Newberry, FL - The Easton Foundations Gator Cup, the second USAT Qualifier Series Event of 2012, saw 191 archers take to the field at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex, shooting a 72 arrow ranking round under clear skies with a variable breeze. Sandwiched between stage one of the World Cup and the second U.S. Olympic Team Trials event, the Gator Cup still boasts competition among several Olympians, World Champions and World Cup gold medalists, along with the country's best juniors and cadets.
For the recurve women, Olympic hopeful Miranda Leek (IA) led the field for both 36 arrow rounds, finishing the day on top by an 11 point margin with a 655. Two-time Olympian Jennifer Nichols (TX), hovering between second and third, finished the day in second with 644. Shooting a 626, Khatuna Lorig (CA), the archer who coached Jennifer Lawrence for her role in "The Hunger Games," qualified third.
On the recurve men's side, there were some competitors noticeably absent - namely Brady Ellison (CA), Jacob Wukie (OH), Joe Fanchin (CA) and Jake Kaminski (CA), who returned just days ago from the World Cup in Shanghai. However, several of Canada's top male recurve archers were present, and two of them - Crispin Duenas and Robert Cox - led the pack with scores of 664 and 652, respectively. Behind them was Resident Athlete Jeremiah Cusick (CA), shooting a 643 to qualify 3rd.
The compound women were led by multi-time world record holder Jamie Van Natta (OH), scoring a 696 for the top spot. Erika Anschutz (NE), the number one world ranked archer in her category, finished her day with a 690 for second, followed by Diane Watson (FL), coming off a World Cup individual bronze medal win and shooting a 683 today.
Jesse Broadwater (PA) and Reo Wilde (ID), two of the world's top players in the compound area, ended the day tied for the top spot with 705s in a category featuring extremely close competition. Both archers came back from slow starts, with Broadwater in 5th and Wilde in 4th during the first 36 arrows. Braden Gellenthien (VA), shooting a 701, took a third place finish in the qualification round.
Juniors and seniors will be ranked together for tomorrow's elimination round match play, which includes cash prizes for the top three seniors in each category (final finish). However, cadets finished competition (other than an optional elimination round) following qualifications.
For the cadet compound women, it was Hunter Jackson (MI) who took the category with a 671. Emily Bee (MI) finished second, shooting a 657; they were joined in the top three by Claire Estrada (GA), who shot a 625 for third. The cadet compound men were led by Chris Bee (MI), ending with a 675; he was followed by Greg Fink (MI) and Jared Hall (CT), shooting 674 and 661 for second and third, respectively.
The cadet recurve women were Jenna Ahn (CA) in first with 607, followed by Stephanie Kim (CA) with 606, and Karissa Yamaguchi (AZ) with a 580. Recurve cadet men who reached the podium today were Collin Klimitchek (TX) with a strong 642; Eliot Simon (NY) and Sean Chang (CA) ended with 617 and 615, respectively.
The Easton Foundations Gator Cup continues tomorrow with elimination round match play beginning at 8:00 a.m. Complete results may be viewed online at http://ianseo.net/TourData/2012/262/IC.php; USA Archery will continue coverage on Twitter and Facebook.
Click the slideshow below to view photos from day one of this event: