By Karen Price | Aug. 16, 2019, 4:08 p.m. (ET)

(L-R) Casey Kaufhold and Brady Ellison pose at the U.S. National Target Championships on Aug. 16, 2019 in Dublin, Ohio. 

 

The battle for Olympic archery spots began at the 135th U.S. National Target Championships in Dublin, Ohio, this week and, as expected, reigning world champion and three-time Olympic medalist Brady Ellison is the men’s leader after stage one of four for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Archery.

Ellison, 30, finished the men’s recurve competition with a total score of 1,351 following two rounds of shooting at 72 arrows in each round. Sixteen-year-old Josef Scarboro is in second place with 1,330 points and world No. 9 Jack Williams, a 19-year-old who’s slated to compete at the World Archery Youth Championships later this month and has made waves on the senior world cup circuit this year with two team bronze medals, sits in third place with 1,325 points. They were followed by Thomas Stanwood and cadet world record holder Joonsuh Oh with 1,321 and 1,318 points, respectively.

Ellison is looking to qualify for his fourth U.S. Olympic Team. He has won two team silver medals, in 2012 and 2016, and individual bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

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The men’s field was highlighted by a handful of Olympians, which also included two of Ellison’s former teammates in 2016 Olympian Zach Garrett, who placed seventh, and 2012 Olympian Jacob Wukie, who’s in eighth. 2000 Olympic silver medalist Vic Wunderle, aiming for a fourth Olympic team, is 15th while five-time Olympian and two-time team medalist Butch Johnson placed 30th. Justin Huish, the first man to win Olympic gold in both the individual and team events in 1996, returned to the sport and was 35th.

On the women’s side, 15-year-old Casey Kaufhold holds down the top spot with 1,314 points, followed by Eliana Claps with 1,297 and former compound world medalist Crystal Gauvin with 1,276. Five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig, the reigning national indoor champion, is tied for seventh place with 1,244 points and 2016 Olympian Mackenzie Brown is in ninth with 1,243 points. 2018 Youth Olympian Catalina GNoriega is in 10th place with 1,241 points.

The second stage of Olympic trials consists of a 72-arrow round, followed by a cut to the top 16 archers in each gender who will then go through 15 round-robin matches, and will be held at the Texas Shootout on Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in College Station. The third round will take place next April in Chula Vista, California, where the field will be cut to eight, and the fourth and final round will be in Newberry, Florida, in May.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.