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WUXI, China - Finals began this morning at the World Archery Youth Championships with compound archers competing for eight medals. Clear standouts at this competition, the US's rising stars climbed the podium repeatedly, proving Team USA will not budge as a powerhouse force in the archery world.
The compound ladies struck gold, with both the cadet and junior teams winning world titles. The junior squad of Kailey Johnston (Dublin, Ga.), Paige Pearce (Red Bluff, Calif.), and Lexi Keller (Omro, Wis.) took an early lead in their final match against the Russian Federation and retained their hold through all four sets to easily capture the gold.
Johnston and Pearce faced each other head-to-head for the individual bronze medal, guaranteeing a US win. The match went back and forth, with Pearce taking the lead after the first and third sets, but Johnston tied it up at the second and fourth sets and ultimately was the victor with a perfect 30 finish.
The cadet ladies also won team gold in their match-up with the Russian Federation. The defending champion team starred Emily Fischer (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Sonia Taniguchi (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Danielle Reynolds (Gilbert, Ariz.). Opening the match with a 59-53 lead, the US stomped any chance the team from Russia had at gold. They held their position to win finishing with a massive point gap and strong grip on the world title.
Taniguchi then faced a rematch against the Russian Federation's Alexandra Savenkova. Although Taniguchi opened with a 30, she soon lost her lead and Savenkova took the win leaving Taniguchi with the silver. Savenkova's tie for the world record and first place qualification score earlier this week place her in ranks as a top contender to look out for on the up and coming archery scene.
Reynolds shot against Maja Orlic (CRO) for the bronze, also opening with an intimidating perfect 30, but dropped points in the last three sets. Orlic took the win by only two points.
The compound junior men, Alex Wifler (Chicago, Ill.), Bridger Deaton (Pella, Iowa) and Danny Button (Monona, Wis.) scored two new world records this week, first for highest ever team qualification score, and then broke the head-to-head record as well. Although an intimidating force, the US opened with a low score and a four-point deficit. They closed the gap through the rest of the match, finishing with a perfect 60, but it was not enough to stop Mexico from grabbing the title.
Wifler, new to the compound scene, joined seasoned archer, Johnston in the mixed team event. The duo shot against Colombia for the gold. Emerging untouchable, Sara Lopez (COL) led her teammate to the win. The US posted a strong lead in the first three sets, but slipped with a final eight, losing the match by a single point.
The cadet men's team of Chris Bee (Hartland, Mich.), Justin Dixon (Yoakum, Tex.), Tyson Walker Pruitte (Hamlet, N.C.), also faced Mexico, this time for the bronze. While Team USA took another early lead with an impressive start, a low third set cost them the win, again by only one point.
These close matches show the incredible level of talent on the field and in the future of this sport. New players have emerged as heavy hitters joining, or soon to join the senior stage. The US has clearly identified itself as one of these players with new world records and lots of wins.
Competition resumes tomorrow with recurve finals, where the junior men's team will compete to regain the world title for the first time in twenty years. Watch live scores at http://www.worldarchery.org/en-us/worldchampionships/youth-wuxi2013/livecommentaries.aspx and visit USA Archery on Facebook and twitter for photos and updates from the field.
Some information attributed to World Archery Communication.
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