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March 14, 2024

Perfect season, five in a row, and a little help from Siri just some of the stories behind the Indoor Nationals Final

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Whether it was a first win at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals Final, or whether archers had savored success on numerous occasions before, the overwhelming sense of joy was etched onto the faces of all six gold medalists inside the Kentucky International Convention Center on Thursday.

Casey Kaufhold won the recurve women event for the fifth time in a row. Paige Pearce claimed gold in the compound women for the fifth time in six visits. Brady Ellison reclaimed the title at the end of a faultless indoor season, while there were first time winners in Maggie Brensinger (barebow women), Parker Baker (compound men) and Zack Bisinger (barebow men).

The last person to beat Kaufhold at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals Final was Mackenzie Brown in the 2018 gold medal match. In defeating Alex Zuleta-Visser 6-2 in the 2024 edition, Kaufhold has now won five on the bounce.

“It comes down to a lot of practice,” admitted a beaming Kaufhold. “Practice shooting my shots, practice with handling my nerves, so it’s been a lot of years in the making to get to five in a row.”

Pearce has recently undergone surgery but she was not about to let that impact her plans to successfully defend the title she reclaimed last year. The 28-year-old raced out of the blocks in her gold medal match with Alexis Ruiz, hitting a perfect score from the first three ends, eventually winning 146-143.

“I wanted this one, bad,” Pearce said. “I told Tate (Morgan), ‘there’s two tournaments this weekend, and I really want to win the first one, I really want to do it’, so I’m so excited.”

For 18-year-old Brensinger, hers was a first win at this event and a career high. The teenager from Pennsylvania overcame nerves to defeat 16-year-old talent Ava Jones 6-0 in the barebow women’s gold medal match. Brensinger did not drop a point on her way to gold, beating top seed Fawn Girard 6-0 in the semifinals and Francesca Benavidez by the same score in the quarterfinals.

“I shocked myself with how quickly I got into my groove,” said Brensinger. “But as soon as I got on the (finals) stage my nerves multiplied 10-fold but I was still in that groove.”

Bisinger had a rather unique approach to preparation for the Indoor Nationals Final and it seemed to do the trick as he won a pulsating back-and-forth against Nick Way 6-4.

He explained, “I had about a month to prepare and was shooting matches against my phone. I’d asked Siri to pick a number, and she would beat me sometimes – in the beginning – and then this week she didn’t beat me a whole lot so I was feeling good coming in.”

For the first time in his illustrious career, Ellison completed an indoor season unbeaten. He has lost in the final the previous two years, to Trenton Cowles in 2022 and Jack Williams in 2023. He avenged last year’s loss with a 7-3 win over Williams, with confirmation of his victory triggering a punch in the air in celebration.

“I shoot indoor so well,” began Ellison. “And then for whatever reason I’ve come here and just shot some really horrible finals the last couple of years.

“I’ve been shooting great on the final stage all year. I’m super happy with the win and I’ve got a lot of confidence so I’m pretty excited to see what this is going to be outside.”

Parker Baker needed a one-arrow shootoff win to overcome former world number one Dave Cousins in the quarterfinals of the compound men. He followed that with a perfect 150 in the semifinals to see off second seed Caleb Quiocho, before surviving a late surge from eighth-seeded Jerimiah Foster 147-144.

The barebow men’s champion Baker said, “I really tried not to worry about what was happening out there. I knew (it was a) huge stage, lots of people watching, but I tried to not think about any of it and just go out to shoot my bow, that’s all I want to do.”

With generous support from Black Eagle Arrows, Conquest Archery and Darton Archery (compound division), Lancaster Archery Supply (barebow division) and T.R.U. Ball/AXCEL (recurve division), the total prize purse for this event was more than $70,000, with payouts to all places.

Action images from the 2024 USA Archery Indoor Nationals can be found HERE, while you can head to BetweenEndsfor all of the scores and results.

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