Seven years ago, Raegan Bender visited Full Draw Archery near her house, and she says she hasn’t really left.
“When I’m not practicing or traveling, I’m at school or working,” the Millard North senior-to-be said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
All those hours with her Mathews TRX 38 compound bow have paid off. Bender will represent the United States at the youth world tournament in Spain in August after finishing third overall at the youth trials in California last weekend.
This weekend, she’s in Valdosta, Georgia, for an archery camp, and then she will head to a Junior Olympic Archery Development outdoor target nationals tournament in North Carolina.
Although she’s already made the elite traveling team, which competes internationally, everything is about getting to the next level. She’s hoping to continue to make United States teams as she grows older.
It’s been a crazy month of traveling in June, but it’s all helping her improve.
“I wanted to be able to better my shooting process and also improve my mental side of it,” Bender said. “Archery is 99 percent mental.”
Bender said she practices every day and also works part time at Full Draw, where owners Kent and Deb Colgrove and other participants have become family. She also trains long distance with coach Linda Beck from Minnesota.
Bender first used a bow at a horse camp and liked it, prompting that initial visit to Full Draw Archery. She loves teaching, too, and knows those youngsters are watching her progress.
“I want to be able to inspire the kids at Full Draw,” she said. “Hey, you can do this if you keep practicing and have fun with this.”
Bender’s focus on archery has also secured her some college offers. Union and Lindsey Wilson Colleges and University of the Cumberlands — all in Kentucky — are among many that have offered scholarships for scholastic 3D archery.
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Name: Chris Taylor, Fremont. Species: Largemouth bass. Where: Private lake in Fremont. Size: 21 inches. Noteworthy: The 10-year-old caught the Master Angler fish using purple spinner bait.
Name: Tom Boyer, Omaha, with grandfather Jeff Carney Species: Blue catfish Where: Sandpit Lake near Ashland, Nebraska Size: 45 inches Noteworthy: This isn’t the first big catfish Tom has caught, but he earned his first Master Angler certificate. In the past, the 7-year-old wasn’t able to reel the fish all the way in on his own. This time he did, although he did take three rest breaks.
Name: Dylan Clark, Omaha. Species: Spoonbill. Where: Lake of the Ozarks with grandpa Butch Clark and friend Brian Hinenan. Size: 52 pounds. Noteworthy: This was Dylan’s biggest catch ever.
Name: Bob Story, at left, Central City Species: Channel catfish Where: Loup Canal in Platte County Size: 26.5 pounds Noteworthy: The 75-year-old landed the fish with some help from friends. Despite a severe fish kill a few years ago and March flood damage in the upper canal in March, the fishing in the lower half has been good this summer.
Name: Maezlyn Witherbee-Alef, Bennington Species: White crappie Where: Lake near Plattsmouth Size: ¾ of a pound Noteworthy: It was the 4-year-old’s first crappie. She is pictured with her grandfather, Mark Witherbee.
Name: Nate Ruffino. Species: Muskie. Where: Eagle Lake Sportsmen’s Lodge in Ontario, Canada. Size: 40 pounds, 50 inches. Noteworthy: Ruffino was casting on the dock when a 25-inch northen pike hit his bait. While reaching for his net the muskie came out and grabbed the pike. It took three people to net the fish and hoist him into the boat. Nate was fishing with his father, Tom Ruffino, and friends Frank and Andy Tworek, Ron Schmidt and Frank Mason.
Name: Hunter Redfern, Elkhorn.
Where: Stanton, Nebraska.
Noteworthy: The 9-year-old was hunting with his dad, John, at his Gram’s farm when he shot this cottontail rabbit. It was Hunter’s first animal harvested with a .22 rifle.
Name: Claudia Riggert, Pierce, Nebraska.
Where: Pierce County. Size: 4x4.
Noteworthy: The 11-year-old killed her first deer from 217 yards with her .243.
Name: L.D. “Spike” Gross, Fremont.
Where: Lake Michigan out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Noteworthy: The fish was caught on flash bait from the deck of the Top Banana, a charter boat. The captain was Patrick Vesser.
Name: Jay Wiederholt, with children Mara and Max.
Species: Largemouth bass.
Where: Neighborhood pond in Sedalia, Missouri.
Noteworthy: Jay is a dedicated golfer. His brother-in-law, Bob, offered to take him fishing via golf cart. Several bass were caught and released.
Species: White-tailed deer
Where: North of Loup River in Howard County
Size: 11x8 points. Brow tines 9 inches
Noteworthy: Henk said this is his biggest trophy. It appeared out of a tree-lined draw just 15 minutes after he got in his stand at 2 p.m. He shot it from 150 yards.
