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Ogden, Utah - The excitement in the stands at Lindquist Field was palpable tonight, as the U.S. compound archers took to the field to defend top World Rankings, reclaim World Cup titles, and - in the case of Rodger Willett, Jr. - become the second U.S. archer this weekend to win an unprecedented three World Cup Stages.
The evening opened with the women's compound bronze medal match, a battle between France and Canada. France appeared to struggle a bit despite the wind, including earning a yellow card for movement across the line, which set them back early on, allowing Canada to take a nine point lead after the second end. The "neighbors from the north" of the USA never looked back, taking a bronze medal victory, 222-216.
In the women's compound gold medal match, the U.S. women's team of Jamie Van Natta (OH/USA), Erika Anschutz (TX/USA) and Christie Colin (PA/USA) were determined to repeat their performance at the World Archery Championships in Torino, and stood a good chance, coming off a new world record in team rounds earlier this week. The team opened with a solid initial lead against the team from India, and steadily closed the door with shot after shot in the gold. Leading 112-106 at the half, the women of Team USA kept pushing forward to a 228-218 gold medal victory, with India taking the silver.
"We shot really well, everybody shot so awesome; it's a good feeling to compete with everyone doing so well," noted Christie Colin. When asked what she had been working on leading up to the event, Colin explained: "Just to get shots off and out there really clean, that's something I learned to do, and I'm getting much better at it."
Up next was the men's compound bronze medal match, in which the teams from Iran and France faced off. Solid shooting from both of these teams resulted in two draws, at the half and with one end to go. Tied at 173 all going into the last end, strong shooting from the Iranian team gave them the advantage, to take the bronze medal from France with a one point victory, 232-231.
The roar of the crowd at Lindquist Field was deafening as the U.S. compound men's team of Braden Gellenthien (VA/USA), World Champion Reo Wilde (ID/USA) and Logan Wilde (UT/USA) entered the field to take on the team from Canada featuring newly crowned World Champion Chris Perkins and World Champion Dietmar Trillus. These heavy hitters wasted no time, as Team USA kicked off the match with a one point 57-56 lead. Though Canada was a difficult opponent, the U.S. team was able to close the door, increasing their lead to three, then six points to finally take the gold medal with a 234-229 victory, giving Canada the silver.
Gellenthien then made his second of three appearances tonight, this time with mixed team partner Colin, to shoot against Italy's Marcella Tonioli and Sergio Pagni for the mixed team gold medal. Team USA picked up an initial five point lead, and never looked back. Dropping only two points out of 16 arrows, the team of Colin and Gellenthien secured the third gold medal of the night for the U.S. team, with a 158-151 win, and Italy taking the silver medal. "It's going great, the crowd atmosphere is amazing, the conditions are perfect," said Gellenthien following the match. "It's such a great feeling to have the home crowd, that's something we don't get very often, and it's unbelieveable."
Iran made its second appearance of the night during the women's compound bronze medal match, this time featuring Parsamehr Mahtab shooting against Laura Longo of Italy. Longo remained strong throughout the match, and though Mahtab came back with solid shots, Longo led by five points going into the final end. It was a bronze medal win for Longo, with a fourth place finish for Iran's Mahtab.
In the women's compound gold medal match, it was a tough matchup between number one world ranked archer Anschutz, versus Italy's Tonioli. These two strong archers were closely matched; though Tonioli took an initial five pont lead, Anschutz was able to come back, narrowing it to four points, then two, and then a tie at the last end. In the shootoff, though the roar of the U.S. crowd was deafening, Anschutz shot a nine to Tonioli's 10, taking the silver medal for the USA, and gold for Tonioli.
Reo Wilde then reappeared on the field, shooting versus Tonioli's teammate Pagni, and it was a battle of the World Champions. The match began with a two pont lead by Pagni, which he retained for two ends. Though Wilde bridged the gap, narrowing his opponent's lead to just one point, it was not enough to edge out the Italian, who won the bronze, 147-145.
The gold medal final between Gellenthien and Willett was the red, white and blue matchup of the evening. Willett, defending his number one world ranking and seeking an unprecedented third individual compound World Cup win, faced off against Gellenthien, who was the solid shooter in the mixed team and team finals. A situation with an official at the beginning of the match affected Gellenthien's timing, and resulted in a deficit, as Willett took a 29-27 lead.
With six arrows remaining, Gellenthien narrowed the gap, but Willett was able to hold him off, winning the gold medal with a 147-145 decision. "I'm very excited to win, I'm extremely happy, but at the same time, it's bittersweet," noted Willett. "Braden shot great all night; he outshot me, he outshot everyone on this field." When asked what he'd been working on in practice, Willett commented: "Just trying to stay focused and stay on a good practice routine; I've had a little issue with my form and I've just been working really hard."
The Archery World Cup continues with Stage Four in Shanghai in September. Both Willett and Brady Ellison have punched their ticket to the World Cup Final in Istanbul later this year; a list of all qualified archers was unavailable as of this writing. Complete results from this event are available at http://www.archery.org; replays of the final matches can be viewed at http://espn.go.com/espn3/index/_/sport/outdoors.
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