Hunting for 10s at the 2013 Gator Cup
This past weekend was Gator Cup, the 3rd USAT qualifier, which took place in Newberry, Florida (a short drive from Gainesville). This tournament would also host the tryout for the World Championship team.
I’d been shooting very well lately, with my indoor scores being miles above where they had been during indoor season, even with shooting my skinny outdoor arrows vs my large diameter indoor line breaking arrows. R surprised me with an early birthday present of new stabilizers, which not only cut down on the sound of my bow each shot, but they really seemed to give me a better hold and therefore aim. So, needless to say I was pretty excited to show up to Florida and show everyone how much I had improved since Texas.
To make the team trials on Monday, you had to be in the top 8 after qualification day. I figured I would be right around the cut line, so I had to book my trip assuming I was staying the extra day. Unfortunately, in the days leading up to the tournament, it was announced that unlike World Game trials that I had participated in in Texas, these would be open to all Juniors, in addition to Seniors. Once I heard that, I knew my chances of getting a spot were virtually impossible. I tried to remain positive, but with the talent among the juniors, I knew it would be extremely tough (thank goodness you can change your flights for free with southwest!).
I also got some good news when R unexpectedly found out he needed to visit a client in Florida, so he was able to make plans to drive up and meet me at the tournament. After spending 2 weeks alone on the road on my last trip, I was thrilled to have him joining me.
I’ve always been worried about the heat and humidity at this tournament, being in Florida at the end of May/beginning of June. Lucky for me, the forecast showed home would actually be worse over this weekend, with a heat wave coming in. I still knew Florida wouldn’t be a walk in the park, temperature wise, so I packed lots of water bottles and Nuun.
I got up early on Friday, wanting to get to the field as soon as practice opened. First thing I noticed upon arriving at the field; Dang it was windy! I thought everyone said how there was never any wind at Gator Cup! Ohh well, I figured it couldn’t be worse than Texas. I started shooting and nothing felt right. My hold felt awful, I was getting blown around by the wind, and I couldn’t hit the 10 ring to save my life. I was getting more and more frustrated and decided to take a break, get my bow inspected and say hi to a couple of people from Hall’s Arrow that I knew would be there.
I came back and began shooting again. There were still decent winds, and now we were getting on and off quick bouts of rain. When I realized my shooting was not getting any better, I decided to call it a day and just relax. R showed up shortly after and just as he began to unpack his bow, the skies opened up and we all got drenched in the downpour.
Next day was qualification day, and I was just praying that things would go better than the day before. I opened the round terribly and was afraid that was a signal of things to come for the day. Luckily, I was able to turn things around. I shot way too many 8s, almost one every end (of 6), but I was able to shoot “ok.” I ended up shooting two of my highest 36 arrow scores and my total for the day was 89 points higher than Texas, and just one point shy of a 9 avg. Although I was very disappointed, knowing I had been consistently shooting 9.3/9.4 avgs lately, I knew this year was about learning and gaining experience.
I ended up 15th overall (counting the juniors), so no world championship trials for me, but I would have had the 8th spot if it was just seniors. Also, I didn’t have any misses and that was my best qualification finish yet…tried to focus on the positives.
My first elimination round matchup the next day would be against a woman from Canada. She was a para archer, but has travelled the world and has a lot of experience, so I knew it would not be a “give me” match. After showing up at the field for a start time of 8, the compound women didn’t shoot their first arrow for score until 11:30. I started off strong, and managed to stay in the lead the entire 15 arrow match, even though I still wasn’t shooting at my best. I finished with a 139, and now it was time to face off against the #2 seed. I knew she would be a VERY tough competitor, but I also knew if I could get past her, I’d have a much easier road.
At this point the heat and humidity were really starting to get to me. The sun was now out from behind the clouds and the humidity level was nearly at 100%, with off and on quick showers. My first end was a 10,10,7…ouch! I was bummed and frustrated, but knew I was still in the match if I could keep my head in it. Jaime, however, never let up, and I again didn’t shoot as well as I would have liked. I again finished with a 139, nowhere near what was needed to beat her and move on.
I was now feeling light-headed and having trouble seeing straight, so I knew I needed to get in some AC and fast. We headed to the car, where R packed my stuff up and I cooled down. At this point I struggled knowing my tournament was over, and once again I hadn’t shown people what I am capable of. I know I am practicing and putting in the time (much more than many of the women), but I am still not getting the consistent results I am looking for. I have So Cal (final qualifier) in a couple of weeks and then it’s Nationals. I’m hoping to figure things out, so I can shine in at least one of these before my outdoor season comes to a close.