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Local archer becomes a world champion

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009

Zack Plannick's introduction to archery was definitely low-tech.

His father, Dale, has long enjoyed 3-D archery shoots. He took Zack along to his first when the youngster was about 7, armed with a toy bow.

"I'd let him get within four or five feet of the target and shoot," said Dale, who lives in Coraopolis with his wife Joanne. "It took off from there."

Did it ever. These days, Zack is a two-time All-American archer at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. He is also a world champion.

Plannick was a member of the three-man compound bow team that won the gold medal at this summer's World University Games -- the collegiate version of the Olympics -- in Serbia. The event, the 25th Games, drew more than 6,300 athletes from 142 countries to compete in a variety of sports.

Plannick and teammates Steven Gatto of Atlantic Cape Community College and Stephen Schwade, of the University of North Carolina beat Serbia, third-ranked Canada, top-ranked Russia and Mexico to win the title.

"We pretty much had to fight for it," Plannick said. "It was awesome. It was probably the best team I was ever on."

Plannick's success didn't surprise his college coach, Chad Karstetter, himself a former All-American.

Succeeding in archery often means being the "one who stands on the line the longest and makes the fewest mistakes," Karstetter said, and Plannick is very consistent.

"He's been good since day 1, and he's been getting better and better since he's been in college," Karstetter said. "He's just got a lot of determination."

There's no magic to being a good archer, Plannick said. It's all about repetition, which is why he shoots 100 arrows a day five days a week.

"Mostly, it's just practice," he said. "You can have the best form in the world or the worst form in the world, but if you shoot the same way every time, you'll do good. Your shots end up in the same place."

In Serbia, that consistency won him a championship, his second in international competition. He also won a gold medal in 2006 as a member of the record-setting U.S. Junior compound team in Mexico.

This experience was special, though, said the 20-year-old junior.

"Serbia isn't one of those places you would go on vacation, but it was an awesome experience," he said.

He's not too big to still shoot with his dad, though.

"When he comes home, we still go in the backyard and shoot to see who's best," said Dale Plannick with a laugh. "Sometimes, he wins. Sometimes, I win. Most of the time he wins, but sometimes the old man still gets one up on him."

Additional Information:

Another local archer competes

Zack Plannick, a Montour High School graduate, wasn't the only local archer to compete at the World University Games.

Fellow All-American Elissa Falconer -- a West Allegheny High School graduate and sophomore at Miami University of Ohio -- competed for the U.S. women's team in the compound bow category. She advanced to the round of 32 before being eliminated.

Glen Thomas of Mercer, a sophomore teammate of Plannick's in college, advanced to the round of 32 in the men's recurve division.

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