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CHULA VISTA, California - The finals for the SoCal Showdown presented by AAE took place this morning at the San Diego County Fair in the Del Mar Race Track in front of a large crowd. Great exposure for the sport, heated matches intensified the excitement.
"It was exciting, it makes you nervous, and it makes you shake," commented Matt Nofel (Colorado Springs, Colorado) on his cadet recurve men's gold win over Brian Bullis Jr. (Glendale, Arizona). I had a good match with Brian and it was definitely cool to win gold on this stage."
Cadet compound gold winner Alexis Ruiz (Phoenix, Arizona) agreed this was her largest competition stage yet: "I was so nervous, I could feel my whole body shaking and I had to take a few deep breaths before my first shot and just focus on my process. Being in front of so many people instead of just archery people, it was awesome to win like that." Ruiz said she will celebrate her win at the fair. Ruiz took an early lead in her match with Athena Caiopoulos (Irvine, California) and held onto it for a solid gold win.
"It was interesting, the wind is really different here than the practice field, so I could kind of see the flags over there were going right to left, and left to right and it was important to get off to a good start for me," commented Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho) on his gold win over Braden Gellenthien (Hudson, Massachusetts) after also taking a solid early lead. "It's cool people getting to see archery and getting exposure, it's a little different than some of the other events and a really neat venue."
An international match in the compound women's gold final saw Slovenia's Toja Ellison take the win over Mexico's Stephanie Salinas in a close race. The recurve women's gold was contested by Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas) and Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, California). Lorig took the win 6-2 for the gold medal.
Collin Klimitchek (Victoria, Texas) won the recurve men's gold over Jacob Wukie (Fremont, Ohio: "It was a good match, it was really satisfying to finally win something," commented Klimitchek. "The biggest thing going through my mind was that pretty much every match of the day was won on target 2 and I was on target 1 so I was just trying to figure out what the wind was doing. When I realized it wasn't doing anything and I could just aim on, it was just easy from there, all about putting it in the middle and good expansion."
The event concluded with a team round exhibition match between the 2016 U.S. Olympic Archery Team and challengers from the Men's Excellence Program. The Olympic Team took the win 6-2 in front of a roaring crowd.
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