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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Mixed team rounds through the semifinals at World Cup Salt Lake saw USA archers on the field all day. After hard fought matches, the recurve duo of Brady Ellison and Mackenzie Brown will shoot for gold and Jamie Van Natta and Kris Schaff, the U.S. compound mixed team, will compete for bronze.
Ellison and Brown, who have had a strong record competing together in the mixed team event, opened with clean 6-0s through the first two rounds to enter the final four semifinal showdown. Then, facing India, they began with a 4-0 lead, but wind picked up and the score went 4-4 for a shoot off. Brown's 9 and Ellison's 8 outscored India's 8 and 6 to take the win and a shot at gold at the finals this weekend.
"The last time I was able to shoot for a gold medal on home soil was 2011 in Ogden so this opportunity is awesome," commented Ellison. "I'm shooting good, Mackenzie shot really well today and we generally shoot well as a team. My fingers aren't hurting me, my shot is starting to come back together, which is just a godsend."
Brown added, "I think the reason why I like shooting with Brady so much is because it's like shooting with a best friend. We're just out there having fun. We were talking about archery and life through the whole afternoon. At the end of the day we know we've been training and we know we have enough experience on the field that we're just having fun and trusting each other."
Talking through the last match, Ellison shared, "That match was tough; the wind has been blowing left to right the last three days and then started blowing right to left and everyone had a little bit of safety clicks in there so I think if you look at our target, there's 90% of arrows on the left and we just couldn't get away from it and ended up getting into a shoot off and winning it."
Brown agreed, "I think this last match was really challenging, the wind was challenging and switched a lot, so just picking your spot and going was really important. We communicated very well as a team and I think that's what we're going to take into the finals to shoot a really strong shot. I think it's built up a lot of trust and made us both stronger to be able to look at that wind and have each other's backs when it comes to checking the flags and where everybody is hitting."
On the compound field, Van Natta and Schaff crushed a 151-142 opening match, followed by a narrow 147-146 quarterfinal victory over Chinese Taipei before facing France in the semifinals. Tied going into the last four arrows, France edged one point ahead to finish 153-152 as the U.S. duo finished strong for a chance at bronze.
"I actually felt like we did pretty good," commented Van Natta. "Kris is a really easy going guy, he's really easy to shoot with, so it worked really well. I love shooting here, I really do. This is a beautiful facility and the home crowd support is really great and I can't wait to have the stands filled on Saturday and be out in the medal field!"
Competition earlier in the day featured early individual elimination matches to cut each division to the top 32 archers. While most U.S. archers were through on byes, recurve's Jack Williams smoked a 6-0 victory with straight sets of 29, 29 and 30 while teammate Matt Requa took a 7-3 win and Tom Stanwood was upset 7-3 by Luxembourg's Jeff Henckles. Compound archer Robyn Repp scored high despite a no-show opponent and recurve's Erin Mickelberry outshot teammate LaNola Shepherd 7-3 to advance.
Individual and team elimination matches through the semifinals tomorrow are free and open to the public to attend. June 23-24 will host the exciting head to head finals matches and a huge Archery Festival for spectators. Attendees will have the opportunity to try their hand at archery, play games, win prizes, taste local flavor at on-site food trucks and more!
Tickets are now available at http://archeryworldcupsaltlake.org. Tickets are $10 pp/session, and children ages 8 and under enter free. For fans watching from home, the finals will be streamed live on the Olympic Channel.
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