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ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia - Last weekend, top U.S. collegiate archers from schools across the nation, took on the world's best at the eleventh biannual FISU World University Archery Championships (WUC) in Mongolia. 166 archers competed from 23 countries, and the level of talent on the field was intense.
Both U.S. compound teams picked up bronze medal wins after exciting matches. The fourth seeded men's team had an easy path to the semifinals where they faced the top ranked team from Korea, who went on to take gold. The U.S. team then had a heated and close match with Turkey for bronze, taking the win 230-228. The third seeded U.S. women tied with Chinese Taipei in the bronze final and went to a shoot off - taking the win with a 29 to their 28.
Allie Blazek, who qualified third individually, led the strong team with Carli Cochran and Sophia Strachan. Blazek commented: "Shooting against fierce competition in the WUC was an incredible experience for me and I couldn't have asked for a better team to compete with. The team dynamic was great and everyone got along really well. Being able to win a medal at such a huge international tournament was amazing and I'm so happy that I was able to experience this opportunity with such great friends!"
Cochran agreed: "The WUC was a very unique cultural experience. Mongolia has an historic archery background and is known for military effectiveness with the composite recurve bow. During our match, we made an incredible comeback and went into a one arrow shoot off, then took the win. Overall, this tournament was one that I'll never forget and I'll cherish in my heart forever."
Paeton Keller also qualified third individually, and went on to win another bronze medal in the compound men's individual final in a shoot off win over Alexander Dambaev of Russia. "I continued to shoot well in individual eliminations to land a spot in the bronze medal match," commented Keller. "After tying every single end with [Dambaev] and winning an intense one arrow shoot off, I found myself with the most rewarding medal in my archery career!"
On competing with his teammates Garrett Abernethy and David McNealy, Keller added: "I was very excited having the opportunity to travel to Mongolia with the U.S. team. We had a great group of strong archers, which made for a fun trip with high hopes. Throughout the trip, the compound team had a few equipment setbacks but we tackled the problems and stayed focused for the competition."
Heather Koehl and Madison Eich, who competed in the top 16 for this year's Olympic Trials, teamed up with Michelle Gilbert. The recurve women won their first team match before a quarterfinal exit 6-0 to Korea. Koehl was the highest individual finisher, placing 9th.
Also in the Olympic Trials top 16 this year, Jeremiah Cusick competed with Matt Zumbo and Dillon McMenamy as the recurve men's team. The trio was knocked out early in the 1/8th 5-1 by India. The three also were eliminated individually in the 1/16th among a very competitive field.
Zumbo and Koehl teamed up for the recurve mixed team event, where the duo qualified ninth, but managed to finish 8th, upsetting Mongolia 6-0 in the first match. Keller and Blazek competed as the compound mixed team and finished 4th after a crushing 144-130 bronze final loss to Malaysia.
To learn more about the history of this event, click here. To learn more about the USA Archery Collegiate Archery Program, click here. Live scores from the event this week can be found here.
Photo by FISU.
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