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DONAUESCHINGEN, Germany - The World Archery Para Championships kicked off yesterday with qualification, which was spread over two days for the many categories competing this year. World Archery provided a great explanation of the classifications here. Competition was fierce as multiple world records were smashed and few points separated top archers.
After a scorching hot performance at the Parapan American Games earlier this month, where Team USA took home eight of twelve possible medals and clinched four Paralympic quota slots, the U.S. archers are expecting top finishes this week as more quota slots are up for grabs.
2012 Paralympic silver medalist Matt Stutzman (Salt Lake City, Utah) led the U.S. compound open men. While Italy's Alberto Simonelli held onto first for the 72-arrow round, Stutzman finished the half in second but ultimately landed 4th in the rankings with a 690.
"I realized that the field is really tight and this is probably the toughest tournament I have been to, points wise," Stutzman explained. "We're talking one or two points off a few places. The sport is a lot greater now, everyone is pushing everyone."
Parapan American Games Champion Andre Shelby (Jacksonville, Florida) qualified 9th with 684 and Ben Thompson (Ladson, South Carolina) qualified 16th with 680, seeding the team 2nd.
Paralympic gold medalist Jeff Fabry (Lemoore, California) took a top three finish for the U.S. qualifying 2nd with 650, Paralympians Jerry Shields (Gainesville, Florida) and Chuck Lear (Lees Summit, Missouri), rounded out the W1 men's team qualifying 23rd and 25th 578 and 563 putting the team in the 3rd seed.
Lia Coryell (LaCrosse, Wisconsin), Team USA's sole entry in the W1 women's category, finished 9th with 503, and will shoot the mixed team event with Fabry, together ranked 5th. Janice Walth (Lodi, California) took the top seed for VI by 71 points with 362.
Kinga Kiss-Johnson (McCormick, South Carolina) climbed the rankings this morning - her second 36 arrows were the second highest scoring on the field - to finish 9th with 583. Natalie Wells (Manteca, California) and Teresa Wallace (North Charleston, SC) finished 27th and 36th putting the team in the 6th place seed.
"MouthTab Chick" Samantha Tucker (Colorado Springs, Colorado) finished 25th with 630 for the compound women open. She shared on social media: "I'm so grateful for everyone who has supported, believed and encouraged me over the last 8 months. I'm honored to represent my God, country, family and friends throughout my Road to the Paralympics."
Tucker's teammate, 2013 World Archery Para Championships silver medalist Martha Chavez (Lemoore, California) qualified 27th with 623.
Paralympian Eric Bennett (Surprise, Arizona) finished 8th with 629 for recurve men open, while teammates Michael Lukow (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Timothy Palumbo (Buffalo, New York) were 17th and 19th, both with 616s for a team score of 1,861 - 27 points higher than the previous world record - for a 3rd place seed.
Competition resumes tomorrow with team elimination matches through the semifinals. Complete schedule and results can be found here. For updates from the field, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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