WALNUT • In just two weeks, Walnut archery was supposed to be on their way to the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson for the MHSAA Class 2A State Archery Meet at the Kirk Fordice Equine Center.
Walnut's plans to repeat, following their 2019 Class 2A championship, came to an end after the announcement on Friday, March 20 from the MHSAA to cancel the rest of the archery season due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Archery’s season will be over due to "scheduling and logistical issues," according to an MHSAA press release.
"I think it was the right decision," said Walnut archery coach Brian Quinn. "I believe there was going to be around 3,200 kids shoot over a four-day span at North Half. We are indoors too so everybody was going to all locked up in one place.
"I actually found out on Thursday. I had one person tell me it was just going to postponed. Then, another person told me that it was fully canceled. It left me speechless. I had to turn on ESPN to see how the rest of the world was handling similar situations that we were going through. It's just a sad situation."
It is in indeed a sad situation for all the archers involved but even more so for some seniors. One of those seniors is Quinn's son, Bailey, who was a part of last year's championship team and a state championship cross country team this past season.
"My son is a senior so it hits home," claimed Quinn. "Our team has been separated with the schools out of session. I've had a couple of the kids text me and tell me how upset they are that they can't finish their season. The division with us all being quarantined has kept us from talking too much but I definitely feel bad for our seniors and the rest of the team that has worked so hard this season."
Walnut had as good of a chance as any team for the 2020 crown, returning many of their top archers from last season and showing signs, reminiscent of the previous two seasons. In meets against 43 other teams, Walnut finished ahead of 39 of them and fell short to just four teams. Two teams in larger classifications and new 2A rival Mantachie.
"We hadn't hit the numbers I had set for them yet this season but the past two years we got better as the year went on," stated Quinn. "Our first year we shot our best score at North Half. The second year, we shot our best score at North Half again then topped it at the state championship. This year, our number wasn't where I wanted but I had confidence that we would get there. Mantachie beat us twice this year and they were our direct competition. Each time the matches have been close with them even though we weren't at full strength. It was definitely within our grasp."