarded when she found out she had qualified for the state competition.

In Mariana’s next tournament, the Kennedale Wildcat Open on March 3, she shot a new personal best score of 274 points. Fifty of those points came from a perfect five-arrow final round, where she hit the bullseye each time from 15 meters away.

“This is very rare, like a hole in one in golf,” DeLine said of the perfect round in an email. “The first in the history of Highland Park, Lamar, and McCallum archery!”

Mariana competed in the state NASP tournament on March 21-22 in Belton, where she had a chance at qualifying for the national competition. The results of the competition were not available at press time.

“[I want] to shoot the best I can because in all honesty, I won’t probably be able to qualify for nationals this year,” Mariana said. “So my goal is just to do the best I can and get as much experience as I can so that next year I will be able [to make it].”

For Mariana though, archery isn’t all about how well she does in her competitions; it’s more about how archery makes her feel.

“Archery is one of the few things I have confidence in,” Mariana said. “I’m not a very confident person to begin with, so even if I don’t end up doing something great with it, I want to still be able to do it because it makes me feel good.”

Mariana’s biggest goal in her high school archery career isn’t just to excel at her sport, but to share it with others around her.

“I would like to start a team at McCallum because it’s a lot easier qualifying on a team than it is individually,” Mariana said. “In fact, I was the only person at [the Lamar] tournament trying to qualify individually. By the time I graduate I would like there to be a team, and I would like to go to state with that team.”

Luckily for Mariana, her dad is bringing lots of new archers into his program. Seventy-two archers from Highland Park and Lamar qualified for the state competition and are going to Belton with Mariana. The future for McCallum archery is looking bright.