U.S. archers competing at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Oct. 1, 2019 in College Station, Texas.
Halfway through the selection process for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Archery Team, Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold have plenty of reasons to smile.
Both have substantial leads in the rankings following stage two of the four-part U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Archery that wrapped up Tuesday in College Station, Texas.
Ellison, the three-time Olympic medalist and reigning men's world recurve champion, sits firmly in the lead in the men's individual standings while Kaufhold, the 15-year-old rising star, also has a nice grip on the lead in the women's race to see who will represent Team USA at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Ellison has a cumulative score of 35 points, which includes the results of three 72-arrow ranking rounds and round-robin matches against the other 15 men remaining in the field. The trials process, which continues next year, will also include bracket-style elimination matches and team round simulation.
Behind Ellison sits Jack Williams, with whom Ellison won men's recurve team bronze at the Pan American Games Lima 2019, with 26.50 points, and Matthew Nofel with 25 points.
Kaufhold leads the pack for the women with 33 points, followed by 2016 Olympian Mackenzie Brown with 24.25 points and Erin Mickelberry with 24 points. Five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig is currently tied for sixth place.
The top man and top woman at the end of Olympic trials will compete in Tokyo, and the top three men and top three women will compete for Olympic team spots at a June 2020 world cup; if successful, those athletes will also be on the Olympic team.
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“I was really happy with how my shots were feeling and how I was dealing with the wind because it was windy on the field where we were at,” Kaufhold told TeamUSA.org. “I was able to judge well and make some good shots to score well. I'm just happy that I kept my mental part together, too, and didn't really get upset at myself after a bad shot.”
Kaufhold competed at the Pan Am Games for the first time this summer and won individual bronze, women's team gold with Lorig and Mickelberry, and mixed team gold with Ellison as her partner. It was the first mixed team title contested at the Pan Am Games, and the win also ensured the U.S. a women's quota spot in Tokyo next year. Mixed team makes its Olympic debut next year.
Both Ellison and Kaufhold also led after the first stage of the Olympic trials, where around 200 Olympic hopefuls competed in Ohio in August.
Right now the field stands at 32 after cuts were made on Saturday, with the top 16 men and top 16 women still in contention.
In addition to the top three men, other notable competitors include Zach Garrett (6) and Jacob Wukie (9), who each teamed up with Ellison to win an Olympic medal in different years. In addition, Thomas Stanwood (4) joined Ellison and Williams to win the men's team bronze medal at the Pan Am Games.
Rounding out the men's field are Josef Scarboro (5), Alex Bourdage (7), Joonsuh Oh (8), Matthew Requa (10), Joony Kim (11), Adam Whitlatch (12), Glen Thomas (13), Michael Plummer (14), Matthew Zumbo (15) and Andrew Park (16).
The other women still competing are Eliana Claps (4), Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez (5), Lorig (6T), Alexandria Zuleta-Visser (6T), 2018 Youth Olympian Catalina GNoriega (8), Valerie Wang (9), Crystal Gauvin (10), Nicole Turina (11), Branduin Stroud (12), Molly Nugent (13), Brianna Laux (14), Amy Jung (15) and Kelsey Lard (16).
Said Kaufhold: “Overall I'm really happy with how it's gone so far and I'd like to keep it going the same way.”
The field will be cut in half midway through stage 3 in April in Chula Vista, California, after two more 72-arrow rounds and another round-robin.
The fourth and final event will take place in May in Newberry, Florida.
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.