Each year has its unique angle on a season.
The Simon Kenton archery teams practiced Monday night then will head to Bowling Green’s Ephram White Gymnasium without a key member. They’ve spent the season honoring his memory.
Reuben Hinsdale would have been a senior this year. But as school was getting ready to start, he died in a freak accident while riding in a car with two other teens.
His best friend is on the team in senior Logan Hopper. Hopper quit archery after his eighth grade year to do other things. The two did a lot of events with Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). Hinsdale was a cadet captain.
“Our deal was that he was going to do a sport within Jr. ROTC and I would come back and do archery,” Hopper said. “I was able to fulfill my end and help my second mom (Simon Kenton assistant coach Vanessa Hinsdale) cope by doing archery this year. I’m also shooting with his bow. I feel like he’d be proud.”
Coach Hinsdale stayed with the team despite the tragedy. She’s noted the team has made the best of a tough situation.
“A lot of these kids I have been with since they were in elementary school,” Hinsdale said. “I was their coach in elementary school. I moved up to high school before them and they’re here. A lot of them asked, ‘Are you going to be here still? A lot of them are seniors and asked if I would be there to help them. It’s actually been good for me to be with these kids. Our archery community has been good to us and have been really good at least for me. It’s kind of nice to be able to experience these last weeks with them even through we miss Ruben a lot. He was definitely the energy and the entertainment on this team. We feel it almost every day.”
The top two teams from the 11 regions and top three on each team that did not place in the top two in region made it to state. The Simon Kenton girls won the Region 6 title with 1,955 points and Ryle took second with 1,939. The Ryle boys won Region 6 with 2,006 points and Simon Kenton took second with 1,942. There are a total of five seniors combined between the two Simon Kenton teams.
“They’ve clearly battled through adversity and some of these kids have improved drastically throughout the school year and have become leaders on this team,” said Larry Rogers, Simon Kenton head coach. “They’re a young group of kids that are becoming very important in our success along with the kids that have been with us for years.”
Twelve archers per team partake in events. Each archer shoots six rounds – three at 10 meters and three at 15 meters. Archers shoot five arrows per round for a total of 30.
A 300 is a perfect score. But Rogers said those, even 290 scores and above have been rare this year. Senior Logan Sizemore shot 295 for a team-best this year over the weekend at the Top Shots Event at Scott County High School.
“There’s an 11-step process. You have to go through each one of those individual steps from their stance to their release,” Rogers said. “It really takes focus on each one of those individual steps. As long as they’re on each one of those individual steps, they will see the results long range on many targets. We are constantly trying to get them to follow their steps and really pay attention to each individual minute step. Even each individual step has adjustments that can be made. There’s a lot more to it than just drawing and releasing an arrow.”
Sophomore Lauren Lauren Westermeyer finished third in the Region 6 girls meet shooting 287. Kilee Spegal took sixth with 285 with Emma Vicars and Macie Smith tying for 10th to finish in the top 15 for Simon Kenton.
“If I’m being honest, I really show up for those two tournaments. Those are my thing,” Westermeyer said. “I haven’t had the best year. But for those two tournaments, I don’t really focus on winning. I focus more on having fun and experiencing it because this will be the last tournament for the seniors. I try to make it enjoyable. When you make it enjoyable, you’ll do better because you’re not stressing as much.”
Gavin Hammons placed ninth to lead Simon Kenton at region with 287 points. Sizemore tied for 11th with 285. Rogers said the goal has been to do the best as possible with everything the teams have gone through this year.
“We have high hopes, especially with our girls numbers, that we can do something impressive at state,” Rogers said. “I think we still have that opportunity. We’ve brought some kids up to shoot for the boys. I truly believe if everyone is on their game (Tuesday) that we can have some real success. They have held that confidence in themselves. But we have the confidence they can do it.”
The Simon Kenton boys placed fourth with 1,974 points last year at the state tournament and the girls took 17th with 1,912 points. Vicars tied for sixth with 291 points at state for the Pioneers.
“They’ve done a great job promoting archery within Simon Kenton,” said Troy Roberts, Simon Kenton Director of Athletics. “I know they get a lot of students out. I’m sure they have one of the larger rosters in northern Kentucky for sure.”
The first flight of the state tournament is 8:30 a.m. Central Standard Time. The Simon Kenton and Ryle boys start 11 a.m. and the girls teams go at 12:15 p.m. CST.
The Simon Kenton girls have enjoyed success in this tournament. They won it in 2018 and finished runner-up two years ago.