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PHOENIX - The competition was appropriately hot at the AAE Arizona Cup, despite heavy winds that frustrated even the most experienced of archers on the field. The World Ranking Event, which also kicked off USA Archery's USAT Qualifier Series for 2013, featured some of the best archery talent in the Americas, including six Olympians in the recurve finals.
Mariana Avita and Aida Roman, Mexico's Olympic bronze and silver medalists, respectively, shot their way through tough matches in the recurve women's category only to face each other in the semifinals.
With a 7-3 victory, Avitia clinched her spot in the gold medal matchup versus London 2012 fourth-place finisher Khatuna Lorig (USA), while teammate Roman faced Gabriela Bayardo (MEX) for bronze. Bayardo ultimately clinched that medal with a 6-4 win versus Roman.
The recurve women's gold medal final was a flashback to London, with Avitia and Lorig meeting in a rematch of the bronze medal final that gave Avitia her first Olympic hardware last summer. Though Lorig took an early lead in this gold medal final, Avitia came back to tie the match, 5-all - and clinched the gold medal for Mexico with a "closer-to-center" ten in the shoot-off, leaving Lorig to content herself with silver.
In the recurve men's category, there were some surprise exits early in the matches, including three quarters of USA's World Cup team for Shanghai: Joe Fanchin (Oceanside, Calif.) was stopped in a shocking 1/16 loss, while Jake Kaminski (Elma, N.Y.) and Butch Johnson (Woodstock, Conn.) were both edged out in the 1/8 round.
World No. 1 Brady Ellison (Payson, Ariz.) was nearly stopped in the 1/8 round after a 5-5 tie with Matt Zumbo (Fountain Valley, Calif.), but prevailed in the tiebreaker to continue through quarterfinal and semifinal wins, clinching his spot in the gold medal final versus Luis Alvarez (MEX).
In the bronze medal matchup, it was Olympian Juan Rene Serrano (MEX) facing up and coming USA Archery Resident Athlete Jeremiah Cusick (Chula Vista, Calif.); Cusick, who had edged out five-time Olympian Johnson earlier, was unstoppable, taking the bronze medal with a 6-0 shutout.
The gold medal showdown between Alvarez and Ellison was a true contest of talented archers, with each archer taking two set points early on, and then re-tying the score at 4-all. In the final end, Alvarez turned up the heat to take the gold medal, with Ellison claiming silver.
"It was a good match; it was an intense match. I just focused on my technique, my timing," explained Alvarez after the win. The gold medalist shared his advice for younger competitive archers: "Never give up. I've failed too many times. Never give up. That's the only thing that's going to make you make it in the end."
The compound women's category had equally challenging matchups and just enough wind to keep things unpredictable. There were some surprising early exits, including USA's Diane Watson (Hudson, Fla.) and World No. 3 Erika Jones (Grand Island, Neb.).
Camilla Soemod (DEN) prevailed throughout all of her matches to meet USA's Van Natta (Toledo, Ohio). Clearly hoping to shoot her way into the coveted number one World Ranking spot, Van Natta edged out Soemod by two points to secure her position in the gold medal match, while Soemod went on to win the bronze versus USA's Tristan Skarvan (College Station, Texas).
Gabriela Trevino (MEX), who stopped favorite Linda Ochoa of Mexico earlier in the day, met Van Natta in the gold medal match, but had her hands full with Van Natta, who took an initial lead, nearly lost it, and then regained points through the fourth and fifth ends to retake the lead. Van Natta ultimately won the gold, with Trevino settling for silver.
For the compound men, Reo Wilde (USA) appeared to be virtually unstoppable yet again, shooting strong scores despite the wind, including a perfect 150 to win his semifinal meeting with Kevin Wilkey (USA). Mexico's Julio Fierro faced Jesse Broadwater (Jennerstown, Pa.) in the semifinal, but ultimately was stopped by Broadwater, who went on to meet Wilde in the gold medal final.
Fierro and Wilkey went on to prove to fans that bronze medal matches can be just as exciting as watching a gold medal showdown. Giving fans a fantastic match to watch, the two tied the breezy match at 144-all before Fierro took the tiebreaker win with an X to Wilkey's 9.
In the gold medal final, Broadwater and Wilde both brought their A-game to the field, tying the match for five consecutive ends before ending in a draw. In the one-arrow shoot-off that decided the match, Broadwater shot an X to Wilde's 10, claiming the gold medal.
"I did have to take some time off, and it kind of took some wind out of my sails," explained Broadwater, referring to the back injury that nearly sidelined him before the Vegas Shoot. "I'm all better now and really looking forward to practicing for this outdoor season. I've got some confidence now, and just want to keep it rolling."
Other medals won at the AAE Arizona Cup included gold medals for Mexico in the women's compound and women's recurve team events, with silver going to USA in both, and gold medals to Team USA in the men's recurve and compound team events, with Mexico taking a silver in each. Canada also clinched a bronze in the men's recurve team event.
For complete results, visit http://ianseo.net/Details.php?toId=373; check out usarchery.org for photos from each day of the 2013 AAE Arizona Cup.
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