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Lyon signs first-ever Arkansas collegiate archers

Lyon College has signed its first three students for the new archery program, making Spencer Rhoden, Preston Linville and Havana Santis the first-ever Arkansas collegiate archers.

Head Coach Travis Linville, who is also the state coordinator for the USA Archery program, said Lyon is the first and only Arkansas college to offer archery as a sport and to provide scholarships for archery.

Linville said each Lyon Archery team member will have certifications to coach in both the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and the USA Archery program.

“Along with competing against collegiate archers at the state and national levels, Lyon archers will host tournaments where they will officiate and train future archers,” he said. 

Linville has secured Lyon College as the 3-D Archery Host of the Arkansas State Competition.

Director of Affinity Mentoring Tommy Newton said Lyon researched archery programs and spoke with an array of local experts before officially forming a team. 

“When we met Travis, we knew we had the right person to help make Lyon College synonymous with archery in the state of Arkansas!”

Newton continued, “Linville is a U.S. Army veteran who combines archery know-how with an indefatigable work ethic.”

“Signing our first three student athletes means that these students will get a great education,” Newton said, “and bragging rights for being collegiate archers with scholarships.”

“We’re going to be competitive right out the gate because of the level of archers these three are,” Linville said. “It’s an excellent program.”

Rhoden said continuing archery in college has been a dream of his.

“To sign with a college team was just amazing for me!”

Rhoden, of Alexander, first got interested in archery at a summer camp in sixth grade, and the camp staff encouraged him to join a team. He couldn’t find one in his area, so he ended up starting an archery team at his middle school and later at his high school, too.

“That team grew from about 10 to 15 archers to having over 200 students try out over just four years,” Rhoden said. 

“I personally love archery because, for me, I fall into a zone of focus when I shoot that’s very relaxing and in general really fun!”

Preston Linville, of Bryant, got involved after attending an Arkansas Game and Fish archery event in sixth grade.

“I love how it’s competitive and you can have fun doing it.”

He is looking forward to continuing archery in college.

“It feels exhilarating to sign with Lyon. I was just doing archery for fun at first, but now it has helped me with college.”

Preston Linville continued, “I’m looking forward to having fun with my teammates, competing and seeing where it takes me.”

Santis, of Hensley, became involved with archery through Southwest Christian Academy. 

“Teachers and students there have a passion for pursuing success in archery tournaments,” she said. “My favorite thing about archery is that it gives me the ability to compete and make new relationships.”

Santis said signing to compete at a collegiate level made her feel “very accomplished.”

“I am excited to grow as a person and an archer. I am looking forward to having many learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom.”

She continued, “I feel very prepared to grow mentally and socially while at Lyon College. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been presented with, and I will try my best to use them wisely.”

Rhoden agreed, saying he is looking forward to learning and growing at Lyon.

“I have already met some of the amazing people at Lyon and am really looking forward to meeting more amazing people over the next four years.”