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WROCLAW, Poland - Coming off of Team USA's hottest qualification day in a long time, and four medal wins yesterday, the recurve team was poised for greatness with a shot at gold in each of the four Olympic events.
"I watched the match before to see if I could see which way the wind was going," said LaNola Pritchard (Lehi, Utah), who shot first in the trio's rotation, with five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, California) following her. "When I stepped up there first, it was my job to put the first shot out there, get everyone started."
They took advantage of a pair of sevens from the team from Georgia in the first set to jump to a 2-0 lead. The second set went the same way, 54-51 in favor of USA for the 4-0 lead. Going for the perfect three-set shutout, Pritchard, who said she'd been "working on her timing" a lot since Copenhagen, put in a 10, then Lorig matched the arrow.
Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas) needed a nine to seal a win. She, too, put in a 10 - a perfect 30 to finish and seal the win. Brown commented that the competitive ladies support each other and "match well together."
Was Brown -the alternate for the World Championships team- the missing link in Copenhagen? After this morning's historic team win, she had a second chance for gold on the finals field for the individual win. She took an early 4-0 lead, which quickly moved to a 5-5 tie for a shoot off. Brown was the picture of calm and confidence as she scored a perfect 10 and took her first World Cup Stage individual win.
The recurve men's team echoed the women - after two sets, Collin Klimitchek (Victoria, Texas), Sean McLaughlin (West Chester, Ohio), and Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona) were up 3-1 over Germany. The third set came down to the final arrow - USA would need a 10 to win.
Unprecedented 3-time World Cup Final Winner and two-time Olympian Ellison, the third in rotation for the pressure shot, loosed a 9. The match went 4-2 and the fourth set again came down to the final arrow. Needing only a 9 this time, Ellison took a deep breath, drew, released and cleared easily into the 10 earning Team USA its first recurve men's team gold medal since Ellison's powerhouse stretch in 2010-'12.
Zach Garrett (Wellington, Missouri) shot his way into the gold medal final for recurve men - giving the USA the chance for wins in all four Olympic events. Garrett and Jean Charles Valladont of France went back and forth throughout the match to force a shoot off. Valladont took the win, leaving Garrett with the silver.
But Garrett still came away with a major win - hailing from the "Show Me State," this young archer showed the world the most 10s at this event and won the Longines Prize for Precision, as was his goal for the tournament.
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