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CHULA VISTA, California - If you're thinking the archery season is nearly over - after all, this weekend's SoCal Showdown is the third of four USAT Qualifier Series Events this year - think again. There are eight major international events between now and the end of the outdoor season, three national-level events, and the beginning of the three-stage U.S. Olympic Team Trials process.
This weekend's SoCal Showdown, an important national team qualifier and host of two Team Trials events, was the perfect proving ground for the country's top athletes in Para, Cadet, Junior and Senior categories. A pivotal mid-season event offering a valuable opportunity to find flaws in technique, correct equipment errors, and get everything into top shape, before the next important event: the U.S. National Target Championships, U.S. Open, and Easton JOAD Nationals, known as "Outdoor Nationals," beginning July 1 in Decatur, Alabama.
In great shape heading into "Outdoor Nationals:" the twelve cadet archers who climbed the podium today, having shot their 72 arrow qualification rounds yesterday before heading into elimination round matchplay today. If some faces seemed familiar, it was because a couple of the medalists actually clinched World Titles just a week ago, finishing on top at the World Archery Youth Championships.
Today, Dane Johnson and Daniel O'Connor achieved gold and silver medal finishes in the compound cadet men's category at SoCal Showdown; the two were just crowned team World Champions last weekend and finished a mere two points apart today. Joining them on the podium: Jesse Clayton, who edged out cub-shooting-as-cadet Spencer Yee for the bronze medal.
Savannah Vanderwier has had strong placements this season, and the SoCal Showdown is no exception. This time, though, she had a gold medal win, facing off with Niuzhet Rodriguez in the compound cadet women's final; Vanderwier took the win with a 141-124 lead. Earning bronze: Lindsay Weatherspoon, finishing 5 points ahead of competitor Samantha Taylor.
Isaac Han is the SoCal Showdown champion in the recurve cadet men's category; he took his gold medal with a close 6-4 win over silver medalist Jack Williams. The pair were joined by Geun Kim, who just returned home with a team silver medal from the World Archery Youth Championships. Today, it was a bronze medal win for Kim, who met Ji Dam Lee in the finals.
Christine Kim, who has seen two finals already this season, struck gold in the recurve cadet women's finals, shooting a 6-0 shutout match versus Amy Jung, who settled for silver. Danielle Park earned the bronze medal after an exciting 5-5 matchup with competitor Haley Petersheim. The match went to a closest-to-center shoot-off, which Park won with an 8 versus Petersheim's 7.
Cadets weren't the only competitors today; though they've finished their event at the SoCal Showdown, the para, senior and junior archers have just gotten started. Para archers shot their qualification rounds yesterday, while those competing in the U.S. Team Trials for the World Archery Para Championships had an additional Team Round Simulation today that was part of the Team Trials process.
The Team Trials are critical for this group, who are fighting for tickets to the World Archery Para Championships, to be held in Germany in August. The squad will also attend the Parapan Am Games in Toronto that same month. Perhaps most importantly, this team will have the opportunity to qualify Team USA's spots for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, an exciting challenge for the team that's selected. The Team Trials process will continue on Sunday with Round Robin matchplay.
Finally, junior and senior archers have completed their SoCal Showdown qualification rounds today; their performances today will seed them into brackets for head-to-head matchplay, which begins tomorrow. Para archers will also continue on to elimination rounds tomorrow as part of the SoCal Showdown competition before moving on to the Team Trials event. And there's one important team still to be decided this weekend: the team of compound archers who will travel to the World Archery Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark in July; their Team Trials process began in Florida in April, and will continue and conclude on Monday.
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