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ROSARIO, Argentina - Today, Team USA had a shot at three gold finals at the World Archery Youth Championships. Guaranteed a spot on all six podiums of the day, the U.S. had already picked up bronze in the compound junior men's and women's team events and the compound cadet mixed team event.
After obliterating the world record in qualification by an outstanding 49 points this week, the compound cadet men's trio of Dane Johnson (Laotto, Indiana), Ethan Merrill (Manchester, New Hampshire) and Anthony Ferraro (Scranton, Pennsylvania) took strong wins of 226-219 over Denmark in the quarterfinals and 231-220 over Canada in the semifinals on their quest for gold.
Facing Turkey this morning, the U.S. team opened with straight 9s for a 54 to Turkey's 53. Then, the match turned strongly in favor of the U.S. as they increased their lead to an astounding 10 points with a 57 to bring the score to 111-101. Looking comfortable on the big stage, the U.S. responded to Turkey's 29 in the next three arrows with a perfect 30. Then the U.S. conceded a few points as the score came to 167-159, still in America's favor. With another 57, the U.S. took the gold win and the World Champion title 224-211!
The compound cadet women's team of defending champion Breanna Theodore (Hibbing, Minnesota), Sachiko Keane (Staten Island, New York), and Savannah Vanderwier (Sheffield, Texas) had some high pressure - not only were the young archers performing in front of a massive crowd, the U.S. has also won gold in this event every year since it was added to the program in 2006.
The team had clear chemistry - communicating with each other on every shot and laughing between ends. As both USA and Mexico found their footing on the impressive stage, the first end saw several arrows in the red rings, but the score stayed close, with Mexico up 50-48.
In the back half of the second set, the U.S. ladies drilled three perfect 10s to pick up four points and swing the score in their favor, 105-103. Then, the team from Mexico turned it up, shooting first and scoring a 59 to turn the match back to their advantage, 162-159. Down three points, the U.S. got to shoot first, putting a 28 down range, which Mexico countered with a 27 to give the U.S. one point back, but then the U.S., short on time, scored a miss and the match went to Mexico 212-204 as they closed out with just 23 points in the last three arrows. The U.S. claimed the silver as Mexico upset the 6-time world champion nation.
Both top individual qualifiers in the compound junior divisions, Jesse Clayton (Powell Butte, Oregon) and Alexis Ruiz (Glendale, Arizona) solidly took the top mixed team qualification spot and breezed through matches to earn a spot in today's gold final against Great Britain. The U.S. duo struggled at the start, opening with a 31 to Great Britain's 38 for a seven-point deficit.
In the second end, Great Britain picked up another point with a 37 to USA's 36. Great Britain refused to open the door for the U.S. to regain footing as they increased their lead another point over the next four arrows to a 111-102 tally. While the two teams both posted 36s for the final end, Great Britain took the win and U.S. finished with silver.
Competition resumes tomorrow with individual compound finals and all recurve finals. Live results are available at www.worldarchery.org. The finals will stream live on the Olympic Channel. For more, follow USA Archery onFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Photo: Gary Yamaguchi
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