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March 18, 2011

Team USA Dominates World Ranking Event

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - If the IV Copa Merengue de Tiro Con Arco World Ranking Event is any indication, Team USA is off to a very promising start for the 2011 outdoor season. The team largely dominated yesterday's Qualification Rounds, bringing home 43 distance and FITA round medals, and continued their winning streak through today's Olympic Rounds.  

Contending with strong winds on the first day of competition, the men's recurve team opened by dominating the top four spots in their category, and never looked back. Richard "Butch" Johnson (Woodstock, CT) ended the day as in 1st place for the FITA round with a 1295, followed by Resident Athlete Jacob Wukie (Chula Vista, CA), who shot a 1292 for 2nd in the FITA. Fellow Resident Athlete Peter Kelchner (Albuquerque, NM), shot a 1271 for 3rd, followed by teammate Rick Tollis (Rochester, NY), who finished the day in the 4th spot with a 1253. 

For the women's recurve category, Team USA members performed well despite the wind, with Resident Athlete Heather Koehl (Sheboygan, WI) leading the pack, shooting a 1256. She was followed by Stefania Mora (ECU), with a 1239, and Denisse Van Lamoen (CHI), with a 1237. Cadet Archer Michelle Gilbert (Baltimore, MD), shooting in this event as a senior, ended the day in 4th place with a 1219; Nicole Rasor (Marana, AZ) finished in 7th, shooting a 1212, and Erin Mickelberry (Bothell, WA) shot an 1193 to end the day in 10th.

Ben Cleland (Swanton, OH), shooting a 1375, took the top spot in the FITA round for the compound men, while teammate Rodger Willett, Jr. (Gloucester, VA) ended just behind with a 1373. Jose Yunen (DOM) occupied the 3rd position in the qualifying round with his score of 1368; Team USA's Garrett Abernathy and Keith Trail (Aberdeen, NC) finished in 4th and 5th respectively, with scores of 1364 and 1363.

The compound women also fared very well in the qualifying round, occupying four of the top five spots by the end of the day. Paige Pearce (Red Bluff, CA) took 1st, shooting a 1354, while teammate Diane Watson (Hudson, FL) finished in 2nd with her score of 1331. Yolanda Lagos (ESA) took 3rd place with a 1327, while Team USA's Kendal Nicely (Gorham, ME) and Sarah Lance (Wyandotte, MI) ended the round in 4th and 5th places, shooting a 1324 and 1294, respectively.

Team USA members came out swinging for their second day of competition, facing a wind that archers characterized as "extremely tricky." All of the U.S. recurve men advanced as far as the quarterfinal matches, where Kelchner, Tollis and Wukie retired after shooting very close matches with their opponents. Five-time Olympian Johnson advanced to the gold medal match after a 7-3 semifinal victory over Miguel Veliz (ESA), where he met the sixth-seeded Oscar Ticas (ESA). Johnson took the first two sets and tied a third, finishing the match out with an X-10-9 for a 7-1 gold medal victory.

In the recurve women's group, Mickelberry and Rasor met in the 1/8 match, which Rasor took with a 7-3 win, while Gilbert retired following a close match in the same round. Rasor advanced to the quarterfinals, where she was defeated by Rosairys Guzman (DOM), 6-4. Following a narrow loss in the semifinals, Koehl advanced to the bronze medal match against Guzman, which she won with six set points to Guzman's 2.

It was an all-US podium for the compound men's category, in which Cleland, Willett and Trail all advanced to the medal matches. Trail met Abernathy in the quarterfinals, winning that match 6-2, and advanced to face Cleland in the semi-finals, who won that match by the same score. Trail went on to win the bronze medal with a shutout 6-0 win, while Willett, defeating Jose Yunen (DOM) in the semis with a decisive 7-3 win, went on to shoot against teammate Cleland for the gold. Shooting a match that was described by a fellow archer as a "shooting exhibition," the two opened with three tied sets, shooting 29s for each, before Cleland pulled ahead, eventually winning the gold, 7-3.  

For the compound women, it was Lance and Nicely facing one another in the quarterfinals, which produced a 7-3 victory for Nicely, who advanced to the semis to face Pearce, who advanced steadily throughout her matches. Watson advancing through the semifinals, ultimately earned a berth to the bronze medal match, which she took with a 6-0 win against teammate Nicely. Pearce, advancing to the gold medal match, met Lagos, who earned 4 set points to Pearce's 6, giving Team USA's Pearce the gold medal victory.

Archers will compete again on Saturday, when Team USA members will go for the gold once again, this time in team round match play. Follow USA Archery on Twitter for updates as they become available, or visit for scores from this event. 

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