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Yankton Archers Perform Well At World Festival

A group of young Yankton archers traveled to Las Vegas recently on the hunt for some strong tournament finishes.

Out of the eight who attended the National Field Archery Association's (NFAA) World Archery Festival earlier this month, four placed in the top 10.

One of them, Kendra Hunhoff, 14, medaled with a second-place finish among 12-14-year-old girls.

“The first day, I got to see what my competition was like,” she said. “I felt kind of nervous, because I was shooting against more girls than I usually do. I was kind of surprised that I placed.”

Approximately 280 youth shooters competed in three age divisions during the international tournament.

While Hunhoff has participated in national competitions before, the World Archery Festival was her first international test. She took the challenge seriously.

“After school, I would come and shoot (at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Complex) for at least two hours. Some days I would shoot five hours,” Hunhoff said. “I had to practice a lot.”

She became interested in archery 1 1/2 years ago during a summer class. A coach suggested that Hunhoff join the Junior Olympic Archery Development Program (JOAD) at the Yankton complex, and she agreed.

Hunhoff soon found that she was drawn to the competitive side of the sport, and with family support has been able to pursue that interest.

“Every second of (doing archery) is very exciting,” she stated. “I've had so many good experiences. I want to stick with archery because I love it. Hopefully, I'll be in the international rankings one day.”

Other Yankton youth that placed at the tournament were Hannah Bartos, 11, with a fifth-place finish; Cedar Bartos, 16, with an eighth-place finish; and Owen Warren, 9, with a 10th-place finish. The remaining competitors were Elliot Cull, Ally Hagen, Gabby Keiser and Brandon Shuey.

Eric Tollefson, the Level 4 National Training System Coach that has been working with the young archers for about the last eight months, said he is quite proud of his students.

“Most of the (students) have been involved with our JOAD Program,” he stated. “Some of them are shooting four or five times a week. Our top archer is probably shooting 150 arrows a day.”

The size of the World Archery Festival and its many distractions unnerved some of his students the first day of the tournament, according to Tollefson. However, many of them improved on the second day.

“We're really pleased with how well they did,” Tollefson said. “We're turning out some really fine archers at this complex.

“We've got a tremendous program here,” he added. “When we tell people we've got 60-plus kids involved in the JOAD program in a town of about 14,000 people, they're always amazed. We're really starting to be recognized not only for the number of archers we're bringing to tournaments but also the quality of our archers.”

Yankton overall was well-represented during the festival, which had more than 1,800 shooters from all 50 states and about 30 countries, according to Bruce Cull, the president of the NFAA.

Cull, a Yankton resident, was accompanied by a handful of community officials, including City Manager Amy Nelson, Mayor Nancy Wenande, City Commissioner Dave Carda and Carmen Schramm of the Chamber of Commerce. The city has had an annual presence at the festival since the NFAA moved its headquarters here. Officials promote Yankton as an archery destination for competitors and businesses.

“Having the city and Chamber there showing their support of what archery is doing in the community was a real plus,” Cull said.