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LAUSANNE, Switzerland - If archery had a "Rookie of the Year" award, Bridger Deaton would probably win it.
When the 20-year-old compound shooter from Pella, Iowa started his season, he'd just earned a spot on the U.S. team bound for the Archery World Cup in Shanghai. That was in April, and it was Deaton's first World Cup experience.
What Deaton lacked in experience, he made up for in determination and hard work.
This morning, he joined teammate Erika Jones (Grand Island, Nebraska) - one of the world's best archers - in the mixed team gold medal match of the World Cup Final. The two took a 158-151 win over host country Switzerland.
Perhaps because one gold medal just wasn't enough, Deaton then went on to win the World Cup Final, an incredible victory for an archer in his first year on the World Cup circuit.
"I'm still kind of processing [it]," an emotional Deaton told World Archery. "Words can't describe how I feel."
To get to today's podium, Deaton had to first become one of the season's seven best male compound archers - no small feat in a division filled with World Champions and other veteran talents.
Then, Deaton had to win two matches, including a semifinal versus teammate Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho), a powerhouse in the compound division.
"During the semi-finals I was behind Reo a little bit," Deaton explained. "After the first few ends I knew I had to shoot almost perfect to catch up. So I would have been happy either way, with the gold or the bronze final, but I'm very glad it turned [out] to be the gold."
In that compound final, Deaton faced France's Pierre Julien Deloche, currently ranked number one in the world. The American archer took no chances: he shot clean - meaning perfect tens - for his first eleven arrows versus Deloche.
That consistency gave Deaton a final score of 148-144 for the gold medal win.
Jones also had individual success of her own, passing Colombia's Alejandra Usquiano and Toja Cerne of Slovenia to reach the gold medal final versus Colombia's Sara Lopez.
Though Jones came up two points short in the final versus Lopez, she achieved a silver medal - her fourth individual podium finish at a World Cup Final.
Wilde went on to win the men's bronze medal against Netherlands superstar Peter Elzinga.
On not making the gold medal final, Wilde reflected: "It was tough…they felt good. So I can't explain it, but Deaton shot good. He put himself in a situation to win and I ended up just not doing as well the last [match]."
Tomorrow, the World Cup Final continues with the recurve event, including two Olympic medallists from the United States: Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski.
The showdown to watch: Ellison's first match, a quarterfinal meeting with rival and Olympic champion Oh Jin Hyek of Korea.
The entire event tomorrow will be live streamed from Switzerland. Watch it free, beginning at 5 a.m. Eastern, at http://archy.re/WCF2014. Results and photos from today's event may also be found at that link, courtesy of World Archery.
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