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March 12, 2024

Brothers on a collision course and teen talent on display as barebow gets set for Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There will be men and women divisions for barebow at this year’s USA Archery Indoor Nationals Final, which could provide a slice of sibling rivalry on the one hand and emerging talent testing the old guard on the other.

Among those featuring in the men’s division will be top qualifier from the 14 regional events, Kyle Coffey, who claimed gold at last year’s USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals in Statesboro, Ga. He can expect tough competition from the likes of Marcus Cooley, Matt Hudson and brothers Brian and Nick Way. Brian was runner-up three years ago.

Coffey took gold in the compound men division during last year’s USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals in Statesboro, Ga. He is a junior at Union College in Barbourville, Ky., studying to be a middle school teacher. At 20 years of age, Coffey has a queue of veteran barebow archers seeking to teach him a lesson, among them 54-year-old Kevin Jensen and 52-year-old Marcus Cooley.

Cooley collected gold in the barebow men at the 2023 Arizona Cup and SoCal Showdown, and was the silver medalist at this event 12 months ago, when beaten by Robby Weissinger.

There are two brothers in the running, second seed Brian Way and his younger sibling Nick, the fifth seed. Brian begins against Hudson, while Nick meets Cooley in the opposite half of the bracket, meaning a medal meeting of the Way brothers is a possibility.

The youngest in the field meets the oldest, with Kentucky native Coffey beginning against Jensen. Completing the bracket is John Winker against Zackary Bisinger.

A strong field will also be assembled in barebow women, led by Fawn Girard. The 2023 USA Archery U.S. Open champion Francesca Benavidez will be in Louisville, as will 2023 Buckeye Classic and Gator Cup winner Maggie Brensinger and 2023 Arizona Cup winner Johana Czako.

Girard was a gold medal winner at last year’s Iguazú Pan American Field Championship in Argentina in the barebow mixed team event alongside Marcus Cooley. She also took individual gold in the barebow women event, and silver in the women’s team competition.

Benavidez burst onto the barebow scene last year, setting new U18 and U21 world records during the USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, just six months after taking up the sport. The U18 record she broke had previously been held by Brensinger.

Teens dominate the barebow women category, and include 14-year-old Medina Otajagic – the sixth seed – as well as two 16-year-olds in Ava Jones and Elizabeth Howe. The leading three seeds to emerge from Indoor Nationals, though, are the more seasoned archers in Girard, Czako and Manresa. Once again, we can expect the perfect blend of youth and experience this Thursday.

Howe, who begins against top seed Girard, defeated Benavidez to claim gold in the U18 compound women at last year’s SoCal Showdown. That pair could meet in the semifinals in Louisville, should Howe beat Girard and Benavidez overcome Brensinger. In the other half of the bracket, Czako and Jones meet first up, with Manresa and Otajagic completing the lineup.

The gold medal matches will be streamed live via Competition Archery Media and on USA’s Archery Facebook page on Thursday, March 14, from 5pm ET.

With generous support from Black Eagle Arrows, Conquest Archery and Darton Archery (compound division), Lancaster Archery Supply (barebow division) and T.R.U. Ball/AXCEL (recurve division), the total prize purse for this event will be more than $70,000, with payouts to all places.

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