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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Miranda Leek (USA/IA), dubbed the "American archery thunderbolt" by sportswriter Alan Abrahamson, proved she's got what it takes to hang with the best of them today, as she clinched her spot in the gold medal final at the World Archery Indoor Championships.
Leek, who shot her way through matches versus Kristine Esebua (GEO) and Naomi Folkard (GBR), will meet Natalia Valeeva, Olympic bronze medalist and multi-time world champion, in the final; Ksenia Perova (RUS) and Folkard will shoot for bronze. Leek's teammates, Jennifer Nichols (USA/TX) and Brandi DeLoach (USA/GA) retired after losses in the 1/8 and 1/16 respectively.
The recurve men's category produced some of the day's most surprising and exciting results, with Team USA's Victor Wunderle (USA/NC) - considered a strong contender at this event - getting knocked out in the 1/16. The semifinals featured an excitement-fueled matchup between favorite Brady Ellison (USA/AZ) and teammate Jake Kaminski (USA/CA) that turned out to be anything but predictable.
Kaminski, who came from behind to take Ellison to five sets, eventually won the matchup in a tiebreaker, shooting a ten to Ellison's nine. Kaminski will face Olympic champion Marco Galiazzo (ITA) for the gold, while Ellison will shoot versus Herlbert Dornhofer (AUT) for the bronze.
"I feel great, I definitely had an uphill battle the entire day, so it's definitely good to finally come out on top," Kaminski said. When asked about the significance of competition with Ellison particularly, he stated: "pretty much anyone would be excited about beating Brady, but I've done it numerous times, and I'm always confident going against Brady. It's my friend up there, but still, once I step on that line of course he's my enemy. If he's low on time, I'm still going to count down time for him just like I would for any other friend."
The compounds produced equally stunning results. On both the women's and men's sides, favorites were eliminated early in the matches, the most dramatic of which was Braden Gellenthien's (USA/VA) exit in the 1/16th; the number one ranked archer was stopped in a tight 6-5 tiebreaker by the 32nd seeded Gerardo Alvarado of Mexico. Teammates Reo Wilde (USA/ID) and Jimmy Butts (USA/NY) prevailed in each of their own matches, with Wilde defeating favorite Sergio Pagni (ITA) along the way. In the semifinals, both Butts and Wilde claimed victories, resulting in an all-USA gold medal match on Thursday, while Guillaume Rubben (FRA) and Julio Fierro (MEX) will shoot for bronze.
Equally surprising in the compound women's group was a close 4-6 loss for number one world ranked Erika Anschutz (USA/NE), who was unable to edge out Italy's Laura Longo in the 1/8 match. Teammate Tristan Skarvan (USA/WI) also faced difficulty with a tough 0-6 loss to Viktoria Balzhanova (RUS), who would ultimately go on to the gold medal match. Team USA's Christie Colin, however, was successful in her early matches, shooting winning scores all the way to the semifinals. Colin finally met her match in Inge Van Caspel (NED), who posted six set points to Colin's four; however, Colin will face Linda Ochoa (MEX) for the bronze medal in Thursday's final, while Van Caspel and Balzhanova will meet for gold.
On the junior side, the day saw some early eliminations for Team USA recurvers, but Daniel McLaughlin (USA/OH) and Ariel Gibilaro (USA/CT) remained in the hunt, with Gibilaro going all the way to the bronze medal match. Sean McLaughlin (USA/OH) and Jeremiah Cusick (USA/CA) were stopped in the 1/8 and 1/16 respectively; Daniel McLaughlin bowed out only after a 6-4 quarterfinal loss. For the women, Sarah Bernstein (USA/NJ) and LaNola Pritchard (USA/CA) ended in the 1/16 and 1/8 rounds respectively.
Gibilaro, the thirteenth seed, punched her ticket to the bronze medal match after taking three wins. Though she was unable to overcome Polina Rodionova (UKR), who took the bronze 6-4, Gibilaro expressed satisfaction with a fourth place World Championships finish in what was her first-ever international tournament. Kristina Timofeeva (RUS) will shoot for gold against Anastasia Pavlova (UKR) on Thursday in the women's group, while the men's group will feature Luca Maran (ITA) and Sjef Van Den Berg (NED) shooting for gold. Vitaliy Komonyuk (UKR) took bronze, 6-2 over Heorhly Ivanytskyy (UKR).
For the compounders, Team USA newcomer Lexi Keller (USA/WI) proved to be a force to reckon with, as the thirteenth ranked archer shot winning scores against four tough opponents to clinch her spot in the gold medal match versus Runa Grydeland (NOR). Marila Vinogradova (RUS) will shoot against Contessa Loh (SIN) for bronze. Other Team USA contenders in this group were Carli Cochran (USA/PA), stopped in her first match in the 1/8, and Sarah Lance (USA/MI), who was unable to overcome Loh in the 1/8.
There was equal success in the compound junior men's category, with Team USA's Bridger Deaton (USA/IA) and Garrett Abernathy (USA/SC) making their way to the medal rounds. It was a bronze medal victory for Abernathy today, defeating number one ranked Mike Schloesser (NED), while Deaton faced off against teammate Ben Cleland (USA/OH) in the quarters. Deaton emerged with a 7-1 victory, eventually winning in the semifinals and earning a spot in Thursday's gold medal matchup with Rheinhard Louw (RSA).
The excitement of the World Archery Indoor Championships continues this week with team eliminations on Wednesday, and finals and awards throughout the day on Thursday. USA Archery's coverage will continue daily throughout the week, with photo galleries on this website as well as news from the event on this website and on Twitter. The finals will be also broadcast live on YouTube for the first time in the history of the event.
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