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Under clear skies, some of the world's best archers took to a field lined with palm trees and surrounded by mountains at the first-ever SoCal Showdown, bringing their A-game to compete for medals as well as cash prizes and opportunity drawings from vendors such as title sponsor B-Stinger. The event, held at the Arco Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., opened with practice sessions on Thursday and Friday, followed by a 72-arrow qualification round shot at 70 meters on Saturday, and elimination round match play on Sunday. The SoCal Showdown, in addition to being a Junior and Senior U.S. Archery Team (USAT) Selection Event, was also a Para-USAT Selection Event, and featured the current national paralympic team as well as team hopefuls.
Archers in all classes kept the competition close throughout the first day, with the top three spots being contested from end to end in many groups. Following the first thirty six arrows, Olympian Victor Wunderle (NC) led the recurve men with a 341; he was followed by Olympic teammate and World Cup gold medalist Brady Ellison (CA), shooting a 338, and Resident Athlete Jacob Wukie (CA), who totaled 336 for the half. For the women, four time Olympian Khatuna Lorig (CA) led the pack with her 325 points; Hye Youn Park (CA) nipped at her heels, posting a 324, and Miranda Leek (IA), shooting as a senior for this event, held the third position with 316.
The compound archers also kept the many spectators on the edges of their seats during the first half; ultimately, reigning World Champion Reo Wilde (ID) came out on top for the first thirty-six with 355; World Cup standout Braden Gellenthien (VA) was a close second with 353, and Jaime Hafid (MEX) rounded out the top three, scoring a 352. The compound women also posted high scores, with National Champion Jamie Van Natta taking the lead with her 348; she was followed closely by World Cup bronze medalist Erika Anschutz (TX), who posted a 347, and World Cup teammate Diane Watson (FL), shooting a 335.
Archers in every group continued their struggle for top honors and qualification round awards during the second half of the round. Battling a breeze just variable enough to keep things interesting, Ellison fought his way back to the first-place position and took a commanding lead, finishing the day with 673 points. Wunderle ultimately qualified second, scoring a 665; National Champion Jake Kaminski (CA) also pulled his scores up in the second half to finish third with 663. For the women, Lorig never relinquished her hold on the top position, ending the day with 664; Park also remained in second, posting a 642; Leek finished the day in third with 624 points.
Compound archer Wilde, true to form, ended the day in front of his group, securing a strong lead over his opponents with 706. Darrin Christenberry shot well enough during the second half to unseat Gellenthien, posting a 693 to Gellenthien's 692; the pair qualified second and third, respectively. In the women's group, Anschutz did her part to qualify first, scoring 689 points, while Van Natta, shooting a 686, finished second. Watson retained her hold on the third spot with a 669.
Eighteen other classes competed in the qualifying round, including junior and cadet compound and recurve archers, as well as seven paralympic classes and three college groups. Notable top finishes included Paige Pearce with a 664 for the compound junior women; Matthew Zumbo (CA), who posted a 625 for recurve junior men; Russell Wolfe with a 566 for recurve AR2 men; Lee Ford, shooting a 546 to qualify first for recurve standing women, and Erin Mickelberry, qualifying first for college recurve women with her 603. Complete results for the qualifying round, for which all top-three placements received awards, are available at http://www.roadrunnerarchery.com.
Following the qualification round, archers gathered once more for a team round with a twist: competing not only for bragging rights, but also for cash prizes, including a $600 top prize to the winning team in each of four categories (men's and women's compound and recurve). The team round at the SoCal Showdown boasted the largest archer (and spectator) participation thus far of any team round at a national event this year. The event ultimately produced some surprises; for example, the male recurve team of "Steady, Aim, Pro," (comprised of Resident Athletes Nick Kale, Joe Fanchin and Jacob Wukie) defeated "Seventy Years in the Making," (Olympians Brady Ellison and Butch Johnson, along with National Champion Jake Kaminski) after a one-arrow shootoff with both teams tied at a 225. Similar surprises occurred elsewhere, with a team comprised mostly of juniors defeating the seniors in the women's compound group; however, all who participated, particularly the spectators, seemed to enjoy the fast-paced excitement of the team event.
Sunday dawned clear and warm as archers prepared for elimination round match play and the narrowing of the field. Winds remained relatively calm as each class was ultimately reduced to just four archers who would bring their A-game to shoot for medals as well as cash prizes: $1500 to the gold medalist in each group, $750 for silver, and $500 for bronze. The women's bronze medal matches were shot first, with Lorig facing Resident Athlete Kristin Braun (CA) for the recurve women, and Watson shooting against Sarah Lance (MI) on the compound side. After a hard-fought match and a one-arrow shoot-off, Watson emerged victorious from her contest to take the bronze, while Lorig took her bronze medal with a 6-2 decision.
For the men's bronze matches, Ellison faced David Marin (MEX) for the recurve medal, while Christenberry and Rodger Willett, Jr. (VA) contested the bronze for the compound men. Ellison and Christenberry both started out strong in their matches; though Marin tied one set, Ellison ultimately took the medal with a 7-1 score; Willett did come back to tie one set and win a second, but Christenberry ultimately won the bronze, 7-3.
The gold medal matches brought spectators to their feet, and the excitement of the crowd was contagious, as they had the benefit of arrow-by-arrow commentary along with up-close seating and large-screen video views of the targets as well as the archers. For the women, Van Natta faced Pearce; both women shot well enough to answer each other set-for-set; when the match came down to a single arrow, Van Natta drilled a single X to claim the gold, giving Pearce the silver. On the recurve side, third-seed Leek faced Resident Athlete Heather Koehl (CA) for the gold medal; though Koehl tied a single set, the junior Leek remained strong throughout to capture the gold during her first competition shooting in the women's senior recurve class.
The day concluded with the men's gold medal matches, and the excitement in the venue was palpable as Wilde faced Gellenthien for compound gold, while Kaminski and Wukie battled it out with their recurve bows. The match between Wilde and Gellenthien was a shutout victory for World Champion Wilde, as he clinched the gold with a 6-0 decision. The recurve match between "the two Jacobs," however, was fraught with excitement from beginning to end as the two Resident Athletes tied one another on three separate occasions during the match. National Champion Kaminski finally clinched his gold-medal victory by winning the final two set points, while Wukie took the silver in this hard-fought battle.
Complete results from the 2010 SoCal Showdown are available at host club Roadrunner Archery's website: http://www.roadrunnerarchery.com.
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