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CHULA VISTA, California - Competition was hot at the SoCal Showdown Presented by AAE today with qualification and team rounds through the bronze finals. The third USAT Qualifier Series Event of the summer is crucial for archers close in the national rankings, and is also the first ever Masters USAT qualifier event.
Qualification scores from today also count for the final 2016 U.S. Paralympic Archery Team Trials. Rounding into peak form, Eric Bennett (Surprise, Arizona) was just three points off of a new world record, leading the recurve open men's bracket. Kevin Polish qualified first for the compound open men with a strong 697.
Olympian Glenn Meyers (Fremont, Michigan) led the recurve masters men and was excited about the competition: "Four of us here [in the masters class] are from Arizona State University. We shot together in college and we shot together growing up. I've known Rick [McKinney] forever, and I've known Tommy [Stevenson] since I was 10 years old. Of course Rick Betts, we met in college and we've all been shooting together for probably about 45 years, so that's a long time."
Heading into her first Olympic Games this summer, Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas) commented: "T was a tough day for me, I'm still getting over a little bit of jet lag [after returning from Turkey this week] so mentally, you just have to stay strong right now. I'm focusing on things I can control and can do well and that helped me get through the day. I look forward to shooting my best; I'm always just going for my personal best scores. Today was a little bit lower than my average, which is to be expected for being so tired."
She added: "I think that we have a good level of competition on this field and it's been growing in depth as we go through this Olympic year. There are archers here from Great Britain, Baja Mexico, and some from Canada. We have one of the Olympic qualifiers here from Canada, Georcy-Stephanie Thiffeault Picard."
Brian Bullis Jr. (Glendale, Arizona) led the recurve cadet men in qualification: "It worked out pretty well, my first half was decent, the second half was good and then the wind picked up and I started shooting really strong. Coming from Arizona, it's a little bit of an advantage in the wind."
After intense compound team rounds, top junior scorer Kolby Hanley (Cambridge, Vermont) commented: "Team Hornets, Roy, Charlie and I, we lost the bronze medal match but we hung in there! Qualification was good, I started out well for the first half with a 354. Then the wind started picking up, kinda popped a little bit, I had a couple not so hot ends, but I finished up okay. I was trying to focus more on where the whole group [of compound men] was at, not just myself. They compile scores for team rounds and eliminations and we're mixed in with the adults. We shoot next to them all the time, you just have to shoot your own bow and there's not much else you can do."
One of the most exciting matches on the compound team round field saw Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho), Steve Anderson (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Braden Gellenthien (Hudson, Massachusetts) down after three ends behind Para compound open men Andre Shelby (Jacksonville, Florida), Ben Thompson (Ladson, South Carolina) and Sam Boyles (Sheridan, Wyoming). Needing a 60 to win, the able bodied team posted a perfect score to take the win by just one point. They advanced and will shoot for gold in the team round finals tomorrow at the Team Finals Party and Archery Festival.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Archery Team of Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona), Jake Kaminksi (Gainesville, Florida), and Zach Garrett (Wellington, Missouri) won all matches in straight 6-0 matches and will also shoot for gold tomorrow.
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