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DUBLIN, Ohio - The fourth and final United States Archery Team (USAT) Qualifier Series Event has come to a close today at the Buckeye Classic. After a long season of intense competition, national ranking points came down to a whirlwind race to the finish and several fresh faces topped the podiums in strong performances.
The compound senior men's bracket in particular saw many upsets. Chris Bee was "the killer Bee" in match-play, coming from a 33rd place seed in qualification to upset Brad Rega in a one arrow shoot off the first round with an X that could not have been more dead center, and then top seed Reo Wilde in another shoot off before also taking out 16th seed Steve Anderson in a third shoot off. In the quarterfinals, Shane Willis eliminated Bee 145-141, and went on to finish 4th to bronze medalist Braden Gellenthien.
"I didn't do well at all in qualification," commented Bee. "We shot our first elimination round yesterday. I did really well, went to a one arrow shoot off, pinned it, like right on the spider and then going into today, my shots were still feeling really good. I shot a 142 against Reo, with a 7, so I was doing really good, we ended up tying and I shot a really solid 10 and it was closer than Reo's so I went against Steve. We both shot 142s again, went to one arrow shoot offs again, and I ended up winning that too and then got knocked out by Shane Wills, which was alright, I was still happy with how I shot. It was a fun day."
Taking gold and silver for the compound senior men were Matt Sullivan and Dan Jasa. Ohio local Jasa had his first podium finish, while Sullivan took his third consecutive USAT gold finish, clinching the win in the final three arrows, 144-143.
"Just finishing on top was the idea," commented Sullivan. "I started this season well, made every medal match at all the USATs this year: gold in all but 4th in Arizona Cup. Nationals was rough, so I knew I had to do better at this one, so I came out strong, and just kept playing and grinding through and never gave up."
The compound senior women's bracket also saw a lot of major shakeups as top seed Paige Pearce fell 137-138 to D'arce Hess in the 1/8th, 2nd place qualifier and U.S. Open Champion Breanna Theodore fell to Alexis Ruiz in the quarterfinals 146-145 and 3rd seed Danielle Reynolds also dropped 142-139 to collegiate archer Sophia Strachan in the quarters. Strachan and Ruiz went on to shoot for gold, with Ruiz capping a stellar season with a 141-137 victory.
On the recurve senior women's field, top seed and National Champion Casey Kaufhold was upset 6-4 in the 1/8th round 6-4 in a close match with Darcy Gill. 7th seed and U.S. Open Champion Mackenzie Brown battled through today from a struggle in qualification to upset 2nd seed Eliana Claps in the quarterfinals and then went on to take gold over Khatuna Lorig 6-4. Resident Athlete Megan Tan rounded out the podium with her first senior USAT medal finish following a 6th place qualification and bronze final shoot-off win over Canada's Virginie Chenier.
Fewer surprises on the recurve men's field saw top qualifier Brady Ellison clinch the gold over Canada's Crispin Duenas in a 6-0 shut out, while 5th seed and U.S. Open champion Matt Requa won bronze over 3rd seed Jack Williams 6-2.
For the compound cadet men, it was 13-year-old Nathan Zimmerman, who won the gold medal after a 6th place qualification. Shooting in the final matchup against Sawyer Sullivan, another cub shooting up as a cadet for this event, Zimmerman sealed the win 142-139.
Zimmerman hopes to one day make archery his career and is on a good track: "It was kind of nerve-wracking, but ultimately it was just me and my friends - all the kids on the podium are actually all on my JOAD team, so it was a fun experience," he shared. "I prepared a lot for this shoot and I think it helped to make new friend and have a lot of fun together."
Trenton Cowles, Team USA's representative for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games this fall, topped qualification and clinched the gold 7-1 over Connor Kaufhold in Kaufhold's best USAT finish to date in the largest division on the field.
Kaufhold shared: "It was a little rough in qualifications, but during my first few matches I was shooting really well. I lost focus on the wind a little in my last match, so it ended up costing me a few points. I wanted to do well in this tournament because I knew it would help me with the USAT ranks. I knew I was on the edge of making it and knew a good run here would help a lot. Making USAT is a goal for me because it shows how consistent you can be. It's nice to have everything stack up to show that you can shoot well over time, rather than just at one tournament."
In the masters recurve divisions, top qualifiers Sue Bock and Scott Risinger continued strong today to win the gold finals, as did master compound men's No. 1, Tim Grapentien, while Brenda Bond upset top qualifier and Olympian Debra Ochs for the compound master women's gold.
"The wind was tough initially, but all in all, this was a beautiful venue, this tournament was so nice," commented Rissinger. "Our division is a lot of fun, this is like going out to miniature golf with these guys; we have a good time, it's enjoyable and we're all great friends."
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