Sunday, June 13, 2004

Mason hits the bull's-eye


Cincinnati area hosts U.S. Archery Olympic Trials this week

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mason will serve as the gateway to Athens this week for more than 100 Olympic hopefuls when the U.S. Archery Trials arrive at Heritage Oak Park.

Five days of competition beginning Tuesday will determine which six archers, three men and three women, will represent the United States at the 2004 Olympics. It is the only Olympic qualifying event in the area this summer, according to the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, one of the tournament's hosts.

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"(The public) can come experience it and be part of the Olympic movement," said the bureau's Mark Hecquet. "It's their opportunity to be part of the Trials. They'll see these people on TV in two months in Athens. This is a unique opportunity."

The bid to bring the Trials to Ohio began in August when Hecquet approached the Cincinnati Junior Olympians and their director, two-time gold medal winner Darrell Pace, about co-hosting an archery event to help the county's sports marketing push. The idea turned into a bid for the biggest event USA Archery holds.

Nine cities sought this year's Trials, including locations in New York, Georgia, Florida and Texas, and Chula Vista, Calif., the site of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, according to Pace and USA Archery's Mary Beth Vorwerk.

The National Archery Association Board of Governors, which includes Pace as a representative for the North region, voted to give Mason its shot this year. The Trials were held in Oxford in 1972, 1976 and 1980, Pace said.

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Hamilton's Darrell Pace
(Tony Jones photo)
"I think the connection with Darrell landed something of this caliber," said Margaret Drexel, also of the Warren visitors bureau.

The club's experience with hosting events also helped. In 2002, the Cincinnati Junior Olympians successfully hosted the Junior Olympic Archer Development National Championships, which had about 300 archers under 18 compete.

Ohio's central location and weather were other factors. And the field at Heritage Park also has never been used for archery before, so no archer will have a home-field advantage over another.

"It's a level playing field as far as the athletes are concerned, and I think that put it apart," Hecquet said.

But two archers will have the benefits that come from competing close to home. Jason McKittrick of Holton, Ind., and Columbus native Chris Shull are ranked fourth and third in the country headed into the Trials.

"I'm counting on it as one of the positives to make me feel more comfortable about doing well," McKittrick said. "I take it as a good omen."

McKittrick, an alternate on the 2000 Olympic team, expects to at least see his wife and dad cheering him on throughout the week.

"A lot of people were joking about coming, but I don't know if they're serious," McKittrick said.

Hecquet said he's not sure how many people will attend the event, but the Warren visitors bureau has printed 2,000 programs that they would like to see gone by the end of the week.

The sport of archery is "not hugely popular by any means," Hecquet said. But it does attract a fair number of participants in the area that start shooting for hunting purposes and then cross over, Pace said.

The National Association of Archery has 6,500 members. The Cincinnati Junior Olympians usually have 30-40 members, and Pace said holding the Trials in Mason could help attract more local people to the sport.

"It's a possibility," said Pace, who will be at the Trials helping with field operations. "It does always spark interest."

If you go

When: Monday to Saturday

Where: Heritage Oak Park, Mason

Cost: Free

Directions: From I-75: Take exit 22 (Tylersville Road). Go east on Tylersville. Take Route 42 north. Park entrance in about 2 miles. From I-71: Take the Kings Mill Road/741 exit. Go west on Kings Mill Road, then west on Route 741. Take Route 42 south. Park entrance in about three-quarters of a mile.

Parking: Free and will be marked

SCHEDULE

Monday

• 9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Practice

Tuesday

• 8-8:20 a.m.: Opening ceremonies

• 9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Two ranking rounds, 72 arrows each round

Cut to top 16 men/top 16 women

Wednesday

• 9:15 a.m.-2:45 p.m.: Eight Round Robin matches

Thursday• 9:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m.: Seven Round Robin matches

Cut to top eight men/top eight women

Friday• 9:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m.: Seven Round Robin matches

Re-rank competitors

Saturday • 9:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m.: Seven Round Robin matches

Presentation of the Olympic team

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Free climbing wall Tuesday and interactive archery zone all week. Concessions and merchandise vendors also on site.

ONLINE www.usarchery.org

Men to watch

Jason McKittrick (Ranked 4th): The local. Raised in Milan, Ind., and living in Holton, Ind., the 29-year-old is looking to participate in his first Olympics after serving as the alternate for the 2000 Games. Won a Pan American gold medal in 1999 and was on the 2002 Turkish Grand Prix team that beat Korea for a team gold medal.

