DCHS alum finds success in college archery
Just a few months ago, former DCHS student and current Emmanuel College student Madalyn Hardegree had never touched a bow and arrow in her life.
Two weekends ago, she competed in the USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals in Chula Vista, Calif., finishing second in the mixed team barebow competition with partner Preston Dyer.
So how did this all happen so fast?
“I walked into the archery range with a friend and the coach gave me a bow,” Hardegree said. “They offered me a scholarship…they just needed someone on the team.”
But if her entry into the world of archery was by chance, she went directly to work on the fundamentals, learning as much about herself as the sport itself.
Just two weeks before the team’s first indoor competition, Hardegree discovered she had left-eye dominant and had to completely recalibrate her form on that side of her body.
At the Outdoor Nationals in California, she found that temperature and weather had an effect on aiming. While her individual rounds were hampered by these conditions, she made adjustments to improve her aim during the team competition.
After only training for a month during the fall semester, Hardegree worked constantly with coach John Winchester in the spring to train both her archery skills and her physical fitness. general.
Hardegree earned their spot at the national competition after a strong performance at a regional meet hosted by Georgia State, beating archers who had been competing for years.
“I was a little surprised because I didn’t think I was available to go to California,” Hardegree said. “I got first place out of three [at the GSU meet].”
Although the regional competition only had a few competitors, the Nationals were a different story. Hardegree and Dyer were one of 16 mixed barebow teams to compete.
The pair arrived as the No.9 seed but showed no fear against the top-seeded sides. They started by rallying to defeat California State-Long Beach in the first round before winning against the University of the Cumberlands and Mount Marty University.
“It was a bit daunting because I just started the sport…and now I’m on national TV and live,” Hardegree said. “I have never been in such a spotlight. I had people from three different churches watching and everyone at home was watching.
Despite falling to the University of California at Irvine in the final, Hardegree has ambitious plans for next season, aiming to win the individual barebow title.
By obtaining a higher scholarship for the next school year, she will be able to invest in her own bow and become even more familiar with her sport.
And through this rapid entry into archery, her mother watched proudly.
“This girl just amazed me,” said Donnia Hardegree. “If she can accomplish what she’s been doing for the past three to six months, imagine what she can do. [in the future].”
For Madalyn, a Christian Ministries major at Emmanuel, she is grateful for her opportunity and is motivated by her faith to continue on the path she is on.
And she is acutely aware of the surrealism of her experience.
“I really think God provided a way for me to get through college,” Hardegree said. “Last year I was showing goats and cows, and three months later I was like, ‘OK, let’s have a bow’.”