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DUBLIN, Ohio - The U.S. Open was contested in the beautiful Daree Park today. After two days of qualification in perfect weather conditions where national records fell left and right, the morning started foggy and then turned to a rainy downpour with lightning delays. The sun came out and the wind picked up as the elements became a challenge for many competitors. Prevailing through, top senior competitors went head to head for gold on the big stage in front of cheering fans.
Barebow was added to the program and in the opening match, experienced Team USA archer Kim Hartman took on Sarah Briscoe, who began archery just one year ago. Hartman and Briscoe alternated set wins to get to a 4-4 tie, but with strong shots to finish, Briscoe took the win 6-4. Tracey Francis took home the bronze earlier in the day with a 6-0 sweep over Melody Richards.
Ben Rogers, who is eligible to compete in the Masters 70+ division, took on tough competition in John Demmer III this weekend. The strong favorite to win, Demmer fell to Rogers in qualification, and was determined for redemption in today's finals. Rogers continued crushing incredible scores, and the two forced a 5-5 tie and one arrow shoot off. Rogers shot first and scored a 9, turning on the pressure. Demmer closed with a 10 to take the win and the gold.
"Ben has been a tough competitor as usual, he shot a very good qualification score, was excellent in the two team events, head to head matches, and pulled out some tough wins earlier today, so I knew he was going to be a very challenging opponent in the finals," commented Demmer. "I know he doesn't get too excited, maintains his composure throughout and I'd have to be pretty on top of my game to have a chance."
On joining the compound and recurve finals on the finals field, Demmer added: "I'm very excited for that opportunity for barebow. I was hoping we all could put on a decent show to show that there is desire for people to shoot barebow, showcase us a little bit, even if it's just once a year, to get more people excited and seeing that there are opportunities beyond 3D and indoors for barebow."
In the bronze match, 6th seed Gregory Nunes clinched a close 6-2 win over John Dillinger.
In the compound women's final, Breanna Theodore faced Vegas Champion Alexis Ruiz. Both opened with 30s, and went back and forth with close scores and were tied 116-116 headed into the final three arrows. Theodore closed the match with the win by just a point - 144-143 to earn the gold. Filled with emotion, an excited and humble Theodore commented: "This means a lot to me because I've been putting in the work, and not seeing results can be frustrating. I know you have to keep practicing and trying harder, but finding motivation can be a challenge. This win motivates me to step it up and keep pushing, moving forward and gaining confidence. This tournament was a huge confidence booster for me. I shot my second highest qualification scores, which was a great accomplishment. I focused on making good shots and it showed on the paper."
Mackenzie Brown had also felt some frustration with hard work not paying off the way she hoped. In qualification, Brown had great confidence and shot impeccably, but fell just one point short of the champion title that went to Casey Kaufhold (who won bronze today over Khatuna Lorig). The two were almost 50 points clear the rest of the field, but nevertheless, the silver was a frustration. Determined to take the U.S. Open championship, Brown dominated matches, including a 6-0 gold win over Eliana Claps.
"When we're training for these events, we work really hard, so when your expectations don't become reality, it is frustrating, especially by such small margins," commented Brown. "On the other hand, to know that so much work has gone into it is encouraging; I've worked really hard to get here and it's paid off. I'm really happy with how I shot this competition because it's been my best of the year and though it didn't all go as consistently as I'd like, it was enough for the win and that makes me happy today."
Matt Requa has also worked incredibly hard in the Resident Athlete program, where he and Brown live and train full time at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. Taking his first major senior win at the Texas Shootout last year, Requa was thrilled to take an impressive gold win over Olympian Brady Ellison in today's final. Requa was up 4-2 after three sets, and with ties over the next two, he won the match 6-4 to earn the title. Alex Bourdage and Joony Kim, also both Resident Athletes, qualified 3rd and 5th respectively and shot their way into the bronze final. After opening with matching 27s, Bourdage turned it on and cleaned out the match 7-1 to win.
Tate Morgan and Braden Gellenthien went head to head for the compound men's gold. Both refused to open the door for the other with strong 148s to force a one arrow shoot off. A perfect X sealed the win for Morgan, his second U.S. Open title in three years. Morgan commented: "This tournament had a lot of great competitors and knowing what's on the line with national titles, ranking points and the team trials, everyone was bringing their a-game. Shooting against these guys at their best is always challenging. Pulling off the win today means a lot to me and makes me look forward to the next one. I can't wait to return to Dublin for the Buckeye Classic later this month."
Top qualifier Jamie Van Natta and James Lutz closed out the compound podiums, winning bronze.
Complete results from the competition are available here. Official photos from the events are available here. Follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more from the event. Join the conversation with #OutdoorNationals.
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