RIO DE JANEIRO – Imagine that three top teams from the same college basketball conference were placed in the same eight-team subregional in the NCAA Tournament, assuring that only one of them could advance to a regional final.
That’s sort of what happened, by a sheer fluke, with the three members of the U.S. men’s Olympic archery team - Elma native Jake Kaminski, Brady Ellison and Zachary Garrett.
The U.S. men’s team lost to Korea in the gold-medal match on Saturday at Sambodromo. But their work isn’t complete yet. All three will compete in the 64-man individual event, which begins on Tuesday.
By the sheer luck of the draw – bad luck, you could call it – all three landed in the same eighth of the bracket. That means there’s a good chance one of them will make it to the round of eight and have a chance at an individual medal. But only one of them.
Ellison, who finished second in qualifying, plays Ali Elghrari of Libya, the No. 63 seed, on Wednesday. Kaminski, ranked 34th, plays Brazil’s Marcus D’Almeida, who is 31st. That match is opposite Ellison’s, so there’s a good chance Ellison and Kaminski will meet in the second round.
Garrett, who is ranked No. 3 in the world but had a subpar ranking round, is the 15th seed. He meets Haziq Kamaruddin of Malaysia in the first round. He’s likely to win and be waiting for either of his teammates, Ellison or Kaminski, in the third round on Wednesday.
By the quarterfinals – the equivalent of the Elite Eight in the NCAA tourney – only one of them can still be alive. So much for the dream of putting two or even three competitors in the, uh, Final Four.
“No, but that’s the way it fell and the way it is,” Kaminski said. “The scores are too close to switch too much. I could have done a little better in the ranking round and could have gotten a better seeding. But they could have too and it might have turned out the same.”
Kaminski didn’t get any favors with his first-round opponent either. D’Almeida is the 18-year-old star of Brazilian archery, which is gaining in popularity because of his exploits. He’s ranked 17th in the world (Kaminski is 26th), so that’s a tough draw.
“Yeah, but he’s not doing very well recently,” Kaminski said, “and I’m here to shoot well. If I shoot halfway like I did today, I’ll be fine.”