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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Who can stop the University of the Cumberlands as they defend their team title at the USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals in Ga. toward the end of May?
With registration now open for the May 18-21 event at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, the question is whether Cumberlands can retain the Overall National Team Championship Award, which they won for the first time in school history at Chula Vista, Calif. last year.
Since then, Kris Strebek’s team has collected a fifth successive USA Archery 3D Nationals title, which they achieved in Foley, Ala. last October, and more recently edged Texas A&M University for the USA Archery Collegiate Indoor Nationals crown.
Despite their winning streak, Cumberlands’ head coach Strebek said, “We have our school names on the back of our jersey, and [I tell my team] you have a target on your back every tournament.
“It’s one of the things that we drive into our kids, you just can’t show up and win; you’re going to have to earn it.”
The depth of talent now within the collegiate ranks is highlighted by the likes of Olympian Casey Kaufhold, Alex Gilliam, Sawyer Sullivan, Ethan Merrill (all Texas A&M University), Madison Cox and Marissa Harding (both University of the Cumberlands), all of whom competed at the Indoor Nationals Final in Louisville this month.
“You’re seeing that caliber of athlete come through college,” explained Strebek. “And you’re seeing it on numerous levels, not just in open or not just in recurve, you’re seeing it all the way across, so I think it’s putting a new emphasis on college, in that these kids can still be elite athletes and get an education at the same time.”
Cassy Pelton is archery coach at Georgia Southern University (pictured above). She outlined what archers can begin to look forward to, "The Shooting Sports Education Center (SSEC) is a state-of-the-art shooting sports facility located on our beautiful campus. We are staffed by the very students we serve every single day.
"Our full-time staff have many years of experience participating in and managing the shooting sports from the youth level all the way to Olympic competition.
"Archers can expect a high-quality event, in a fantastic space, hosted by a team passionate about the sport. They can also expect quite a bit of sunshine and Southern hospitality!"
While we can expect Southern hospitality, Cassy adds that they anticipate top quality competition. "As a former collegiate athlete and a current collegiate coach, I am distinctly honored to welcome you all to our beautiful campus," she said.
"We look forward to witnessing all our athletes reach new heights, push their personal and professional boundaries and excel both on and off the field. Train hard and we look forward to seeing you all in May."