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For Trey McDonald and Miles Gould, the Easton JOAD Nationals was a high-stakes, serious archery competition. But when a mistake on the field put sportsmanship to the test, both boys rose to the challenge.
The Elimination Rounds of the Easton JOAD Nationals began later than expected, and as competition got underway for the second round of matches, archers were encouraged to quickly make their way to the waiting line for the beginning of the match.
Both boys, shooting in the compound bowmen (12 and under) category, advanced to target number fourteen to shoot their match against one another. However, Gould returned from scoring his first arrows with tears in his eyes: he had been assigned to a different target than his opponent, and didn't realize it.
At first, tournament officials said that all three of Gould's arrows would count as misses, effectively handing the match to McDonald. But after very competitive shooting from both boys, the match would have been tied if the arrows had been counted.
McDonald and his parents appealed to tournament officials again to ask if anything could be done for Gould, feeling that winning the match in this manner was unfair.
"At the end of shooting 15 arrows…the judge asked Trey [McDonald]: 'if you agree, then we can have a one arrow shoot-off, or you can take the win,'" explained Julie, Trey's mother. "Trey said he wanted to have a one arrow shoot-off [with Gould]. He didn't think the rule was fair because…he wasn't even sure he was shooting on the correct target. He felt he just got lucky."
When the match came down to a single arrow shoot-off, Gould's was closest to the center, giving him the win. But he wasn't satisfied: on the way back from pulling arrows, Gould signaled the judge and asked him to give the win to McDonald.
"I felt kind of bad for him that his kindness led to a one arrow shoot-off, when he could have just as easily won the match," Gould said. "I first thought about [conceding the match to Trey] right after he agreed to give me my points back."
When asked what he learned from the experience, McDonald noted: "Be nice to competitors and they will be nice back to you." He commented that the best part was getting to know Gould and their other competitor, Nick Younger, who all had the opportunity to have dinner together after the tournament finished.
"This was a great opportunity to showcase true sportsmanship in the heat of competition, and these young archers outdid themselves," commented Denise Parker, USA Archery CEO. "Trey and Miles both set an outstanding example for youth and adult archers alike."
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