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Valencia, VENEZUELA - If the medal counts from the recent Juan Enrique Barrios Cup in Salinas, Puerto Rico, coupled with the hardware from this week's 24th Torneo Batalla de Carabobo IV Juegos Alba, are any indication, there is a serious depth of up and coming archery talent in the United States.
Spurred on by young athletes like number one world ranked Brady Ellison, who has risen to archery superstardom since switching to recurve shooting in 2005, the members of the Junior Dream Team who are competing this week, are demonstrating that they are training hard to be the next evolution in American archery.
Showing the kind of mettle that it takes to succeed in tournaments, U.S. archer Daniel McLaughlin increased his ranking round scores to qualify first in this tournament, medaling at 30 meters and finishing with a 1249. Just behind him was teammate Chris Luman, shooting a 1242 and medaling at 90 and 70 meters. Sean McLaughlin raised his standing to a third place ranking, first at 50 meters and scoring a 1238, while teammate Nathan Yamaguchi, with a strong 30 meter score, ended in eighth with 1176.
The U.S. women were determined to answer with strong scores of their own. Mackenzie Brown, tying McLaughlin's score at 30 meters, and medaling at all but 60 meters, qualified number one with 1277. She was followed by Yerubi Suarez (VEN) with a 1206, and Saraneth Rivera (VEN), shooting 1194 for third. USA's Michelle Gilbert ended in fourth, shooting 1193, while Heather Trafford, scoring 1109 points, ended in the seventh ranking position.
For the Olympic Round, the U.S. female archers participated as seniors against some of the best talent in the world, including current World Champion Denisse Van Lamoen of Chile. USA's Gilbert was byed through the 1/24 and had strong wins in the 1/16 and 1/8 rounds. In the quarterfinals, she had a tough opponent in seventh ranked senior Lya Solano (DOM), but Gilbert was able to prevail and secure her spot in the semis with a 6-4 win. A tough 6-4 semifinal loss to Gabriela Goni (ARG) put Gilbert into the bronze medal match, facing Cuba's Larissa Pagan, the fourth ranked senior. Gilbert fought to take the match to a tie, which she lost on the one arrow shoot-off, finishing fourth for the Olympic Round. In the gold medal match, it was Goni who took the gold, giving Van Lamoen the silver.
Trafford began her round with a 1/24 victory against Maisberth Morillo (LAR), winning 6-0. Advancing to the 1/16, Trafford faced ninth seed Allesandra Morago, who is part of the Chilean team that has recently been training at the United States Olympic Training Center. Moraga was difficult to stop, winning her match versus Trafford 7-3. Teammate Brown also got off to a strong start, byed through the 1/24th, and won her 1/16 match versus Laura Navarro (ANZ), 6-0. Advancing to the 1/8, Brown faced Loris Ojeda (CUB), whom she was unable to stop, retiring after a 6-0 loss.
For the junior men, Yamaguchi showed the same strong shooting that made him the young champion in the adult division at the Vegas Shoot earlier this year. Byed into the 1/16, Yamaguchi posted a 6-0 victory in his 1/8 match to advance to the quarterfinals. Facing a tough competitor in teammate Daniel McLaughlin, who was coming off his own shutout win in the 1/8 round, Yamaguchi took McLaughlin to a tie, and then a one-arrow shoot-off. Scoring ten points to McLaughlin's 8, Yamaguchi moved to the semifinals, where Anthony Lopez (LAR) defeated him with a 6-2 win, earning Yamaguchi a berth to the bronze medal match.
Also advancing through the ranks was Team USA's Luman, who received a bye in the 1/16 and posted a 6-2 victory versus David Sanchez (LAR) in the 1/8. Luman also advanced past Ricardo Vasquez (VEN) in the quarterfinals, not giving up a single set point. In the semis, Luman was unable to stop Yolmar Pinto (VEN), who won the match with six set points to Luman's two.
Luman and Yamaguchi met in the bronze medal match, which resulted in a 6-0 victory and the bronze medal for Yamaguchi. In the gold medal final, it was Pinto who took the gold, with Lopez winning the silver. Team USA's Sean McLaughlin, who qualified third, also fared well in his first match, a 1/8 shutout win versus Christian Escalona (YAR). However, McLaughlin faced eventual silver medalist Pinto in the quarterfinals, who took the match, 6-2.
USA Archery thanks the Easton Foundations for their support of the U.S. team at this event. The Junior Dream Team archers at this event are supported by a full staff, including coaches Jim White, Alex Meyer and Steve Caufman, and team leader Steve Cornell. Complete results can be found at http://www.feveta.com.
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