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Colome Archer Caps Strong Weekend With Title

For it being his first major archery tournament, Wade McClanahan was confident for the First Dakota Classic.

Sure, there were some nerves for the 16-year-old from Colome, but after all, this is what he wants to do. He wants to eventually become a professional archer.

And he may be off to a good start.

McClanahan, who has been shooting competitive archery for three years, won his division on Sunday at the weekend tournament which concluded at the Easton Yankton Archery Center.

“I knew I had to shoot the best I could, and that’s what I did,” said McClanahan, who defeated Curtis Broadnax by two arrows, 146-144, for first place in the Freestyle Young Adults division.

“I worked with what I had and shot the way I wanted,” McClanahan added.

And not just Sunday either.

McClanahan captured a $5,000 amateur prize during Saturday night’s $10,000 shoot-off. Rodger Willett Jr., a professional archer, won the big prize, but McClanahan had made a name for himself.

Which is exactly what he wanted, after all those hours shooting at an archery range near his home in Colome.

McClanahan shoots at the Rosebud Arrow Rod & Gun Club in Winner, about a 15-minute drive for McClanahan. That facility features a 20-meter indoor range, as well as an outdoor range with distances at 30, 40 and 50 yards.

That kind of practice at 50 yards – the same distance as his Sunday ends – undoubtedly helped McClanahan, he said.

“It is nice to be able to shoot the distances,” McClanahan said. “I don’t get the angles I would get on a field course.”

That experience not only led to his first-ever First Dakota Classic title, but the hope that it turns into added momentum for his budding career.

“It was fun, I enjoyed it a lot,” McClanahan said.

What’s next for him?

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “Hopefully we get to come back here next year.”

While there were new champions like McClanahan at the First Dakota Classic, there was a familiar battle in the top division – the Freestyle Male. It eventually became a showdown between of the top professional archers in the United States.

Jesse Broadwater edged Braden Gellenthien in a one-arrow shoot-off for first place in what was the most intense battle among the 20 divisions. The duo were tied after three ends of action (five arrows for each per end), and then went to a shoot-off – a familiar spot for each at the First Dakota Classic.

“When you’re shooting right beside a person who shoots that strong, you try hard not to pay attention to what they’re doing,” said Broadwater, a 32-year-old pro who lives in Florida.

“That’s the hardest part about archery, blocking everything else out and focusing on what you’ve trained to do.”

The drama of the shoot-off between the two was already intense, but the fact that it came following a new-look format the First Dakota Classic this weekend added some extra nerves. For the first time, the tournament went to a head-to-head bracket format for Sunday’s final rounds.

And making matters even more interesting was that archers like Broadwater and Gellenthien were shooting at 60 yards all day Sunday.

“In head to head matches, there’s a little bit of pressure involved, but it makes it tough at 60 (yards),” Broadwater said. “You have to put the nerves and everything aside so you can get the 10 (score).

“That’s the hardest part of it.”

Broadwater, no stranger to South Dakota, said he is planning to return to Yankton later this summer to compete in the World Field Team Trials – set for July 3 at the Easton Complex.

Originally published in the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan June 12, 2016. Written by Jeremy Hoeck.