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April 24, 2015

448 Archers Qualify at Record Setting Gator Cup

NEWBERRY, Florida - As 448 archers took to the field at this year's Easton Foundations Gator Cup, spectators were treated to strong, decisive shots that resulted in solid scores for many competitors. Precision was the name of the game today, as Team Trials for the World Archery Championships and World Archery Youth Championships drew a significant number of highly talented competitors to this United States Archery Team (USAT) Qualifier Series Event. 

Archers competed in three distinct age groups: senior archers, competing as adults; junior archers, between 18-20 years of age; and cadets, between the ages of 15-17. Every competitor shot 72 arrows as part of today's qualification rounds; their scores from today will place them into brackets for head-to-head matchplay in Sunday's elimination rounds. 

Cadet archers shot 72 arrows at a distance of 60 meters for the recurve archers, and 50 meters for the compounders. With each arrow worth 10 possible points, there was a maximum score of 720 on the table, a world record that's still available for the taking. 

Ryan Oliver, a local recurve competitor who finished with the silver medal at the recent Arizona Cup, put up a field-leading score of 671 to qualify first. He was followed by Arizona Cup gold medalist Geun Kim, shooting a 661. Rounding out the top three was Min Soo Kim with 653 points. The women's group was led by Caity Farr, averaging a solid 9 points per arrow for a 648. Meghan Collins clinched the second spot with a 635, while Grace Kim shot a 632. 

Dahlia Crook, an emerging standout in the compound women's division, competed as a cadet for this event - her actual age group - and earned the top spot with a 671. Just behind: Cassidy Cox, who shot a 669, and Breanna Theodore with 667 points. Logan Bunker hit a solid 693 to lead the compound cadet men's category; he was followed by Daniel O'Connor and Samuel White, shooting 691 and 690, respectively. 

Junior archers are grouped with seniors for the purposes of determining brackets for elimination round matchplay. However, for today's qualifications, they are measured against their peers, and there was a high level of competition in these divisions. Paige Pearce, a standout for many years in the compound women's category, delivered a 688 to lead the junior women. Just one point behind: Emily Bee, with her score of 687. Emily Fischer rounded out the top three with a 679. Just one point separated the top three men in the compound junior category; Steven Manfull led the pack with 696, the same score shot by David Houser, who qualified second. In third: Chris Bee, with a strong 695.

For the recurve archers, Micheal Plummer delivered a winning performance, edging out Andrew Mateo with a 618 to Mateo's 617. Sean Chang qualified third, with a very respectable 615. The highest scoring recurve junior archer on the field? Jenna Ahn, who hit a strong 632 to clinch the top spot. Fifteen points behind, in second place: Madison Eich, with a 617. Karissa Yamaguchi rounded out the top three, shooting a 615. 

Senior archers saw four established fan favorites take the number one spots. In the recurve women's category, it was "Hunger Games" archery coach and Olympic medalist Khatuna Lorig who reminded fans why she's a five time Olympian: she hit a 663, leading the pack by nearly 20 points. Mackenzie Brown qualified second, hitting a 646, while Ariel Gibilaro ranked third with a 641. No surprises in the men's category, either: Olympic medalist Brady Ellison averaged a strong 9.4 points per arrow to take the number one ranking with a 677. Zach Garrett, Arizona Cup's breakout star, finished five points behind Ellison with a 672. In third: Ellison's Olympic teammate Jake Kaminski, with 669 points. 

In the compound women's group, it was a tight contest between World Cup medalist Crystal Gauvin and multi-time World Champion Jamie Van Natta; Gauvin delivered with a 695, while Van Natta settled for the second spot and a 694. In third: Brogan Williams, shooting a 682. Scores were also tight on the compound men's field, with Reo Wilde hitting a 710 to take the top ranking; he was followed closely by World Cup teammate Braden Gellenthien, shooting a 709. Vegas Shoot champion Alex Wifler, formerly of the recurve division, shot a 706 for the third spot. 

The excitement continues on Saturday with World Championships Team Trials excitement for recurve and youth archers. On Sunday, #GatorCup competition picks up again with elimination round matchplay, which will be live streamed on USA Archery's website. Click here for live scores, news and Sunday's live stream. 

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