Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 9, 2013

Vying for titles

Newly sanctioned sports are getting more teens involved

The Independent

ASHLAND — Many high school students who may have never thought of themselves as competitive athletes are vying for individual awards, school pride and state titles by participating in the newly sanctioned sports by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. As a result, more teenagers than ever are discovering the sense of self-satisfaction that comes from striving to do one’s best, vying for school and community pride, and giving students, parents, grandparents, alumni and long-time fans new reasons to cheer for their favorite school.

In the last two years, the KHSAA has added archery, bowling, bass fishing and competitive cheerleading to its list of sanctioned sports and, with the notable exception of bowling, all have drawn interest from area high schools.

In archery, Ashland Paul Blazer, Boyd County, Russell, West Carter, East Carter, Fairview and Elliott County high schools all had archery teams this year, the KHSAA reports. While none of the local schools did particularly well in regional competition won by Prestonsburg High School, we’re confident that most of the local schools found this first year of competition a learning experience that will serve them well in the years to come.

Boyd County High School is one of a few area high schools planning to compete in bass fishing later this spring.

The top four bass teams from a region that includes Bath, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Floyd, Greenup, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Rowan and Wolfe counties will advance to the state bass fishing competition on April 25 through 28 at the Land Between the Lakes, with Murray State University serving as host.

Melvin Lawhorn, 51, an experienced bass fisherman who set a Yatesville Lake record with 32 pounds and 6 ounces of bass during a fishing tournament in 1998, is the coach of the Boyd bass team.

“I don’t have any kids,” Lawhorn said. “It’s my way of giving back. I look at it this way, it took me 30 years of trial and error to teach myself. I can get these kids and teach them and give them a shortcut.”

The regional fishing meet will be at Yatesville Lake in the spring. Only 12 of Boyd County’s 22-member team can compete in the regional tournament so there is competition within the team. That’s usually a positive as it is an incentive for everyone to improve their skills.

It should surprise no one that a number of area high school cheerleading squads did well in the 2013 state cheer competition, led by Greenup County High School which added a second place in Class 2A the all-girl large competition to its long list of national cheerleading championships. Lexington Paul Laurence Dunbar High School won that class.

Other area school cheer squads excelling in the state competition were East Carter High School, fifth place in the Class 2A all-girl super large category; Paul G. Blazer High School, 14th place in the Class 2A all-girl small competition; Lewis County High School, fifth place in the Class 1A all-girl medium competition, and Elliott County High, first place in the Class 1A co-ed competition.

 Cheerleading squads have been competing against each other in competitions throughout the country for decades, but thanks to the KHSAA, this is the first time there has been competition limited to squads in Kentucky. We see that as a positive in a state where Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky have each won a number of national college titles in cheerleading.

Among the newly sanctioned sports, bowling was the only one in which no area high school was  listed by the KHSAA as having had a team. We not sure why that is, but it may be because there are not many places to bowl in this region. No area bowling center was listed on the KHSAA website as a place where high school teams could practice. 

We hope local high schools field bowling teams in the future. One of the best things about archery, bass fishing and bowling is that they are sports people can enjoy throughout their lives whether as an individual or as a member of a team. 

There is another thing we like about the new KHSAA sports. A teen may not be gifted in basketball, baseball, softball, or other sports that have a higher profile, but kids who are among the best archers or who can catch  the biggest bass can now try to win a state title for their school.