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NEWBERRY, Florida - The Easton Foundations Gator Cup, which is the second of four tournaments in the U.S. Archery Team (USAT) Qualifier Series Events, kicked off today with official practice. The sun was shining bright and while archers had fun seeing friends at the start of the season, they will have a week of fierce competition in this heat and humidity.
Many local archers are competing this weekend, including recurve shooter Meghan Collins (High Springs, Florida), who qualified among the top 16 archers for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Collins commented: "It's really nice having it here - I don't have to stay in a hotel or travel, and I'm used to the field and know how the wind works here. Drink lots of water while you're here!"
On shooting in this event, Collins added: "I'm really excited to see my archery friends, it's been a really long time and I've already seen so many people and gotten so many hugs so it's already been a really nice day."
Rising young compound star Hala Skelton (High Springs, Florida) echoed: "Man, I just love this range, it's fantastic. I get to shoot here all the time, but for this all my friends come down and we get to shoot together and go out to eat and have fun." Skelton is happy to share local restaurant recommendations with anyone at the event this weekend. Despite being on home turf, Skelton says her focus will not change: "The middle, same as always."
Ryan Oliver (Newberry, Florida), also a Florida native, is also keeping his focus: "I've been training really hard. Arizona Cup didn't go as well as I would have wanted it to so I've been working a lot to get ready for this one. This is always a really good tournament, I always enjoy it and have a pretty good track record for Gator Cup."
Archery fans will be excited to follow this event as Erika Jones (Owasso, Oklahoma) and Christie Colin (York, Pennsylvania) return to the USAT circuit for the first time since 2014. Both took a break as they dedicated more time to family, but are here now and looking forward to the season. "I'm really excited to be back, I've been shooting for the last couple of months but it's different traveling and seeing everybody again. It's starting to feel like old times again!" commented Jones. "I'm easing into it and getting back into the competition field. It's so great to see everybody."
Colin shot one USAT event last year, and has been staying active in the sport with some 3-D events. "It's nice to be back here and shooting 50 meters, that's always fun. I'm just really excited to be back in the regular group of people and doing what we always do, it's like old times," Collins agreed.
To follow the Gator Cup this weekend, live scores will be available here. Qualification scores tomorrow will also count for points for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Archery, final nomination shoot. Live scores for the Trials are also available here. For more, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more.
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