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May 09, 2019

USA on Target for Gold at World Cup Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China – World Cup Shanghai saw surprising upsets to start the day, followed by impressive USA performances in individual and team matches to earn shots at podium finishes in the finals this weekend.

Most notable, USA Archery Collegiate Archery Program student athletes, Grand Canyon University’s reigning World Youth Champion Alexis Ruiz and Columbia University’s World Youth Field Champion Sophia Strachan made their world cup debuts in Medellin last weekend and both earned spots in this weekend’s medal matches. Both were part of the bronze medal winning team in Medellin, and Ruiz also won mixed team gold and individual silver.

Ivy Leaguer Strachan climbed from a 22nd place qualification to upset No. 11 Lucy O’Sullivan of Great Britain in the 1/16th 146-143, then took a shoot off win after another 146, and she held strong, taking a 4-point win in the quarterfinals and a 6-point win in the semifinals with another 146 over China’s Luo Sha. Consistently one of the highest scoring women on the field, Strachan will have a tough gold medal matchup against Korea’s So Chaewon, who won bronze at the 2018 Final.

“I’ve never shot the World Cups so I was just thinking of it as getting international experience,” Strachan told World Archery. “I wasn’t thinking specifically I was going to make the finals, so it’s an awesome surprise that I did. Now, I’ll just keep practicing, try to keep my head on straight and when it’s time, I’ll shoot my bow.”

Ruiz came super close to a repeat shot at the gold podium, upsetting top seed Tanja Jensen of the Netherlands 147-143 in the quarterfinals. Ruiz and So went to a 145-145 tie in the semifinals, but So’s 10 outscored Ruiz’s 9, so Ruiz will face Luo for bronze.

The compound women’s team, Ruiz, Strachan, and Jamie Van Natta, qualified 2nd and eased through the brackets with strong wins – taking a 228-220 quarterfinal victory over China and a 232-229 semifinal win over Chinese Taipei to earn a shot at gold – an upgrade from Medellin’s bronze.

The top three U.S. compound men, Matt Sullivan, Kris Schaff and Braden Gellenthien qualified first, third and eighth respectively, earning a bye into this morning’s 1/16th round. Tate Morgan qualified 25th, but with a first round 149 win, also joined today’s competition. However, in a shocking turn of events as the brackets were quickly dissolved, all but Gellenthien were wiped out round one. Morgan and Gellenthien went head to head with Gellenthien taking the win 148-146. He went on to a double shoot off after tying on 147s in the 1/8th before putting down a 148 and 147 to clear his path to the gold final against Belgium’s Brend Frederickx.

Gellenthien had a shot at gold in Medellin but suffered a frustrating final match. He’ll be hungry for the win this weekend, especially with automatic qualification to the circuit Final this fall on the line. Frederickx is making his world cup debut this weekend, and has no international podium finishes to his name, but the young archer may be a dark horse after his performances today. For Gellenthien, the most decorated archer in world cup history, experience may win out on the big stage.

“At the last event in Medellin, I made a silly decision regarding equipment and it cost me. That problem has been fixed and I’m dialed in going into the finals here in Shanghai,” shared Gellenthien. “This event in particular has been about second chances.” Gellenthien arrived in Shanghai after little time off from Redding with food poisoning and battled through the qualification round. Sneaking his way into the top 8, he earned a day off to recover and came back strong for today’s matches.

“The matches today were anything but easy,” he added. “First up, I had American teammate Tate Morgan. He’s probably beaten me more times than anyone else over the last 3 years and I knew I would need to bring my A-game to get through. I stayed within myself and made the best shots I could, and got through.

“The remaining few matches were a blur and I continually reminded myself to stay focused on the task at hand and not allow the distractions of making a gold final cloud my ability to perform. When my final arrow found the 10 ring, you better believe there was one of the loudest ‘Brady and Braden roars’ that archery has ever heard. It felt really rewarding and amazing to come back from being so sick and get another opportunity to qualify for the World Cup Final.”

Gellenthien, Schaff and Sullivan returned in the team round as defending stage champions from 2018. Seeded solidly in 1st, the trio posted 235-233 to beat Chinese Taiepei in the quarterfinals and 237-236 over China in the semifinals to earn a chance to defend their title in the gold final.

The recurve men came down to the same final four as Medellin, with a rematch of the gold final for Brady Ellison’s semifinal against Korea’s Lee Woo Seok. Ellison, who took gold in Medellin and has already sealed his spot in the circuit Final, sailed through his first few matches. In the next few tougher matches, he took his quarterfinal to a shoot off win and then went 6-4 with Lee, ultimately falling in the final set.

Ellison will shoot for bronze in what promises to be an epic matchup between himself and the Netherlands’ Sjef van den Berg. The two went head to head in the most exciting match of Medellin and will likely bring the heat to the finals this weekend.

Ellison, Jack Williams and Alex Bourdage came together in the men’s team event. The second ranked team started well with a 5-3 win over Australia in the first round, posting set scores of 58, 56, 59, 56, before a quarterfinal upset by Turkey in a shoot off.

The recurve women’s team, led by Erin MIckelberry, who was the sole U.S. woman to make it to the 1/16th, and World Archery Championships teammates Khatuna Lorig and Casey Kaufhold, qualified 9th. A good start gave them a 6-2 upset win over India in their first match, but they fell 6-0 to Korea in the quarterfinals.

Competition continues with mixed team matches tomorrow through the semifinals. Scores are live at www.worldarchery.org. The medal finals will be available live this weekend on NBC’s Olympic Channel at www.olympicchannel.com/live.

Photos by World Archery.

 

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