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April 12, 2011

AAE Arizona Cup Kicks off Season

The podium at the 2011 AAE Arizona Cup was a veritable who's who of target archery, featuring heavy hitters such as four-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig, number two world ranked Brady Ellison, and World Cup team medalists Christie Colin and Rodger Willett, Jr. However, this World Ranking Tournament, the first USAT Qualifier Series Event of 2011, was by no means a foregone conclusion, with weather conditions making the qualifying round a challenge, and several surprises in Sunday's elimination rounds. 

The event, the first of its kind to feature the new compound 50 meter round, opened to cloudy skies, unseasonably cold temperatures and intermittent showers. Archers took to the field to shoot a 144 arrow qualification round, with the recurves shooting a full FITA round, while compound archers shot two 72 arrow rounds at 50 meters on the new 80 centimeter target. 

For the recurve men, it was Juan Rene Serrano (MEX) who took the top spot in the qualifying round, shooting a 1322, while USA Archery Resident Athlete Jacob Wukie was seeded no. 2 with a 1309. Reigning National Target Champion Jake Kaminski shot a 1307 to take the third spot after a close contest for the second position. On the women's side, two-time Olympian Jennifer Nichols led the pack with her score of 1301; she was followed by Marie Pier Beadet (CAN) who scored 1290, while Ana Bayardo (MEX) qualified 3rd with a 1286. 

It was literally a record day of shooting for the compound archers, as this was the first international event at which the new compound format was used, thus giving the top archers world record status for their scores (pending official verification). Reo Wilde shot a strong 1401 despite challenging weather conditions to qualify no. 1, while Rodger Willett, Jr., just 3 points behind, ended in second. Jesse Broadwater, shooting a 1388, finished in the third spot. For the compound women, Jamie Van Natta ended on top with a 1371, while Erika Anschutz shot a 1362 to qualify second. Christie Colin, scoring a 1356, took third. Both Wilde and Van Natta claimed world records for their qualifying round scores. 

The second day of the event proved challenging for many archers who participated in the National and Open team rounds, due to cold and wet weather conditions which prevailed throughout the day. "(It was a) cold and rainy day for team round," noted one male recurve archer. "I can't feel my fingers." Despite the cold, team USA Archers dominated the National Team rounds, with the USA taking gold and silver in compound and recurve mixed team rounds, respectively, and gold medals for compound and recurve men's and women's team rounds.  

Sunday dawned clear and cool, as archers gathered to begin the head to head matches which would narrow the field in each division and class. Changes introduced by FITA earlier this year included a new scoring system for compound archers in elimination matches: scores are cumulative throughout five ends of three arrows each; the archer scoring closest to 150 points wins the match and advances; ties are broken with a one-arrow shoot-off. On the recurve side, the set system remained largely unchanged, except that all matches are shot as three sets of five arrows each, scored using the set system, and the first archer to reach six points wins; ties are broken with a one-arrow shoot-off. 

The recurve men's category saw some surprises, with Kaminski defeating five-time Olympian Butch Johnson to advance to the semis, where he faced Wukie, who won the match with a 6-4 decision. Jeff Anderson took his own match against Dan Schuller to punch his ticket to the semifinals, where he faced Ellison, who ultimately won the contest with a narrow 6-5 victory. In the medal matches, it was a very tight race for the bronze medal, in which Kaminski finally defeated Anderson after another tight 6-5 decision; in the gold medal match, Ellison took the medal with a 7-3 win against Wukie. 

The contests on the recurve women's side were equally exciting, with Koehl defeating Nichols in the quarterfinals, 6-2, to meet Lorig in the semifinals, who took that match by the same score. Also shooting in the semifinals were Alejandra Valencia (MEX) and Beaudet; the Canadian took the match with a 6-0 shutout to earn her berth to the gold medal match against Lorig. Koehl went on to face Valencia in a nail-biting fight for the bronze medal, which Koehl finally achieved with a 6-5 win, while it was a battle between Olympians Lorig and Beaudet for the gold medal. Lorig, shooting well despite a variable breeze, won the match and the gold medal with 6 set points to Beaudet's 2. 

For the compound men, Wilde met Christenberry in the semifinals, and these heavy hitters tied it up with a 145-all score, broken in Wilde's favor with a one-arrow shoot off. Broadwater and Willett also faced off in the semis, with a more decisive victory for Willett, 148-145. Both of the medal matches were close contests, with Christenberry taking the bronze 144-143 over Broadwater, while WIllett was golden after a 145-143 win, giving Wilde the silver. 

In the compound women's category, it was Van Natta facing Stephanie Salinas (MEX) in the semifinals, with Van Natta taking that match by a decisive 9 point margin. Colin, facing a tough competitor in Anschutz, won that match with a 141-131 decision, earning her way to the gold medal contest against Van Natta, while Anschutz shot against Salinas for the bronze. Colin and Van Natta ended their match locked at 141-141, though Colin ultimately took the gold medal in a one arrow shoot off. Anschutz tied up the bronze medal match as well, shooting a 135 to match her competitor's score. Salinas, however, took the shoot off by one point, winning the bronze medal.  

For complete results from the 2011 AAE Arizona Cup, click here.

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