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London, United Kingdom - The ranking round for the Paralympic Games finished up today with two Americans finishing in the top three, despite poor shooting conditions. According to Team USA's Eric Bennett (Surprise, Ariz.), "The weather was totally crazy today: hot then cold, rainy then dry, cloudy then sunny, windy then calm, and every combination in between."
Matt Stutzman (Fairfield, Ohio) delivered on the excitement surrounding his first Paralympic Games appearance, qualifying first in the compound men open category by 12 points with a score of 685. "I feel good," commented Stutzman. "Qualifying first is great, but I still feel I have room for improvement. Most importantly this puts me in a great place moving forward into the main event tomorrow."
Jeff Fabry (Tulare, Calif.) is competing in his third Paralympic Games. A three-time Paralympic medalist, Fabry will be looking to add a gold medal to his trophy case. Fabry put himself in an excellent position to win a gold medal by finishing 2nd in the compound men's W1 class with a 659.
Dugie Denton (Joliet, Mont.), one of three U.S. Veterans on the team, also shot well enough to qualify 9th with his score of 656, in a tough compound men's open group that included teammate Stutzman. He was consistent during the ranking round, remaining in the top ten throughout.
Jerry Shields (Jacksonville, Fla.), shot a 586, also in the compound men's W1 group, and is ranked 10th heading into elimination round match play. Fellow U.S. Veteran Russell Wolfe (Widnoon, Penn.), shot a 555 and is ranked 20th in the recurve men W1/W2 category.
Bennett, who shot in the recurve men standing group, achieved a 604 and is ranked 11th, coming back strong to shoot a new personal best for international competition after a starting in 18th place earlier in the ranking round.
Fellow recurver Lee Ford (Perry, Ga.) shot a 417 and is ranked 19th in the recurve women standing group after shooting in "way cold" conditions, according to her Twitter feed. "I'm taking one day at a time, one arrow at a time," she posted to her fan page following the ranking round. "Gonna build my confidence up and rest so I can [shoot well] on Saturday."
For complete standings for all athletes who competed today, as well as elimination round brackets, click here. Photos, athlete updates and more are available on USA Archery's Facebook page. USA Archery is tweeting live updates throughout the event, on London time.
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