The 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic Jan. 25-27 was one for the history books. Not only did the number of registered archers – 1,794 – shatter last year’s record attendance of 1,488, but Open Pro archer Braden Gellenthien accomplished something that had only ever been done once before in the 16-year history of the East Coast’s largest archery tournament.
In qualifications Friday at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pa., Gellenthien, who is one of the world’s most accomplished tournament archers, shot a perfect score of 660. All 60 of his arrows found the center 11 ring. The only time that has ever happened before was in 2009, when Reo Wilde posted a 660 qualification score.
But as we all quickly learned Saturday morning, shooting a great qualification score does not mean anything in terms of getting to the Classic finals shoot-up stage if you can’t get through the head-to-head elimination matches. Gellenthien survived his first match in the Open Pro bracket against Andy Callaway in a tie-breaker, but he was knocked out of the competition in the second round by Brian Meese.Ultimately, the tournament’s top prize of $20,000 was awarded to Open Pro champ Jacob Marlow. Always a crowd favorite with his southern drawl and fun sense of humor on the line, Marlow finally won the Classic title in his third trip to the finals shoot-up.
“I tried not to think about anything else,” Marlow said. “I just focused on one arrow at a time.”As his gold-medal match progressed against No. 1 qualifier and 2017 Classic Open Pro champ Mike Schloesser, Marlow’s shots seemed to get tighter and tighter to the center. Asked if he was feeling better as the match wore on, Marlow responded with his typical, self-deprecating humor.“Oh no, I felt terrible the whole time,” he said. “I hate the nerves.”
In addition to the $20,000 he received from Lancaster Archery, Marlow added a $10,000 contingency check from his bow sponsor, Elite, and another $1,600 in contingencies from his other equipment sponsors.“I’m 1-1 against Mikey in these matches, so hopefully we’ll get a rematch,” Marlow said of competing against Schloesser in the Classic finals.Other notable champions crowned at this year’s Classic were Jack Williams in Men’s Recurve, Gabriela Bayardo in Women’s Recurve, Michael Fisher in Barebow and Tanja Jensen in Women’s Open Pro.TIM ‘THE CEO’ HANLEY
The Men’s Open division is always the largest division at the Lancaster Archery Classic. This year, there were 317 archers who competed in that group of amateurs. To win that division, an archer has to be on top of his game, and he has to defeat a lot of other really good archers.
Tim Hanley, 32, of New Jersey this year traveled to the Classic for the first time “in a number of years,” he said, and worked his way to the No. 8 seed for the finals shoot-up. That’s a tough spot to start from, given the Classic’s shoot-up finals format, where the first match features the two lowest ranked archers. The winner advances to compete against the next archer in ranking, and so on until someone faces off against the top qualifier for the title.In the 16-year history of the Classic, no No. 8-ranked archer in Men’s Open has ever shot his way to the title. That would require shooting a minimum of 84 arrows, assuming no tie-breakers were needed, over the course of seven matches.Wearing a long-sleeve, pin-striped dress shirt, Hanley won his first match, then his second, and then his third. By the fourth round, commenters watching the livestream on YouTube were referring to him as “Tim ‘The CEO’ Hanley,” because of his dress shirt. In the audience at Spooky Nook, the crowd began rallying behind Hanley as he shot his way through the field. By the time he faced off against top-qualifier Doug Williams, Hanley was clearly the crowd favorite. Everyone loves an underdog, right?Against all odds, Hanley defeated Williams by a score of 130-127, meaning Hanley only missed two 11s in his seventh match of the day. He seemed to get stronger, when he should have gotten weaker.
“I had already exceeded my expectations in getting to the finals,” Hanley said. “From there, I just trusted my shot and it turned out pretty good.”BAREBOW CRAZE
The Barebow competition at the Classic has been growing by leaps and bounds the last few years, and this year was no exception. After reaching a registration total of 125 last year, the number of barebow competitors ballooned this year to 207.On YouTube, the Barebow finals video from 2018 has been viewed nearly 250,000 times over the past year, generating incredible enthusiasm for and interest in that discipline. For the 2019 finals, the venue was packed with rowdy fans Saturday night, and more than 1,600 followed the livestream of the competition.
