I’m finally back in the land of social media, after getting a nice break from computers while in China. I wanted to get this post finished and up before I left, however, I just simply ran out of time with shopping for waterproof shoes and other items to bring to the first World Cup of the year.
Gator Cup this year was much earlier then the last few years, with it being our second USAT tournament in April. After a disappointing showing in AZ, I knew I needed to perform well to keep my position in the rankings secure. In addition to being a USAT event, Gator Cup was also the first stage of the Senior Compound World Champs Trials and the complete Jr World Trials event.
With the busy schedule, I would have liked to have flown in a day early, like many did, however, R and I both needed to work Thursday, so we took a direct flight from Providence into Orlando after work, figuring this would still get us to Newberry by 10pm or so. We weren’t so lucky; our flight was delayed over 3 hours and we had to wait forever for our rental car, which meant we didn’t get to our hotel until around 2:30 in the morning!
We had to be up early to hit the practice range because qualification started just after lunch. To say I was tired would be an understatement, but I knew I had to push past it and shoot well. There was a little bit of wind, but nothing that should cause any serious problems, and I took advantage of the calm conditions, shooting a 695 (one point off of my personal best) in qualification.
This put me in the lead, not only for the qualification rounds, but also for the first portion of World Trials. I also gained 2 bonus points for shooting above specific score levels. I was beat and ready for food and bed as soon as we were done.
Originally Saturday was an off day for all adults, but this was changed at the field, so now compound adults had to shoot their first 2 matches Saturday afternoon, followed by team rounds. I had a bye my first match, and I opened with a bang in my next match. It was decently windy and the scores across the field reflected this, yet I shot a 3X, 30 to start my match. I ended up beating a lot of the men with my score, but I was happiest that I had won my own match and was moving on to Sunday.
I then shot in the team event, which I think is a great avenue for teaching younger or less experienced archers the ropes. I shot with both a fellow adult and a 12-year-old cadet. We didn’t win our match, but we all had fun and learned something (I can get a shot off and hit paper with only 3 seconds left, but I miss the scoring rings by about 1/2 an inch).
My first match on Sunday, I started a little slow, but I was able to quickly figure things out and improve each end. I won the match, and I was asked to be the featured tv match for the next round. I always enjoy doing this because it means friends and family back home actually get to see me shoot, instead of just being able to watch my scores come in.
Reading the wind was a little different in the area they had us shoot for this match, as the wind flags were on a different side and you could tell we both had to make some adjustments for this as the match went on. I managed to take an early lead and hold on to this the entire match, even though it was a tight one clear to the end.
I was now shooting in the semi finals, meaning the winner went into the gold medal match and the loser would shoot for bronze. I was shooting against a girl who just recently moved up into the jr ranks, so she was not someone I was used to shooting against. I always enjoy this, as I think it’s fun to get to shoot against different people.
With one end to go, I had a commanding lead in the match. The wind was tricky, but I was reading it well and making good shots. Just three arrows stood between me and getting back to the gold medal match at a USAT for the first time since So Cal last year. However, when we came to the line, the wind started gusting like crazy. We all were smart enough to just stand there and wait, not one person drawing back their bow as the wind whipped side to side.
With 58 seconds left on the clock, not one of us had shot an arrow. I knew I needed to get at least one of my three off soon, to avoid running out of time. I waited until a gust passed and quickly drew back, telling myself I just needed to shoot a strong shot. If I could do that, I knew I would keep it red or better and be fine. Even though I shoot a trigger release, I shoot it like a back tension, which means I do not know when it is going to go off. So right as my shot was firing, a gust of wind pushed my arm off the target, and I shot a miss.
I knew I didn’t have time to freak out, but I also didn’t have time to clear my head, so I quickly shot another shot which landed directly right, in the 8 ring. I had now shot 2 arrows right, so I knew the gusts were pushing that way and decided to start my shot on the left side of the target, so when the wind pushed me it would go toward the middle. Unfortunately on this arrow I didn’t get the gust and it hit 7 ring left.
I knew with a miss I’d probably lost, but I could tell it was close by everyone’s reaction watching. As people did the math, they told me I had lost by one. I have never been so completely crushed at an archery tournament before. I literally just collapsed before realizing I still had to go down and score the arrows.
We all know that shooting a miss is going to lose you the match, but to have been shooting so well that I only lost by 1, even with a miss (and a final end of just 15 points) I couldn’t comprehend it. I felt like everything had come together for me at this tournament, so to not be shooting for gold was just heart breaking.
Thankfully, R was done shooting and was there to calm me down bc, as he reminded me, I still had to get my head together so I could at least win 3rd and still be on the podium. And this match was not going to be an easy one, as I was shooting against Paige, who was the one who took me out in AZ just two weeks earlier.
I quickly had to change my mindset and forget what just happened. I had a job to do, and that job was to win bronze. I was fortunate enough that this worked, and after a close match, I won the match! Now I could relax until a long day of round robins for World Championships trials the next day.
I had to drop R off at the airport VERY EARLY Monday morning, so he could be back in time to work. I was able to go back to sleep for a short while before heading to the field, where I had 9 matches (one against each of the other qualifiers for World Champs in July). We ended up with only 9 women, which meant we all would have a bye match during the day. I was the #1 seed going into the day, which meant I didn’t have to move targets, everyone else would come to me!
I was moving right along, winning my matches and posting solid scores at the half way point. Then, I lost two matches in a row (to two girls I had shot against the day before in eliminations and won!). I knew I had to regain my focus, so I could finish out with winning my final matches of the day. I did this, giving me a tie for the most number of match wins and the highest overall arrow average for the day. This allowed me to keep my #1 spot for the trials ranking as we head into the second half of trials at So Cal in June.
Overall, I walked away from Gator Cup and Trials feeling very positive. There are still things I can work on and improve, but I am headed in the right direction and making progress. I was home a total of 2.5 days, one of which was spent driving into the office up near Boston (not fun when you only have one car and first have to drop your husband off at work in RI…)