Two local high school students — Ashley Rose and Chad Leigh — will be heading out to California this month – but not for a vacation.

The two archers will be traveling to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., July 16, where they will tour the facility and work with the national archery coach Kisik Lee.

Lee watched Rose and Leigh at the National Archery in Schools Program’s National Championship that was held in March in Louisville. At this year’s championship Rose, who was a two-time archery national champion, finished as runner-up, while Leigh was also national runner-up.

“He (coach Lee) was obviously observing the national competition in general and I think these two athletes caught his eye,” said Pulaski archery coach Gail Begley who teaches at Northern Middle School.

Begley said when coach Lee came to watch the national championships he was already aware of Rose, but Leigh was their “sleeper” as he gained attention.

While there Begley said she believes that most likely both Rose and Leigh will have a recurve bow put in their hands for the first time. In the Olympics athletes use a recurve bow, while in the school program they shoot with a Genesis bow.

“I think that definitely will be a positive,” said Begley.

Almost since the start Rose has been drawing attention as a sharpshooter. She began archery in seventh-grade and by eighth-grade she was a national champion.

“Both her dad and I are surprised she found something she is so good at — at such a young age,” said Elizabeth Rose. “She is amazing.”

However, not only has she been a major force on the archery scene, she is a part of the Texas Community Shooting Club that often garners state and national recognition.

Because of garnering attention as a sharpshooter in air rifle and small bore, Rose has already been able to train at the Olympic training level as she was able to travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., in March to train at one of the three Olympic training centers in the United States.

Just in the past month Rose has competed in three competitions with the shooting club which is coached by Jimmy Wheeldon. They traveled to Fort Benning, Ga., for a competition and to Bowling Green for two competitions.

Rose said in Fort Benning one of the most exciting parts of the competition was standing on the line with Olympic champion Emily Curso and shooting with her.

While at the Fort Benning competition, Rose finished 33 out of 120 to 130 shooters. She also finished 47th in small bore and first in her class in air rifle.

The team then traveled to the National Guard Bureau Competition in Bowling Green that was only for the elite (top 10 teams in the nation). There the club placed fourth and Rose won the competition.

At the most recent tournament, the International JC tournament, Rose placed sixth.

“I’m excited about the whole trip,” said Rose of going to California to train for a week.

She said at first it was kind of hard to believe, but at this point it has sunk in that she is going.

“Now I’m ready to go out there and see what it’s like,” said Rose.

As for Leigh, he has a hard time fathoming the fact that he will be going to the Olympic training center.

“I can’t believe it!” said Leigh. “The only dream I had was to set foot on a podium (at the National Archery in Schools Program’s National Championship).

He added that he didn’t know what coach Lee saw, while watching him, but hopes he keeps seeing it in California.

Although both the star athletes started shooting to be with their friends, they both now have high hopes for the future.

Leigh said he hopes to make it to the Olympics one day and then come back to Pulaski County and try to get others interested in the program.

“I hope to go as far as I can,” said Rose. “I don’t know how far it is, but I’m going to push it to the limit.”

Ashley added, even when she hasn’t won, all the practicing is worthwhile. She said this past year she wasn’t able to defend her title as national champion, but she was able to see Kennedy McAlpin win and that was great.

She also believes that by not winning this year it will only strive to make her better.

And for both Begley and Northern Middle School Principal Angela Murphy this program, which was started in 2002, has already exceeded both their goals by giving these two this opportunity as well as the amount of participation they get in the program.

Northern Middle School began the program as a pilot program in the state and according to Murphy “the response has been phenomenal.” This year there were 125 in the Pulaski County School System who took part in the program.

Murphy added that the nice thing about archery is that there is no limitations and anyone can shoot.

“Now to have an Olympic opportunity — ‘wow,’” said Murphy. “When you start a program you always have lofty dreams, but I think this Olympic opportunity has already exceeded the goals.”

As for coach Begley she hopes this is only the beginning for her two star athletes.

“Hopefully, through this they’ll be picked for the 2012 dream team,” said Begley.

Currently the archery team practices before school five days a week and Wednesday and Saturday afternoons from September to March during season and often continues after that.

The National Archery in the Schools Program was piloted in 22 Kentucky schools in 2002, including Northern and Southern Middle Schools as a cooperative effort between the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rose is the daughter of Denver and Elizabeth Rose, and Leigh is the son of Mark and Angela Leigh.

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