As far as Las Vegas archers are concerned, Fallon’s Cody Sponsler is a straight shooter.
A very good shooter indeed.
The Churchill County High School senior scored 285 points out of 300 to lead Fallon to its third state title in four years during last month’s competition against Las Vegas schools in a meet sponsored by the National Archery in Schools Program. Sponsler also finished as the meet’s top archer. Shelbi Schultz shot 275 to place second for high-school girls and third overall. Darby Cecil came in fourth for high-school girls.
Coach Dean Schultz, a CCHS physical education instructor who moved to Fallon more than 20 years ago from Tonopah, has been involved with the sport for almost four decades. In addition to Fallon’s top two archers, he said the following scores enabled Fallon to claim the title: Josh Evans, 275; Broder Thurston, 269; Faith Cornmesser, 265; Mathew Sorensen, 260; Adrian Martinez, 251; Will Swisher, 245; Ben Bake, 237; and Sawyer Gregersen, 219.
Only the top 12 competitors from a team of 24 count their scores as Fallon topped more than a dozen teams from Las Vegas, which piloted archery years ago, and 500 opponents.
“We won by a large margin,” Schultz said. “Our individual kids stepped up and shot spectacularly.”
Those students unable to travel to Las Vegas took part in a virtual shoot that allows them to compete at their home school by using the same criteria as those archers shooting in person.
With Sponsler and Evans finishing in the top five, the Fallon coach said this was one of Fallon’s better years where may students shot well. Sponsler, though, is modest about his achievements against some of the best archers in the state.
“It’s really tough competition,” Sponsler said, citing the number of students who competed last month. “I did get nervous with so many people.”
Shooting with a traditional bow and arrow comes naturally for Sponsler, who has been aiming at targets since he was 4 years old. The Fallon senior, though, credits his father for mentoring him in the sport and for passing down numerous pointers. Sponsler said his father is an avid bow hunter, and during the previous years, he has taken his son with him during many occasions to practice his shooting and techniques.
“Mostly, it’s something I can do with my dad,” Sponsler said, “and obviously for my school.”
Although he didn’t place at the top in 2017, he competed in the World Archery Trade Show and finished 98th out of 4,000 archers. As a sophomore, Sponsler led Fallon to a Nevada championship in 2016 when he garnered the highest score, 287.
Shelbi Schultz and Faith Cornmesser, who both played for the Lady Wave’s state championship basketball team, had an intense February with the two sports. Schultz, a junior, said the reward is gratifying not only for her but Cornmesser.
“It feels pretty good,” she said of the state titles. “We can come from a small town and compete against Las Vegas.”
Schutz’s dedication to both the classroom and archery has balanced well for her.
“I’ve been building myself up as an archer since I started in fourth grade,” she said.
Schultz said it takes years to become proficient, and that’s due to repetition of shots. She learned to bow hunt with her family and started competing in a club.
According to Schultz, it begins with the person and then with the team.
“It built from there,” she added. “It takes a lot of focus and work on the team. We need 12 to 13 people there for the same purpose.”
Coach Shultz said the team continually improves, but snaring multiple state titles is beyond his expectations. Fallon has never finished lower than third during Schultz’s tenure. He said young and experienced archers from both high school and middle school mesh well together, and as the results show, the archers also have also developed a knack for knocking off their Southern Nevada competition.