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PHOENIX, Arizona - The 2017 United States Archery Team (USAT) Event Series began scoring today with a 72 arrow qualification round for all participants at the AAE Arizona Cup. Here is what you need to know:
This is the largest Arizona Cup in history with nearly 550 archers competing for national recognition.
The Arizona Cup is the first of four USAT events for 2017. For many archers who travel to these events, it is much like a big family reunion. For the countless volunteers and staff, that archery family can be the same motivation to contribute to the sport. Athlete and now judge, Curtis Balusek (Atlanta, Georgia) shared: "What keeps me coming back to this as a judge is the fact that the people are amazing; it's awesome to interact with the archers, the coaches, the families, and really just being a part of the entire tournament process. To me, that's always the biggest driving factor - I love that I get to help archers enjoy competition and make sure things run smoothly."
Scores from today stand as the first round of the U.S. World Archery Championships Team Trials for the senior recurve and compound archers. For the senior compound archers, scores from today are also part of the U.S. World Games Team Trials.
With so much pressure on the line, Braden Gellenthien (Hudson, Massachusetts), who led the compound men's division for much of the day and finished in third shared: "It's incredibly stressful, every arrow matters, whether it's the first or the last. You have to take advantage of the ends where the wind is calm because on the rough ends, you're going to be shooting nines. I let down 7 or 8 times today, and I pretty much never do that. So it was definitely stressful!"
The field was beautiful during competition today with sun and occasional light cloud cover. Slight winds picked up making tricky conditions in the start of the afternoon scoring line. Meghan Collins (Chula Vista, California), who shot in the morning session, shared: "It was great to start the outdoor season with such nice weather. It wasn't as hot as I thought it would be and the wind was not too challenging. I really enjoyed shooting in today's events."
Paralympian Matt Stutzman (Stockport, Iowa) has decided that to prepare to be where he wants to be for the Tokyo 2020 Games, he will be competing in the able bodied division, despite shooting with no arms. Stutzman shared: "I've been trying everything out - a new release and some other big changes. If I want to be the best in the world, I have to shoot with the best in the world and shoot able-bodied. I think that archery is one of the only sports that doesn't stereotype the athlete. If I can have no arms and compete against Reo Wilde and Steve Anderson and those guys and be at the top, and I have no arms, what's holding you back? I think archery can elevate everyone's game and maybe even elevate some stuff in their life."
Although the Arizona Cup was not a world ranking event this year, archers from around the world still hailed upon Phoenix for the annual tournament. Canadian Olympian Crispin Duenas, who tied with birthday boy and U.S. Olympian and Zach Garrett (Wellington, Missouri) for the top two spots with matching 666s, commented: "We came down here to kick off our outdoor season - it's not an easy tournament by any means, but we have a few guys on our team who haven't seen outdoors yet because it's Canada and we don't have outdoors yet. We brought down our National Training Squad and we've been here for about a week training and to kick start the outdoor season before the World Cups; to get their brains ready to think about what they need to be working on. To perform, you need to be prepped, and that's why we're here."
For elimination matches tomorrow, junior, collegiate, senior and para archers are combined, as are the master and cadet archers in each class to form the elimination brackets. All combined divisions are cut to the top 64 qualifiers in each category. Many divisions were extremely competitive and had close scores determine the cuts.
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