Name: John Beeson, Omaha Species: Deer Where: Otoe County southwest of Palmyra Size: 4x4 Noteworthy: The UNK senior killed the deer with one shot from 80 yards with a Savage .270 rifle. It’s the third deer of his hunting career.
Noteworthy: The 93-year-old has caught virtually all varieties of trout over the years but never the hybrid tiger trout. It was a goal of his before he quit fishing. He caught two that day.
Name: Derek Rutherford, Omaha.
Where: Private lake near Valley.
Noteworthy: After several nibbles and lots of patience, Derek landed the biggest fish he’s ever caught. It was released.
Name: Emmett Golda, La Vista
Species: Bass Size: 3 pounds
Where: Halleck Lake in Papillion
Noteworthy: Moments after dropping his line in the water, the 3-year-old needed a little assistance from grandpa Keith Bonner to reel in this fish caught with a bait worm. It was his first time fishing. His parents are Luke and Kay Golda.
Name: Klaus Brotzki, Omaha.
Where: Private lake in north central Missouri.
Noteworthy: It was caught in 12 feet of water using a chartreuse and white chatterbait. It was weighed and released.
Where: Saunders County sandpit lake
Noteworthy: The fish qualifies for Nebraska Game and Parks' Master Angler recognition. This is the second big catfish Grant has caught with his grandfather, Jeff Carney. Once the fish was released, he turned to his dad, Ben, and said: "This never gets old!"
Species: 15½-inch crappie
Note: The 6-year-old caught the Master Angler fish on an outing with his family. He used a minnow as bait.
Name: Bridget White, Springfield, Nebraska
Where: Off the coast of Cancun in the Caribbean
Noteworthy: Bridget and Phil White caught six trigger fish and one white and one red snapper while out on a fishing charter.
Species: Bluegill and crappie
Ben Zupan also was on his first ice fishing outing, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission event at Lake Wanahoo. Game and Parks provided gear and bait and even drilled the holes. The 16-year-old caught 15 fish, and grandpa Patrick McPherson caught four.
“Over the last 12 years I’ve enjoyed teaching him how to fish,’’ McPherson said. “He’s become an extremely good fisherman who loves the outdoors and can’t wait to go fishing. And, he’s a better and smarter fisherman than his grandpa. Don’t tell him that.”
Name: Jamison Childers, Omaha
Where: Douglas County private pond
It was priceless, Paul Childers said, to see the smile on grandson Jamison’s face when he pulled in his prize on the youngster’s first ice fishing trip.
“Seeing him sitting in his chair and all of a sudden hearing, ‘Papa, I got one.’ All I did was put a few fingers underneath the pole and he reeled them in,’’ Childers said.
The 6-year-old caught a 17-inch and a 19-inch bass on a private pond in Douglas County. Childers caught a 21-incher.
This past July, the 8-year-old caught a pike at Lake of the Woods in Canada.
Name: Becky Connolly with guide Dean Roy, who is holding the fish. Husband Dan is to the left.
Size: 47-¼ inches, about 37 pounds
Noteworthy: The fish was caught on a jig and nightcrawler while fishing for walleye with a 6-pound line and a light-action rod. It was released unharmed.
Name: Don Paltani and grandson Wyatt, Bellevue
Noteworthy: Paltani said it was a proud moment. Wyatt helped out with everything in taking care of the deer. “It is a moment to not be forgotten,” Paltani said. “We look forward to more proud moments like this one when Wyatt comes of age to hunt.”
Name: Clay Gathye, Gretna, and grandpa Larry Gathye, Omaha
Where: Pine Ridge in western Nebraska
Noteworthy: The 10-year-old shot his first deer on opening day using his grandpa’s .308 rifle.
Name: Charlie Loofe, Elkhorn
Where: Buckskin Lake near Newcastle, Nebraska
Noteworthy: The 10-year old was fishing with grandfather Mike Loofe of Wakefield.
Name: Michael Marcuzzo, Omaha
Species: Flathead catfish
Size: 25 pounds, 39 inches
Noteworthy: Marcuzzo was fishing with a friend at a local park when he caught this master angler with a bluegill. The fish was released.
Name: Truman Stickland, Red Oak, Iowa
Where: Viking Lake in southwest Iowa
Noteworthy: Truman and brother Bennett caught some small fish, then Truman reeled in this one. Mom wasn’t impressed, but Truman insisted he take it home. They then checked with Todd Carrick of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, who said it was a master angler catch.
Name: Jeff Schindler, Valley
Noteworthy: Jeff was fishing with dad Ron and brothers Brad and Rod. As he was reeling in a rock fish, this monster latched on. The quick-thinking captain gaffed it before it let go. Both fish were landed in the boat.
