Despite the largest one-day snowfall on record for southcentral Pennsylvania, the 2016 Lancaster Archery Classic plowed forward and ended on Sunday, Jan. 24, with some thrilling shoot-offs among the world's best archers.
Nearly 1,000 archers shot qualifying rounds Thursday and Friday. As the last line of archers was finishing Friday night, the snow started falling. It didn't stop for more than 24 hours.
The weather forecast fluctuated all week, and Lancaster Archery Supply president Rob Kaufhold was determined to keep the competition going as long as possible. Qualifying rounds were held as scheduled.
On Friday night, blizzard conditions and 60 mph winds were forecast for Saturday, which put Lancaster right in the heart of the storm. Kaufhold and his management team decided to suspend the tournament for Saturday, and resume competition on Sunday.
That meant elimination rounds had to be called off, and archers were selected to compete in the final shoot-up matches based on their qualifying scores.
"No one wanted to see every arrow shot in this tournament more than I did," Kaufhold told the crowd Sunday afternoon.
The decision upset some archers, but most stood behind the move. Especially after the storm hit.
Media outlets reported that 30.2 inches fell on nearby Harrisburg over a 24-hour period during the storm. That's the largest snowfall ever, since records of such events first started being kept over a century ago.
Even after the snow stopped falling well after sunset Saturday, it took a monumental effort by the LAS crew to get the tournament venue – the Lanco Fieldhouse in East Petersburg, Pa. – ready for competition at 8:30 Sunday morning.
That effort included moving snowdrifts 5 feet deep from parking lots, so archers and spectators had places to park their vehicles Sunday.
Sixty archers in 13 divisions competed in final shoot-up matches Sunday. Several of those matches took place on the Classic's brand new shoot-up stage.
That stage placed the archers on individual platforms, surrounded by spotlights and spectators. A giant video monitor placed directly over the competition target matts displayed all the action and drama.
Matches shot on this stage were broadcast to the world via Lancaster Archery Supply's website and World Archery's online channel. More than 1,600 people watched the matches live at the peak of the broadcast.
It was a pressure-packed setting. As Kaufhold put it, "We wanted to make it entertaining to watch and terrifying to be part of."
Men's Open archer Adam Carlise, who finished fourth, gave some insight into the pressure he felt on the finals shoot-up stage when he told Kaufhold, "I need a nap now," after he won four matches, before falling to the No. 3 seed, Jason Dickey, in that division.
The Bowhunter Division shoot-up demonstrated that all you need is a chance. No. 3 seed Caleb Kerstetter beat Jeff Human in the first shoot-up to advance to a semifinal match against Tim Ewers. Kerstetter won that one, and earned the right to take on top seed Mike Patterson. That match ended in a tie – 127-127 – before Kerstetter took the championship in sudden death.
The Barebow Division was only in its second year for the 2016 Classic, but the field grew this year to nearly 50 archers. Obviously, barebow shooting is still alive and well in the archery world.
John Demmer III emerged from qualifying as the top seed, with a strong score of 567. In the final shoot-up in that division, Demmer held off No. 2 seed Jared Neal by a narrow, one-point margin, taking the championship by a score of 108-107.
Texas native MacKenzie Brown easily took the top seed for the Women's Recurve shoot-up by posting a qualifying score that was 53 points higher than anyone else in the division. The competition was a bit tighter when it came to the finals.
No. 3 seed Laura Bennett Shelton won the first and second matches to win the right to take on Brown for the title. Brown narrowly captured the championship with a 113-112 victory over Shelton.
In the Masters Open Pro Division, No. 2 seed Duane Price defeated No. 3 seed Ray Tenbrook to qualify for the championship match against top-seeded Benton Christensen. In that match, Price and Christensen ended the 12-arrow match tied at 127, and it took sudden-death arrows for Price to emerge with the win.
The Women's Open Pro bracket featured a championship match between top seed Toja Cerne of Slovenia and American Sarah Lance, who was seeded second.
Lance took first place through sudden-death arrows, after she and Cerne finished the regular match tied at 128.
The Men's Open Pro shoot-up featured eight of the best compound archers in the world. Every match was tight, with four of the seven being decided by sudden death, and the three others by one or two points.
The semi-final match pitted No. 4 seed Braden Gellenthien, who took home the gold just a week earlier at the prestigious World Cup tournament in Nimes, France, against No. 2 seed Alex Wifler – winner of the 2015 Vegas Shoot.
Wifler advanced through sudden death to take on No. 1 seed Reo Wilde – the only four-time champion of the Lancaster Archery Classic and the current No. 4 ranked male compound archer in the world.
Wifler gained a two-point advantage early in the match and held on to win the championship by one point. He took home the tournament's top prize of $15,000, in addition to thousands more in contingency checks.
You can view the complete results of the finals matches in each division at www.lancasterarchery.com/archery-classic/
Lancaster Archery Supply thanks all of its Classic sponsors, T.R.U. Ball/Axcel, Carbon Express, Gold Tip, Easton, Hoyt, AAE, Rinehart, CBE, SKB, Bohning, Black Eagle, Elite, Prime, Mathews, Bee Stinger, Scott, Samick, Shibuya, Feather Vision, Dead Center, BCY, Doinker, PSE, Leupold, Victory, Shrewd, Gateway Feathers, Win & Win, STAN, American Target Systems, Last Chance Archery, TopHat, Carter, Plano Synergy, Maple Leaf Press, Limbsaver, Specialty Archery, Cartel, QAD, Beiter, HHA, Sure-Loc and CAP.