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June 21, 2014

SoCal Showdown Heats Up With Strong Qualifications Despite Wind

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The famous San Diego "June Gloom" - which covered the archery field at the U.S. Olympic Training Center - couldn't dampen the joy of over 460 archers, who took to the field today for the SoCal Showdown, presented by Flexor. Smiles and sunshine lit the field as arrows began hitting targets, with archers competing for medals and national rankings.

As the third USAT Qualifier Series Event of 2014, the SoCal Showdown is hosting some of the best archery talent in the country. Though there are some notable absences - Braden Gellenthien, Jennifer Nichols and Jesse Broadwater among them - the level of competition on the field was as hot as the Southern California temperatures, and it will only get hotter as archers progress to head-to-head matchplay tomorrow.

"It's nice to be able to compete against high level athletes when we come here," explained Canada's Virginie Chenier, who led the recurve junior women's group. Chenier is competing as part of a women's team from Canada, who are using some of the U.S. tournaments as training events to prepare for Rio 2016 qualifications. "Today was about learning to play with the wind, seeing where the arrows go and trying to deal with that."

The wind - which was described as "variable" by several athletes - didn't stop Olympic medalist Jake Kaminski, who ruled the recurve men's group with a solid 662.

"I felt like I made pretty good shots, and I'm again happy that I've made progress and I've shot well for the fifth or sixth tournament in a row. It's extra reaffirming that I am doing the right things and I'm making the right changes, and it's finally making a difference," he commented. Kaminski finished ahead of Olympic teammate Brady Ellison, and Rio 2016 hopeful Sean McLaughlin.  

Athletes LaNola Pritchard and Mackenzie Brown led the recurve women, followed closely by Erin Mickelberry; in fact, the score difference was just two points between first and third place.

For the compounders, Erika Jones again proved why she's ranked number one in the world: trailing just by a point or two throughout today's round, she pulled ahead on the final end to take the number one spot. Following close behind - one point to be exact - was Crystal Gauvin, followed by Lexi Keller.  

Henry Bass was the top ranked archer for the compound men, also gaining an advantage in the final arrows of the day. Reo Wilde stepped up to take the number two spot, while Steve Anderson- who led for most of the round - finished in third.

The SoCal Showdown is also a ranking event for para archers, and they turned out in force today, a promise of growth in the para divisions. Paralympic medalists Matt Stutzman and Jeff Fabry each led the compound bow standing men's and compound bow W1 men's categories, respectively; Lyne Tremblay and Martha Chavez each finished the day with solid scores in the compound bow W1 and W2 women's categories. Jonathan Mize led the compound W2 men. For the recurvers, Paralympians Lee Ford and Russell Wolfe claimed the top spots in the recurve bow standing women and recurve bow W2 men's categories; Timothy Palumbo led the recurve standing men.

Junior archers qualified in their own categories today, but will be ranked with seniors tomorrow for purposes of elimination round match play. Chenier topped qualifications for the recurve junior women, while Dylan Hwang was the number one ranked recurve junior male archer.  Tyson Pruitte earned the top spot for the compound junior men, while Angelica Ramirez finished out front for the compound junior women.

Top qualifying younger archers also put up very strong scores, and youth participants made up a significant percentage of the event's competitors. On the recurve cadet men's side, it was Minsoo Kim who scored the top spot, shooting a 653, while Eliana Claps topped qualifications in the recurve cadet women's category with a 637. The compound cadet categories were led by Samuel White for the men, and Allie Blazek for the women; both put up strong scores despite tough competitions in their categories.

When asked how she felt about her score, Claps commented: "well, they're a little bit lower than my average, but I shot pretty well for the wind." Reflecting on her long-term goals, Claps talked about Rio: "I want to be an Olympian," she said. "First goal is to make an Olympic Team and my second goal is to win it."

To follow live scoring during Sunday's finals, visit USA Archery will carry live coverage on Facebook and Twitter, and BowJunky is expected to carry post-event video coverage. 

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