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SHANGHAI, China - The 2016 Archery World Cup season kicked off today in Shanghai. The World Cup Series is shortened this year to only three events before the Final to accommodate the Olympic schedule. In peak form on his Road to Rio, U.S. Olympic Team Trials leader Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona) qualified first for the recurve men this morning, shooting a competition personal best of 697 - just two points off the world record, but still the third highest score in history.
"I had a chance at the 700 but I needed 60 in the last end," Ellison told World Archery. "I had done it three times already but I knew, walking onto the line, that it probably wasn't going to happen. I shot six good shots and walked off the line happy."
"To shoot 700 you need to shoot every shot well and have some of your okay ones land in the 10 as well," he added. "You can't go below 58. I had a 55 and a 56 here, but shot 71 shots well - there's probably only one arrow I'd like to have back. It's really tough."
Ellison's score, 10 points over anyone else on the field, coupled with USA's 9th seed Zach Garrett (Wellington, Missouri), 672, and 37th seed Jacob Wukie (Fremont, Ohio), 663, gave the U.S. men's trio the top team qualification spot ahead of the Netherlands and India.
The compound men also had an incredibly strong field in full swing as top qualifier Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands set a new world record with a whopping 717. U.S. men swept the third through fifth seeds finishing with 712 for Alex Wifler (Crete, Illinois) in his Archery World Cup debut, 711 for Steve Anderson (Salt Lake City, Utah), and 710 for Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho). Their combined total of 2133 raised a five-year standing world record, set by the U.S. in Torino in 2011.
"We all pledged in the hotel room to make America great one arrow at a time," joked Anderson to World Archery. "This is a good start. It was a good day. Braden even had a 707," he added on Gellenthien's 11th place qualification score.
"The US team over the past years have changed a lot," explained Wilde. "We've gone through a lot of faces but to come out here and break a mark that's stood for five years is cool."
Crystal Gauvin (Dayville, Connecticut) led the U.S. compound women, qualifying second with a 705, just three points off of top scorer, Colombia's Sara Lopez. Together with a 691 from Danielle Reynolds (Chandler, Arizona) and a 680 from Dahlia Crook (Piedmont, Kansas), the team qualified fourth, just a point behind Germany in third, leaving them in good place for a medal.
The U.S. recurve women are in a tough position this year - needing to earn a spot on the podium at the third World Cup in Antalya, Turkey this June to win their full quota slots for the Rio Games, the pressure is on. Qualifying twelfth, Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, California) was the leading scorer for the U.S. recurve women with a 656. Coupled with LaNola Pritchard (Lehi, Utah) and Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas), the team scored 1921, placing them 13th in the rankings. Their first match will be against the team from India, led by division high scorer, Deepika Kumari.
Qualification was followed by mixed team eliminations through the semifinals. Top qualifiers on the compound field, Wifler and Gauvin were upset in the first match by 16th seed Malaysia. Lorig and Ellison, a longstanding duo with a winning history, swept cleanly through their matches to shoot for gold in the finals this weekend against top seed, Chinese Taipei.
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