The field featured four new faces on the Classic stage – Ben Rogers, Spanky Brooks, Michael Fisher and Grayson Partlowe. Missing were more familiar names, including John Demmer and Rich Barker, who got knocked out of the tournament in the elimination stage. Bobby Worthington, another Barebow finals regular, withdrew from the Classic at the last minute, due to illness.The final match between Fisher and Partlowe was a see-saw battle, with Fisher ultimately coming out on top, shooting a dead-center 11 on his last shot. When his arrow hit the target, the arena erupted into cheers of, “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!” That was a nod to Fisher’s Australian home.NEW RECURVE CHAMPS
The Men’s and Women’s Recurve finals featured the usual field of heavy hitters. Casey Kaufhold, 14, led the Women’s field with a qualification score of 604. With three-time defending champ Mackenzie Brown knocked out in eliminations, Casey – who finished second to Brown the past two years – was a likely favorite. However, Gabriela Bayardo, whom Casey had beaten the two previous times the two had met at the Classic, shot just a little stronger in the gold-medal finals match, and took the title, with Casey finishing second.
On the Men’s side, two-time defending champ Brady Ellison was the top seed in the finals. In the gold-medal match, he squared off against Jack Williams who toppled two giants to get to Ellison. Williams, who is considered a favorite to join Ellison on the next U.S. Olympic Team, first defeated multi-Olympic medal winner Michelle Frangili of Italy. Next, he took down Canada’s top recurve archer, Crispin Duenas, who was runner-up to Ellison at the last two Classics.Williams shot incredibly strong in his match against Ellison, with end scores of 31, 31, 31 and 33. Those scores topped Ellison by two points, and Williams took the title – his best finish at the Classic.
“This is a great venue and a wonderful tournament,” Williams said of the 2019 Classic. “My good shots just felt really strong today.”Williams and Ellison compete regularly in training, so they are good friends, yet fierce competitors.“I’m sure we’ll have a rematch sometime,” Williams said with a wide smile.YOUTH TROPHY TOURNAMENT
For the second year, the Easton Youth Trophy Tournament offered a tournament within the Classic for young archers who might not yet be ready for the full Classic tournament, but who want to get big-time competition experience.
A total of 375 young archers competed in the event, which was confined solely to Saturday, and which cost a fraction of the money required to compete in the Classic. These archers shot the same number of arrows as shot in the Classic qualification - 60 - on the same field that the Classic archers shot on.Archers were divided by gender, by equipment - compound, recurve and barebow - and by age, with divisions for Cub, Bowman, Cadet and Junior competitors. Winners were determined by scores posted in the 60-arrow round. And there were some serious scores put up by these young archers.
Out of a possible 660 points, Foster Jones recorded a 624 to win the Compound Cadet Male division; Ryan Kitts won Compound Junior Male with a 633; Hannah Ball won Barebow Cadet Female, and posted the highest score among all the female barebow archers of any age, with a 434; Jada Cho's 513 in Recurve Cub Female won that division. For a complete list of Easton Youth Trophy Tournament results, click here.
Many of the Youth Trophy archers and their parents said they enjoyed the experience they got from competing in a big venue with so many other archers. Count on this event to continue at future Classics, and for it to grow as the years pass.Here are the top-three finishers in each of the 15 divisions at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic:Men’s Open Pro
– Jacob Marlow, Mike Schloesser and Dave CousinsWomen’s Open Pro
– Tanja Jensen, Sarah Prieels, Dusti BatschMasters Open Pro
– Benton Christensen, Keith Trail, Kendall WoodyMen’s Recurve
– Jack Williams, Brady Ellison, Crispin DuenasWomen’s Recurve
– Gabriela Bayardo, Casey Kaufhold, Virginie ChenierBarebow
– Michael Fisher, Grayson Partlowe, Spanky BrooksMen’s Open
– Tim Hanley, Doug Williams, Brad Baker Jr.Women’s Open
– Savannah Baye Vanderwier, Jamilee Moore, Sachi KeaneSenior Open
– Glenn Talley, Benny Parenteau, Dee WildeMasters Open
– Bob Reedinger, Danny Minnick, Wayne JohnsonBowhunter
– Charles Hunnell, Luke Long, John WheelerYouth Male Open
– Trevor Silverson, Zachary Harris, Tyler HeritageYouth Female Open
– Faith Miller, Ava Dremann, Reagan BryanYouth Male Recurve
– Dallas Jones, Joonsuh Oh, Zachary KimYouth Female Recurve
– Whitney Jensen, Imogen Grzemski, Brianna Laux