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MEDELLIN, Colombia - Competing in nine of fourteen gold medal matches at the Pan American Championships today, USA archers finished out an outstanding performance at this prestigious continental event. After earning the maximum possible quota slots for the 2019 Pan American Games, where compound archery will debut on the program, the U.S. athletes went on to bring home 32 podium finishes across the youth, masters, para and senior events.
USA's recurve women's team of Olympic bronze medalist Khatuna Lorig, Olympian Mackenzie Brown and bronze medalist of this event, LaNola Shepherd took on a strong team of several Olympic medalists from Mexico for gold. With matching 51s, the teams split the first set. Then a strong 54 gave the U.S. the second. Close arrow calls for Mexico on the third set determined another split set to bring the score to 4-2 in the USA's advantage. Pulling out another 54, the U.S. clinched the win. Leading into the start of qualification for the Olympic Games, this strong team performance is a big confidence builder and positive sign for the U.S. women.
In the next match, Olympic medalist Brady Ellison joined Jack Williams and Matt Requa to shoot against Chile for the recurve men's team gold. The trio was on fire, scoring 53, 56 and 56 to clean a 6-0 shut out victory over Chile's sets of 49, 55 and 52.
Ellison immediately returned to the stage with Brown for the recurve mixed team gold with a talented duo from Brazil. Brazil waivered, opening with a 30 to USA's powerful 38 match-opener. The teams split the second set, but USA came back to nab the gold victory with another 38 to Brazil's 36.
Shooting on the big stage for her third out of four consecutive matches, an impressive and uncommon feat, Mackenzie Brown took on Mexico's Alejandra Valencia for the individual women's title. Valencia took the first set by one point, followed by a set win for Brown by one point. A 26-24 gave Valencia the 4-2 advantage, but with a 28 to Valencia's 25, Brown brought the match back to a tie again. Fighting strong, both smoked 29s to force a shoot off, but Valencia's 9 won the gold over Brown's 8.
Lance Thornton and Richard Burkett Jr. went head to head for the para compound open men's gold. After opening with a 29 and 30 to Thornton's 28s, the match was three points in Burkett's favor. Then Thornton pulled a perfect 30 of his own to Burkett's 28 and in the final three arrows, Burkett fired a 6 and Thornton took the opening and clinched the win 142-140 for the gold. In a full U.S. podium sweep, Ben Thompson earned the bronze over Paralympic Champion Andre Shelby earlier in the week. Thompson and Shelby also earned gold in the team event with Burkett.
The U.S. also earned a para recurve open men's podium sweep. The gold medalist team, who set a new Pan Am record earlier in competition, saw Michael Lukow earn the bronze and then today, Timothy Palumbo and Kevin Mather went head to head for gold. Mather opened with the 2-0 advantage, taking the first set 25-24. With matching 24s, the two split the second set, and then a 26-23 set win for Palumbo brought the match to a 3-3 tie. The closely matched archers split the fourth set also with 26s, and coming down to the final arrows to determine the match, Mather took the gold win with a 26 to Palumbo's 22.
Bridger Deaton, in his largest gold medal match appearance in several years, took on Mexico's Hidalgo. They struggled in the start, each scoring an 8 in the first end. After 6 arrows, Hidalgo was up 56-54 and the two matched arrow for arrow over the next 6 arrows to keep the two-point gap. Headed into the final three arrows, Deaton drilled a 10 and Hidalgo responded with a 9, then the two swapped with a 9 for Deaton and a 10 for Hidalgo. Deaton closed with a 10, and just needing a 9 to win, Hidalgo dropped an 8 and kept the match going into a shoot off. Still in the game, both loosed solid 10s, and it came down to a caliper measurement to determine Hidalgo's arrow closest to the center by just millimeters, leaving Deaton with the silver finish.
The top ranked compound men's team, Matt Sullivan, Reo Wilde and Kris Schaff took on the home team from Colombia. USA opened with a 59 to Colombia's perfect 60 and then dropped another point in the second end. A 59 to Colombia's 56 put the U.S. trio up one point, but a final 233-233 tie sent the archers to a shoot off. Both scored 29s with their three arrows, but Colombia took the gold win. The USA compound women's team of Paige Pearce, Cassidy Cox and Jamie Van Natta had won bronze earlier in the week.
Sullivan and Pearce also teamed up for the compound mixed competition and took on Colombia for the gold. Opening with two perfect 40s, the U.S. duo refused to open the door for a comeback and took the win 158-156.
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