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March 13, 2024

Ellison and Kaufhold lead a field with sights set on Louisville but with half an eye on Arizona and beyond

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Qualifications and Trials resume in Arizona next month, most of the recurve archers involved in this week’s USA Archery Indoor Nationals Final will be there to resume their push for Paris.

Front-runners in the Trials, Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold, are the leading seeds in Kentucky. Ellison has been the silver medalist in the recurve men the past two years, while Kaufhold is aiming to make it five wins in a row at this event.

Last year’s gold medal in the men’s event went to Jack Williams. He returns this year as the second seed, and starts his defense against Alex Blaylock, who certified as a Level 4-NTS Coach in 2023. The winner of that contest will meet either Christian Stoddard or Landon Richardson, teammates at last year’s World Archery Youth Championships in Ireland.

The 2022 champion, Trenton Cowles, is in the same half of the bracket as Ellison, taking on fellow Texas A&M archer Alex Gilliam in the quarterfinals. Ellison awaits the winner as he has a bye to the last four.

Ellison, Cowles and Williams are the top three archers in the men’s division after two stages of the U.S. Olympic Team Qualifications and Trials. Of the others involved this week, Gilliam is joint-seventh, Stoddard sits ninth and Richardson is level with Jacob Wukie in 15th.

While six of the seven archers in the recurve men are involved in the U.S. Olympic Team Qualifications and Trials, all eight of the recurve women competing in Louisville will be on the line for Stage 3 in Arizona in just a few weeks.

Kaufhold is followed in the Team Trials points standing by her good friend, Catalina GNoriega, with Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez in third. Those three occupy the top three spots for the Indoor Nationals Final.

For Kaufhold, who has recently bid farewell to her teenage years, her defense inside the Kentucky International Convention Center begins against Isabella Kim. Kim sits 11th after two stages of the Olympic Team Qualifications and Trials. The last person to beat Kaufhold at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals Final was Mackenzie Brown in the 2018 gold medal match, since when the 20-year-old has dominated.

GNoriega faces another Texas A&M archer in Riley Marx. Marx is joint sixth in the chase for a place on the Olympic team. In the same side of the bracket, Mucino-Fernandez – a recurve mixed team gold medalist alongside Ellison at World Cup Stage 3 in Medellin, Colombia last June – faces Alex Zuleta-Visser.

A win for Kaufhold over Kim could set up a repeat of the 2023 U.S. Open gold medal match against Akshara Vijay. The 15-year-old from New Jersey defeated Kaufhold on that occasion. She meets U21 recurve women Gator Cup champion Samantha Ensign in the quarterfinals.

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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