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SANTIAGO, Chile – Team USA got off to a flying start on Wednesday on day one of the archery competition at the Pan Am Games, as both the men and women recurve and compound teams all qualified for their respective gold medal matches.
The USA will meet Mexico in both recurve gold medal matches on Saturday morning. The men’s team is made up of Brady Ellison, Jackson Mirich and Jack Williams (pictured above), while Catalina GNoriega, Casey Kaufhold and Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez make up the women’s trio.
The compound teams have already faced Mexico in the elimination rounds, albeit at the semifinal stage. And with what USA fans will hope is an omen, the pairings of Kris Schaff/Sawyer Sullivan and Olivia Dean/Alexis Ruiz got the better of their neighbors, 158-157 and 156-151. The men will take on El Salvador for gold on Saturday afternoon, with the women playing top seeds Colombia.
Kaufhold and Co. will be up against a Mexico team including Alejandra Valencia. Valencia and Kaufhold were placed one and two after individual qualification, though both shot 674. The Mexican archer was ranked higher due to her landing two more X’s (16-14). Mucino-Fernandez and GNoriega qualified eighth and 13th respectively.
Ellison was the leading archer for the USA in the recurve men, placing second behind world number one Marcus D’Almeida after qualification. Ellison, whose world record score of 702 set at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima Peru still stands, shot 685 to D’Almeida’s 689.
The USA had three archers inside the top 10. Williams is the fifth seed after a 678, with Mirich ninth, having posted a score of 671.
Ellison, Mirich and Williams then defeated the Independent Athletes Team (EAI) in the men’s team recurve quarterfinals, followed by Brazil in the semis. (The Independent Athletes Team is made up of athletes from Guatemala). The recurve women defeated Cuba (6-0) and then Colombia (6-2) to set up their Saturday showdown with Mexico.
Individual elimination starts on Thursday. Kaufhold tackles Marcela Cortez (ESA) in the 1/16 round, GNoriega faces Nilka Cotto (PUR), while Mucino-Fernandez meets Nancy Enriquez (EAI).
In the men’s recurve competition, Mirich meets Andrés Aguilar from host nation Chile, Williams takes on Daniel Velarde (PER), with Ellison facing Adrian Munoz (PUR).
There are also the important recurve mixed team elimination rounds taking place on Thursday. Ellison and Kaufhold make up the USA pairing. They have a bye to the quarterfinals.
The mixed team competition is one avenue open for the men to gain an all-important quota slot for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris. The slot would be secured by being either the highest placed mixed team, or for Ellison, Mirich or Williams to reach the gold medal match.
Not wanting to be outdone, the USA’s compound quality shone through in the afternoon. Schaff – who said ahead of the Games that he was in his best form of the year – set a new Pan American record in the compound men’s event, shooting 715. He beat the previous best, set by compatriot Braden Gellenthien (712) during the Pan Am Games in Lima four years ago. Schaff finished as top seed, with Sullivan nestled in nicely in sixth with a score of 703.
In the compound women category, the USA occupied second and fourth through Ruiz and Dean, with rivals Colombia taking first and third. Ruiz shot 705, to sit on the shoulder of world number two Sara Lopez (710). Lopez beat her own Pan American record of 708 set in 2019. Teenager Dean shot 699.
Individual elimination matches also take place for compound on Thursday. In the women’s event, Dean (pictured above) faces María José Zebadua (EAI) in her 1/8 round, with Ruiz taking on Beatriz Aliaga (PER). For the men, there’s a contest against Canada’s Tristan Spicer-Moran for top seed Schaff, while Sullivan meets Sebastian Garcia (MEX).