Smithville senior Brandon Blair didn’t always have archery in his college plans, but the right opportunity came up with Mississippi College as he signed with them last Monday.
“Mississippi College is a great school,” Blair said. “I looked at a lot of places, and it was a last-minute decision. I never intended on archery, but Mr. Waldo (Cleland) came to Smithville to talk to me one day and persuaded me.”
Blair has been on the archery team since it began at Smithville four years ago and has been one of their top shooters overall.
In 2017, Blair averaged a meet score of 280, which was tops on his team, and he earned 2,524 points total, which ranked third on the team, despite him missing one meet for an academic scholarship interview.
Blair scored a 283 at the North half tournament to lead Smithville to a third place finish in Class 1A and a 282 at the state tournament, finishing 59th individually out of all male shooters and 91st overall out of all the 5,100 archers.
“Brandon is not just a good archer, but a great kid,” Smithville archery coach Jill Horne said. “As a coach, I feel like Coach Cleland is gaining a major asset to his program. As a teacher, I feel like MC is gaining someone who will be an asset to the student body academically and ethically, as well as athletically.”
Blair said there are several challenges ahead with college archery.
“I have to learn to shoot a whole new different type of bow from what we use in high school,” he said. “I’m going to take the summer working and training with my new bow to be able to complete collegiality.”