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NEWBERRY, Florida - Rain, wind and even lightning couldn't stop 24 of the country's best young archers from earning tickets to Yankton, South Dakota, where they'll represent the United States at the World Archery Youth Championships.
Cadet and junior archers, earning Team Trials spots based on their qualification scores from the Easton Foundations Gator Cup, faced off against one another on Monday. The event: round robin matches, for which archers earned points for match wins, as well as bonus points for their arrow averages.
A large crowd of anxious coaches, parents and spectators cheered on the young athletes, who pushed through challenging weather conditions to prove that they were the best competitors to represent the United States at the World Championships.
For the cadets, age only meant the competition was fierce; this is a division that boasts some of the highest participation numbers in USA Archery events.
Junior Dream Team (JDT) members Ryan Oliver and Geun Kevin Kim, together with Min Soo Kim, took the top three spots on the recurve cadet men's team. Brian Bulliss, finishing fourth by a half point, is the Alternate. Oliver, who also won the Gator Cup in his division this weekend, expressed excitement at being selected to the team.
"I'm very blessed and honored to be representing my country while competing against the best archers in the world! We all have a great opportunity this year since Youth World Championships is right here in the U.S." When asked what he'd be working on to prepare, Oliver said consistency is key: "I will work to become the best all around archer that I can be. I'm really going to focus on improving my shot consistency and performing under pressure."
Eliana Claps led the group selected to the recurve cadet women's team, which was a very close contest among the top four women. She'll be joined in Yankton by teammates Suzanna Sim and Caity Farr, who was this weekend's Gator Cup gold medalist. Grace Kim, Gator Cup silver medalist, earned the Alternate spot.
The compound cadet men's team will be comprised of Daniel O'Connor, Dane Johnson, and Cole Feterl. Ethan King will be the team Alternate. Fans may recall Feterl from this weekend's Gator Cup finals, where he finished with the silver medal.
Dahlia Crook - the sixteen year old who turned heads at the Indoor World Cup Final in Las Vegas this year - was the top finisher for the compound cadet women's group. She'll join teammates Cassidy Cox - who is a Compound JDT Member - and Breanna Theodore in Yankton. Gracie Detamore, Gator Cup medalist and JDT archer, is the team Alternate.
Crook, who is coached by international compound superstar Braden Gellenthien, took a minute to give thanks on Facebook: "Thank you so much to my awesome coach who is constantly an encouraging mentor and friend to me; I am so grateful for everything you do. I also want to thank my wonderful parents and sister, who are always there for me, always supportive and always encouraging to me. Finally, I want to give glory to God."
For the juniors - ages 18 through 20 - there was very tough competition on the field, and these archers all showed why they deserve spots on a World Championships squad.
Zach Garrett and Collin Klimitchek, who both also earned spots earlier in the day for the adult World Archery Championships team, scored themselves two places on the recurve junior men's team, along with teammate Caleb Miller. The team Alternates are Michael Plummer and Andre Mateo, who tied for the fourth spot.
Mackenzie Brown, the alternate for the adult women's team, was the highest finisher for the recurve junior women's team. Joining her in Yankton will be Anna Miscione and Karissa Yamaguchi, both of whom are Junior Dream Team members and competed in the adult event as well. Lauren Clamon finished in the fourth position as Alternate.
Stephen Manfull, Chris Bee and David Houser were named to the compound junior men's team. These junior standouts have seen success on the national tournament circuit, and will bring strong competitive experience to Yankton. Caleb Sorrells is the team Alternate, finishing fourth.
Bee, who is well known for his success in both the National Archery in the Schools Program as well as USA Archery events, shared on Facebook: "Success. Blessed to make my second outdoor world team. It was an awesome day winning 7/7 of my matches in the pouring rain. South Dakota here we come!"
Emily Fischer, a three time World Championship medalist, claimed a spot on the compound junior women's team, along with Paige Pearce and Danielle Reynolds. Meagan Petitt finished in the Alternate spot.
Pearce shared her excitement with fans: "I just made my 5th Junior World Championships team, and will be lucky enough to represent our country in Yankton later this year. I will be the only person in history to attend 5 Jr World Championships! I couldn't be happier!! Congrats to my two awesome teammates, we will rock it!"
View complete team selection results here, and follow USA Archery's coverage of the team as they prepare for the World Archery Youth Championships, via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Home page photo credit: Gary Yamaguchi
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