Name: Jack Taylor, Bellevue
Where: Private pond in Sarpy County
Noteworthy: He was fishing with his father, Aaron Taylor, and Jerry Lovell.
Name: Doug Mellema, Kansas City, Missouri
Where: Smithville Lake, Missouri
Noteworthy: The fish was caught on the second cast of the morning, using a Rapala Fat Rap, firetiger color. It was netted by Doug’s father, Warren Mellema of Omaha.
Name: Dean Cowles, Plattsmouth
Noteworthy: Dean, 92, was fishing for trout when he caught this koi.
Name: Davis Koile, Valley
Noteworthy: The 7-year-old used a green pumpkin worm with a chartreuse tip rigged wacky style on a drop shot rig. The fish, which weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces, was his first master angler bass. This catch made him “want to get even bigger ones.”
Name: Andrue Hackendahl, Elkhorn
Where: Lawrence Youngman Lake
Size: Just over 10 inches
Noteworthy: The 9-year-old thought another little fish was stealing his night crawler. It was released.
Name: Ainsley Anderson, Omaha
Where: Lake Pokegama in Minnesota
Noteworthy: The 11-year-old used a Silver Wally Diver to catch the 9-pound fish, which was her second master angler walleye.
Name: Hayden Anibal, Bennington
Where: Sandpit lake near Schuyler
Noteworthy: The 11-year-old used a night crawler to nab her master angler fish.
Name: Emma Anibal, Bennington
Where: Sandpit lake near Schuyler
Noteworthy: The 12-year-old used a night crawler to catch the bass.
Name: Carter Cushing, Gretna
Noteworthy: The 14-year-old was fishing with his family, including sister Avery. The catfish put up a good fight and was released.
Name: Erik Hultquist, Omaha
Where: Fraser River, Tabernash, Colorado
Noteworthy: The 14-year-old was fly-fishing for the first time on a river.
Name: Gary Jacobsen, Omaha
Where: Kenai River in Alaska
Noteworthy: He was fishing with son Chris of Tekamah, Rick Beane of Minnesota and Dan and Eric Jensen of Kenai.
Name: Frankie Jordan, Omaha
Where: East Silent Lake, Minnesota
Size: 4 1⁄2 pounds, 19 inches
Name: Mitch Stanley, Elkhorn
Where: Boy Lake, Longville, Minnesota
Size: 5-1⁄4 pounds, 21-1⁄2 inches long
Noteworthy: Mitch was fishing with his grandfather, Gary Lortz. He caught the master angler fish with a leech. The fish was released.
Name: John Swinarski, Omaha Species: Whitetail deer Where: Sarpy County Size: 7-pointer Noteworthy: Swinarski wants to thank the farmers and landowners who allow hunters on their land. “Really appreciate it,’’ he said. “We are always looking for more hunting land.’’
Names: Cooper and R.J. Hladik, Sedalia, Missouri
Species: Largemouth bass Where: neighborhood pond in Sedalia
Noteworthy: The boys also caught dozens of scrappy bluegills that were about 10 inches. They used hot dog bites and worms to catch green sunfish, too. All were released.
Couy, Reece and Nick French with a 113 1/4 pound blue catfish. It was 5-foot-1 inches tall with a girth of 3 feet 11 inches.
Name: Doug Finnicum, Omaha Species: Largemouth bass
Where: Douglas County private lake Size: 4 to 6 pounds
Noteworthy: It was his largest bass from this lake.
Name: John Schulte, Omaha Species: Pheasant Where: Public land near Columbus Noteworthy: The 13-year-old used his 20 gauge shotgun to kill his first rooster during the youth pheasant opener. He was hunting with springers Ruby, who flushed the wild rooster out of a plum thicket, and Camo, who retrieved it.
Drake Clements got a 16-point buck on the first day of the firearm deer season. It was the 11-year-old’s first buck.
Name: Kevin Marr, Omaha Species: Wiper Where: Lake Manawa
Size: About 8 pounds, 3⁄4 inches Noteworthy: Marr fishes at the lake every Monday. This time it was cold and windy, but he persevered on the fourth cast. It took about 17 minutes to bring the fish in.
Name: Michael Bebout Species:Whitetail deer Where: Johnson County by Sterling on his grandmother’s land. Size: 5x5 Noteworthy:Michael shot this 3 1/2 year old deer at 160 yards with a Browning .270. It is his biggest buck so far. This buck was so well hidden in the timber that, after shot, they walked within 2 foot of the deer and couldn’t see him. Michael found him.