This year's Pennsylvania College of Technology archery team has come a long way in a short time and now, just 2 1/2 months since their first meet and with only three competitions under their belts, the Wildcats are set to step onto the national stage at the U.S. Intercollegiate Championships. Competition is scheduled for Friday through next Sunday in Long Beach, Calif.
"I'm very happy with the way the season has turned out. We had a lot of new faces but we had a lot of returning All-Americans, so the season has gone pretty well for a short season," coach Chad Karstetter said.
In addition to the short season his archers have had, Karstetter only rejoined the team in mid-January himself, having been away from the program for two seasons after serving 11 years as the coach.
"You don't realize how much you miss being a coach until you don't do it for a couple of years and you come back. I really like working with college-level archers. It seems like we just got started and here we are at nationals already," the coach continued.
Last year at nationals, four Penn College archers earned All-American status. They were senior Kelvin Dewalt, of Easton; and juniors Kendel Baier, of Jersey Shore; Nicole Lapinski, of Bloomsburg; and Justus Leimbach, of Westminster, Md.
Lapinski is a two-time All-American and Baier is the reigning female bowhunter national individual champion and was a member of the winning mixed and women's bowhunter teams at nationals in 2013 when the team placed third after three consecutive second-place finishes from 2010-12.
Other returning archers who have continued to play an important role this year are junior Matt Cummings, of Mountville; senior Ashley Baker, of Coudersport; sophomore Gregg Foust, of Murrysville; junior Stephen Keys, of Reynoldsville; and sophomore Max Trainor, of Hawley.
Penn College teams at nationals are expected to consist of:
Female compound - Baker, Lapinski and freshman Abigail Hricko, of Nicholson.
Male compound - Leimbach, Cummings, sophomore Markus Weber, of La Plata, Md., and freshman Cody Wolfe, of Tioga.
Mixed team compound - Lapinski-Leimbach
Female recurve - Freshmen Julie Carr, of Souderton; Pam Hartman, of Harrisburg; and Alana Androvette, of Williamsport.
Male recurve - Trainor, Foust and Keys.
Wildcat archers will travel to California on Wednesday, do some sightseeing and have opening ceremonies and practice Thursday. The first half of qualifying (72 arrows) is set for Friday with the second half of qualifying (72 arrows) and team rounds on Saturday. Action concludes next Sunday with individual elimination rounds and an awards banquet afterward. More than 300 archers will participate.
"A lot of the new archers very seldom leave the county, let alone the state. They are excited to go to California. They are very dedicated and put a lot of time in at the practice range. Things are finally starting to turn around for them where they are shooting strong enough that they are going to be competitive at nationals," Karstetter said.
"Any time you travel out of your environment you eat a little bit different, sleep a little different; you're a little more excited. As long as when they draw back their first arrow everything comes together and they remember what they've been practicing the last 2 1/2 months with their form and technique - keep their head in the game - they're going to do very well," the coach added.