Richard "Butch" Johnson (1): The prospect with the most Olympic experience. He was on the 1992 team, the 1996 gold-medal team and the 2000 bronze-medal team, but he has yet to nab an individual medal. At 48, also one of the oldest competitors.

Vic Wunderle (2): Won an individual silver medal and a team bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics.

Chris Shull (3): The second Ohioan, from Columbus, currently lives at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California. Shull is one McKittrick said has been shooting well.

Glenn Meyers (5): Member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team.

Joe McGlyn: Trying for first Olympics. Won the Gold Cup May 23.

Richard "Guy" Krueger: At 23, one of the younger archers this week and also one McKittrick said has been shooting well.

Rod White: Trying for his third consecutive Olympic appearance and third medal.

Justin Huish: The only male archer to win both team and individual gold medals in the same year since team competition began in 1988. He won both in 1996 but didn't compete in the 2000 Olympics.

Jay Barrs: Also an individual gold-medal winner (1988). Won the inaugural team bronze in 1988 with Rick McKinney. Member of 1992 team.

Women to watch

Jennifer Nichols (Ranked 1st): Double gold medalist at the 2003 Pan American Games. Started the year with wins at the National Indoor Championships, the Arizona Cup International and the Italian Grand Prix. Entire family participates in archery.

Karen Scavotto (2): Was only 17 when she competed in 2000 Olympics.

Kathie Loesch (3): Coached by Richard Johnson. Member of the 2003 World team, along with the rest of the five ranked archers on this list.

Stephanie Miller (4): 18-year-old Columbia student won a bronze at the 2003 Pan American Games. Also a 2004 collegiate All-American.

Janet Dykman (5): Most Olympic experience; competed on 1996 and 2000 teams.

Erika "Aya" LaBrie: Says watching male competitor Justin Huish's gold-medal performance in 1996 was her greatest influence.

Phyllis Shipman: At age 60, one of the oldest competitors. Began shooting when she was 8-12 years old and was an All-American at Penn. She began shooting again at 54.

Margot Stuchin: The 15-year-old is one of the top juniors and recently moved from New York to Chula Vista, Calif., to be by the Olympic Training Center.

Roxanne Reimann: The 20-year-old archery instructor was on 2003 Athens Test Event Team.

Ashley Kamuf: Member of 2003 World University Games team.

Just the facts

Never watched an archery competition before? Margaret Drexel and Mark Hecquet from the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a tournament host, told us what you need to know to be these trials' ultimate fan:

• Number of archers: Between 100-150 at this competition.

• Format: Tuesday - Archers divided into lines. Each line has about four minutes to shoot six arrows, then score and switch lines. Repeat until 72 arrows shot. Repeat this competition in afternoon for total of 144 arrows per archer. Top 16 male and female archers advance.

Wednesday and Thursday - A total of 15 Round Robin matches per archer in two days (so each competitor faces every other competitor). Twelve arrows shot in each match, in sets of six. Top eight male and female archers advance.

Friday and Saturday - A total of seven Round Robin matches per archer each day. Twelve arrows shot each match, in sets of three. All accumulated points for Days 1-5 added up. Top three male and female archers make the Olympic team, plus one male and female alternate.

• Scoring: 10 points for bull's-eye. Points descend outward one point per ring, so outermost circle is worth one point. No points for a missed target. Five bonus points for every match won in the Round Robin matches.

• Match length: Schedule calls for about 30 minutes per match.

• Where to watch: Bleachers will be set up.

• Atmosphere: Think of it as similar to a golf tournament. Archers go mostly at their own pace. "It's quiet and laid-back," Hecquet said.

• Cheering: If an archer hits a good mark, go ahead and cheer, but be mindful of other archers shooting at that time. The sport takes extreme concentration and steadiness, so it's better not to cheer while they're aiming. And, of course, don't harass the competitors. They are armed.

• Don't forget: Your binoculars. The shooting line is 70 meters away from the targets, so without them, the thud might be the only thing telling you an archer hit the target.

• Lingo: Recurve is the type of bow that is being used, the only type in Olympic competition. End is a set of arrows (in this tournament three or six) that are shot before going to the target to score. Target is the type of archery discipline you'll be watching. A Robin Hood occurs when an archer drives the tip of one arrow deep into the end of another arrow already in the target.

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E-mail ckane@enquirer.com




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