They’ve got range

Team offers resources for archers at all competitive levels; Northcutt earns top sophomore boy score at Nationals


Courtesy of the McCallum Archery Team

Not content only to shoot arrows while on their trip to Utah to compete in National Archery in the Schools U.S. Western National Tournament in Utah, the members of the Mac archery team also honed their marksmanship skills by throwing snowballs.

Caroline Owen, co-sports and co-people editor

The environment fostered by the archery team is a representation of the sport itself. They’re both about finding the perfect equilibrium between critical precision and self assurance. Shooting is all about finding the exact aim point and then going for it. The team uses this same formula, teaching archers the correct form and then giving them the freedom to develop individually at any pace they feel comfortable.

[Archery] is very welcoming to newcomers. You won’t feel like an intruder, and you won’t feel isolated at all. It’s definitely all sorts of skill levels.

— junior Mikaela Washlesky

Some archers, like junior Mikaela Washlesky, prefer to keep their stress low and their spirits high. Her experience with a bow and arrow was limited to the occasional Girl Scout camp throughout her childhood, until late fall of 2021 when she joined the archery team as a way to meet new people.

“I didn’t go to Lamar or anything, I went to a smaller school [St. Louis Catholic School], so I didn’t know anyone,” Washlesky said. “[Archery] is very welcoming to newcomers. You won’t feel like an intruder, and you won’t feel isolated at all. It’s definitely all sorts of skill levels.”

After an initial learning curve, Washlesky caught on quickly.

“For a few weeks, I was shooting kind of all over the place,” Washlesky said. “Once I found my aim point, everything got a lot better, we upped the draw weight, I learned to use the bow and even got my own.”

Even though Washlesky shot like a seasoned archer just weeks after joining the team, she always intended to keep archery a leisurely extracurricular, even at the state tournament on March 22.

“For me, I was trying my hardest to take state as easy as I do normal tournaments,” Walshlesky said. “I was trying to remind myself, ‘It’s whatever, if you do bad you do bad.’”

If sophomore Theo Northcutt looks a bit like a super hero in this archery photo, that’s no accident. The photo was taken as part of a partnership between U.S. Archery and Marvel Comics to promote the sport. Northcutt certainly had a Hawkeye-like performance at Nationals. Of the 30 arrows that Northcutt shot at Nationals, 20 were bullseyes, nine were 9’s and only one was an 8. Photo courtesy of U.S. Archery.

Walshlesky shot a score of 261 at state, placing her 240th out of 1446 girls at the tournament. She had hoped to do better, expected to do worse, but most importantly, did not take either of those forecasts too seriously.

“I think state was actually the worst [performance] of my season,” Walshleky recalled with a laugh. “But it’s a very supportive environment. The teammates are really supportive, even if you do badly.”

Sophomore Theo Northcutt is among those teammates. While he agrees that the team fosters a generally relaxed and recreational atmosphere, he doesn’t let that affect his own intensity level.

This year, I really broke out of that [280’s] plateau. For me, that was really hard. It took me about a year to get past that level and be very purposeful with every practice and every arrow.

— sophomore Theo Northcutt

“I go to every optional practice I can,” Northcutt said. “I don’t think [the atmosphere] really gets in my way at all because I have the resources that I need.”

Among these resources is a membership at an archery range afforded to the entire team. In addition to being a McCallum head coach, Coach Kat Davis owns Central Texas Archery, so she encourages her high school archers to use the range anytime. In fact, Northcutt also works at Central Texas Archery as an instructor for both kids and adults. Between his job, his access to a large, outdoor range, and his commitment to show up to three McCallum practices in the gym each week, Northcutt gets his fair share of training in.

He wasn’t always this intense however. Northcutt has been doing archery since seventh grade, when his best friend encouraged him to join the Lamar archery team.

“I wasn’t super serious about it in middle school, I just did it for fun,” Northcutt said. “The Lamar coaches didn’t do a whole lot of form stuff. It was mostly mental stuff and just introducing me to archery so I could get more serious about it in high school.”

And he did. As a freshman, Northcutt consistently shot in the 280s, but in the past few months, his improvement has accelerated like never before.

“This year, I really broke out of that plateau,” Northcutt said. “For me, that was really hard. It took me about a year to get past that level and be very purposeful with every practice and every arrow.”

The archers pose for a team photo inside the Mountain America Center. Photo courtesy of the McCallum Archery Team.
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 Photos courtesy of Adrian Johnson and the McCallum archery team and its parents.

Northcutt shot a 293 and placed first out of 2,210 boys at the state-qualifying tournament in January, which gave him confidence that he had a real chance to place first individually come state. Sophomore Diego Custard didn’t trail far behind, shooting a 287 and placing ninth. Both felt they had a fair shot at placing first at the actual state tournament.

“We’ve been best friends for years,” Northcutt said. “We don’t talk about it, but we strive to beat each other. But it’s very friendly.”
Northcutt shot a 285 at state, placing him 19th out of 1796 boys. Custard shot a 281, placing him 39th.

While neither he nor his best friend got the results they wanted at State, Northcutt kept his expectations high for Nationals. He believed he could place first, and he hoped his team would place in the top 10 out of 36. When April 28 finally rolled around in Sandy, Utah, Northcutt shot a 289 to place seventh out of 344 high school boys and 12th overall out of 925 boys. He was the top sophomore boy at the event. The team scored 3126 to placed 18th out of 36. Northcutt sees this year’s trip as a starting point for the rest of his high school career and beyond.

“I still got two more years left of high school,” Northcutt said. “I don’t know how good I‘m gonna get.”


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