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LANSING, Michigan - USA Archery opened the 2016 U.S. National Outdoor Collegiate Championships this afternoon with official practice. With over 300 archers competing from 37 schools around the nation, school spirit was in full force and the competition promises to be fierce.
"The MSU Archery Club has been excited for this tournament since we were granted this bid," commented event host Michigan State Archery Tournament Director Eric Beaudry. "The Lansing community is a great place for these avenues. Being a part of a community that is so supportive really makes this tournament stand out. Being able to showcase this high profile tournament to this area's next generation archers and collegiate archers is greatly rewarding. Archery is becoming more popular and this tournament can help set goals for these up and coming athletes!"
Historically, James Madison University and Texas A&M University are top contenders for the prestigious National Team Championships Award. A&M Coach Frank Thomas commented: "We're shooting well and are hopeful everyone will shoot to their capability. Gig 'em Aggies!"
James Madison Coach Andy Puckett is also confident in his team: "I think we stand a good chance to make a run at the championship this year. We have a strong team. We are a little weak in some spots with some new, inexperienced archers, but they have proven themselves on the field this year in a surprising way, so I think our chances are looking pretty good to make a strong showing."
Columbia University only competes in the compound and recurve women's divisions, but is currently the reigning team champion in both divisions. Senior captain for the compound women's team Julie Hoffman commented: "We've had a rough year, we lost our practice space, but everyone's really put in the effort to show up with our more flexible schedule. I think we're going to finish out this season really strong. Go Lions!"
Also hot to watch this weekend are host MSU shooters Chris and Emily Bee. Emily just returned from the Archery World Cup in Colombia with a team silver medal, and Chris medaled twice at the 2015 World Archery Youth Championships. Both are looking strong for the compound brackets and we may see them compete together in the mixed team event!
Texas A&M's Heather Koehl is still in the running for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Archery Team, and University of Arizona's Madison Eich, A&M Aggie Karissa Yamaguchi, and Arizona State shooter Jeremiah Cusick all qualified in the top 16 in the Olympic Trials as well and will be top podium contenders.
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