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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The top 16 men and women made big strides on the Road to Rio today with the completion of the First Nomination Shoot for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. With two more trials left to go, the scores from today make a good indication of the hot competition and close matches to come.
Zach Garrett (Wellington, Missouri), who finished first for the men, had one match today where he shot a perfect 10 on each of his first 9 arrows, yet did not win the match with an unbeatable 90 as his opponent, Olympian Jacob Wukie (Fremont, Ohio) also shot a perfect 30, following a 28 and 29 to bring the match to 5-1, forcing another set before Garrett took the win.
On the women's field just after that, all eight concurrent matches went to 5 sets, and 7 of them went to a one-arrow shoot off. Competition was intense and as Tatyana Muntyan (Delray Beach, Florida) commented: "no one wants to lose."
As of right now, the U.S. has qualified a full men's team of three archers for the Rio 2016 Games, but only one slot for the women. They will have another chance next summer to earn the final two spots.
Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas) finished on top for the women, just after a big World Cup win in Wroclaw last month: "I am confident that we will qualify a full women's team because the group we have together right now is one of the most cohesive we've had in a while and I really think that's going to help us get those other two spots."
She added: "The key to getting there is going to come from working together and being a really close-knit team. I'm going to stay the same, I'm going to keep training really hard and work to make my competitions more like practice."
For fans that want to practice like Mackenzie, she shared: "When I'm shooting I always like to listen to country music. I also eat lots of fruits and vegetables because they're light but they'll sustain me through a tournament."
Garrett was pleased with his top finishing performance as well: "I shot well, so it feels good. I felt like I was pretty well prepared and executed a lot of good shots today and kept my self mentally in check." Zach says that knowing he is ready for a tournament involves a lot of practice scoring so he can evaluate his performances.
He explained: "I made a lot of technical changes with Coach [Kisik] Lee in the last few weeks that really helped and gave me a better understanding of what he needed to do. I used to spend a lot of time tuning my bow really well, but for this one I just got it pretty close." Zach mentioned that he just set up new arrows with a new draw weight about two days before travelling for the trials.
Making the Olympic team, according to Zach, "is what everyone wants to do who's in this position. It would feel rewarding and like all the training was worth it. My main goal for this tournament was to finish in the top three and I accomplished that so now I'm going to Colombia for the next World Cup and my goal is to make the World Cup Final so I'll have to shoot really well for that."
Stay tuned tomorrow for World Cup results as many of the archers competing today head to Colombia tonight to continue competing. See match results and complete standings from this weekend's events here. For more, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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