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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Archery kicked off at the 2016 Paralympic Games today with 72 arrows of qualification for all divisions. Four U.S. archers made it into the top eight in their divisions, and at one point all three compound open men held onto the top three spots, taking turns sitting in first place for much of the day. The U.S. is poised well going into medal matches beginning tomorrow.
Kevin Polish (Carmichaels, Pennsylvania) - the lifelong archer who only just discovered Paralympic archery and took up competition in USA Archery just in time for Trials to make the team - shocked the world, finishing second in the compound open men's rankings with a 685. Just behind Kevin with 684 is Matt Stutzman, reigning Paralympic silver medalist, who ranked 4th after a challenging second half. Andre Shelby (Jacksonville, Florida) also faced a challenging second half and qualified 12th.
Samantha Tucker (Nampa, Idaho) qualified 17th and together with Polish ranked 9th for the mixed team competition. Tucker attributed windy conditions as a troubling factor on social media. Reigning W1 Paralympic Champion Jeff Fabry (Leemore, California) agreed: "The wind was just enough to make you cross-eyed!"
Fabry and Lia Coryell (LaCrosse, Wisconsin) scored high enough to qualify 3rd for the mixed team competition and 11th and 7th respectively in the individual brackets. Coryell's score was a personal best at the best time to be in peak form.
World Champion Eric Bennett (Surprise, Arizona) qualified 7th for the recurve open men, one spot higher than his qualification placement from the World Championships last year. He shared: "I didn't shoot my best today but overall I am pleased to be in the top 8. Conditions were great and there were some good scores shot. I'm looking forward to eliminations on Tuesday and the chance to try and shoot for a medal."
Michael Lukow (Salt Lake City, Utah), who qualified 23rd behind Bennett, commented: "Not my best day's work but it was a good day to shoot. I have high hopes for elimination and will shoot well. Ranking was good and the gentlemen I shared a target with were wonderful to shoot with. The organizers ran it all very well."
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