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MEXICO CITY, Mexico - The U.S. archers accomplished a great feat this outdoor season - qualifying for 5 spots in the 2015 Archery World Cup Final - the most of any country in the world. Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho) and Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona) each qualified for their sixth Finals, while Crystal Gauvin (Dayville, Connecticut), Collin Klimitchek (Victoria, Texas) and Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas) each qualified for their first Finals ever.
Experience did not prove to be key at this event as upsets shocked every bracket in the competition, including compound men, which saw each of the top four seeded archers out in the first round. Wilde fell to Turkey's Demir Elmaagacli 145-143 before Elmaagcli went on to take Turkey's first ever World Cup Final champion title.
Wilde, who had high hopes for this tournament, 10 years on from his World Cup Final win in Mexico in 2006, said he was happy just to have made the finals. "It's a pretty big honor to be one of the eight people in the world that can do it," he added.
The rookies had a bit more luck: Ellison and Klimitchek, who had gone head to head twice this year with one win a piece, were paired together in the first round match. Klimitchek, not intimidated by his teammate's resume or the fact that he was the youngest competitor in the event, took the win 6-2 over the world's only three-time World Cup Final winner.
Ellison explained that he struggled with his health during the event: "I've been sick since Brazil. I have good days, bad days. I had no strength all day; I'm dehydrated and worn down. I had a good day yesterday but today I could barely hold my bow inside the blue."
Brown also upset higher seeded archer Ana Maria Rendon of Colombia in the first round, but she and Klimitchek ended their runs there. 7th seeded archer from Spain and eventual gold medalist, Miguel Alvarino Garcia took out Klimitchek in the semifinals with a 7-3 victory. Klimitchek went for revenge in the bronze final, but fell just short. Coming from behind in the third set to split points with Kim Woojin, scoring matching 30s, Klimitchek picked up the fourth set as well, but was then barred from the podium.
Brown took on Choi Misun, another rookie who dominated the Archery World Cup series this summer in the semifinals, and the match was intense. A heartbreaking 6-4 loss sent Brown to the bronze match, where she was eliminated 6-0 by Taipei's Le Chien Ying.
Gauvin, the U.S.'s dominant compound woman this year, took on good friend and event hometown favorite Linda Ochoa in her first match. The two had gone back and forth in head to head matches all season, but Ochoa took the win 145-141 before going on to win bronze.
As so many upsets in the brackets determined podium finishes across all divisions, Wilde's comment about the prestige and honor just to qualify for this event stands poignant. To be one of the eight best in the world over an entire season is an impressive task, and these five U.S. archers made their country very proud.
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