The United States National Anthem got plenty of play on Monday in Yankton.
Five times in fact.
That’s how dominant the host country was on the final day — ‘compound day’ — of the World Archery Indoor Championships at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center.
Out of eight total gold medal matches contested Monday, the Star-Spangled Banner was played during five awards ceremonies.
“I would say our compound teams are very strong,” said 19-year-old U.S. archer Cassidy Cox, who was part of two medal victories on the final day of the five-day tournament.
And the United States proved it.
Its archers went 4-for-4 in the gold medal team matches: Compound junior women, compound junior men, compound women and compound men. Cox also added a gold medal in the compound junior women final, and the U.S. also won a silver and gold medal Monday.
One of the nation’s most decorated female archers, Cox started her Monday as the anchor of the United States junior team, and an hour and a half later won an individual gold medal.
The New Mexico resident first teamed with a pair of 16-year-olds, Athena Caiopoulos and Anna Scarbrough, to win the team title.
“Those women are such solid shots. It was a joy to watch,” said U.S. coach Laval Falks, who coached the trio in the gold medal match — you can have different coaches for each trio.
“It was my honor and privilege to be able to watch that.”
And for those in the bleachers in the specially-designed finals venue at the Easton Center, they got to watch first-hand how dominant the United States is in the compound team division — Sunday’s ‘recurve day’ had a global flavor.
It’s not as though the United States doesn’t have any high-caliber archers. No, far from it.
Two of the country’s representatives at the Indoor Championships in Yankton are ranked in the top-10 in the world in their respective recurve divisions: Brady Ellison (No. 5) and Mackenzie Brown (No. 9).
Neither Ellison nor Brown reached the medals match in their divisions, but the United States wasn’t shut out. The recurve junior men team won the bronze medal, and Adam Heidt — also on that team — lost in the bronze medal match of the recurve junior men.
The United States is trying to develop the next phase of recurve archers, Falks said.
“We’re kind of a transition with our recurve program,” he said. Especially on the women’s side, there’s a “bit of a void” between the younger ranks and those more experienced veterans who are on to other stages of their lives.
“But I’d say in the next couple of years, you’re going to see big changes there,” Falks said.
What doesn’t figure to change, though, is the U.S.’s success in the compound team events.
At an event like the Indoor Championships, archers can qualify as part of a team or as an individual; some qualify in both. Ultimately, of course, the goal is to capture a gold medal in both, but getting there requires a unique shift in focus between the team and individual aspect.
“Archery is mostly an individual sport, and it’s hard for a lot of people when they come into it expecting to be mostly judged for an individual sport and then to have to rely on a team,” Caiopoulos said.
It can certainly be a juggling act, but Falks said he has developed a routine over the years: Once the individual qualifications are over, he and his staff will assign certain coaches to certain teams.
Why? Because then a coach can specifically work with a group that maybe hadn’t shot together before.
“That’s exactly why I do that,” Falks said. “On these world championship trips, you know who’s on what team, but you might have some that have never shot together before.”
That’s where practice is particularly important throughout the week, he added. At some point, a decision has to be made on the shooting rotation, which is especially critical, Falks said.
During the matches, each team is limited to a certain amount of time, which means that there’s a certain strategy involved in selecting the lineup — if an archer might need extra time to line up a shot, they might go first, and so on.
“That’s a big part of the coaching job,” Falks added. “Once you’ve identified the order, you want to help homogenize that team.”
Still, there’s a feeling out process necessary for a team.
“It just takes a little bit of practice to get to know how to work together,” Cox said. “Each person has a different spot they like to shoot in the rotation.
“It took us a few rounds to get used to our rotation, but I think it worked out really well.”
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