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Former JMU archer qualifies for London

James Madison alumnus and former JMU archery team member Jacob Wukie (’08) has qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.

On Sunday, Wukie won the final spot on the three-man archery team that will represent the United States at this summer’s Olympic Games.  The other team members are Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski, who placed one-two in the qualifying rankings.

A native of Oak Harbor, Ohio, Wukie qualified following a grueling Olympic Trials process that took place over a 10-month period and consisted of three separate events.  The final qualifying tournament concluded Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Following an intense first day of competition with a hotly contested ranking round and an elimination round that produced upsets and surprises, the point standings were in flux for the third spot in the men’s group.  All of the competitors on the field showcased solid shooting, with the fight for the third spot literally coming down to less than two points.

Ellison was a runaway winner, scoring 149 points to Kaminski’s 129.  Wukie scored 103 points to edge Joe Fanchin, who scored 101.25 points.

The Olympic Archery Trials began in September 2011 in College Station, Texas.  The top 16 athletes from the September competition then competed in April at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., with the top eight from Chula Vista advancing to the final event in Colorado Springs.

Wukie placed fourth in both the September competition and the April tournament.

Ellison, who led the men’s field since the first Trials event in September, will be competing in his second Olympic Games in London, after making his debut in Beijing in 2008.  He is the first archer ever to win three consecutive World Cup stages, has held the number one world ranking since 2011, and is considered a gold-medal contender in London. Shooting for his first Olympic Team will be Kaminski, who has been a regular on the World Cup circuit since 2010, holding onto the second spot on the men’s team since September as well. Wukie, who clinched his spot on the team by just 1.75 points, was the Olympic Team alternate for Beijing and has significant international experience to his credit.

Thomas Stanwood, five-time Olympian Butch Johnson, three-time Olympian Vic Wunderle and Dan Schuller rounded out the top eight who competed in the Trials on the men’s side.

Wukie was a junior on the 2007 JMU men’s team that won the national collegiate championship in the final year that the school fielded an intercollegiate archery team.  He finished second individually in the national tournament, losing to teammate Nathan McCullough in the finals, and earned All-America honors.  Wukie placed third individually in the 2006 national collegiate tournament.

While almost all of the Olympic Team members will compete at the Nor’easter USAT Qualifier Series Event on June 8-10 in Canton, Mass., the next official stop for the archers of Team USA will be the third stage of the Archery World Cup and Final Olympic Qualification Tournament on June 17-24 in Ogden, Utah.

The Olympic archery competition will be held at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood in northwest London.  The team competition is scheduled for July 28, and the individual rounds are scheduled for July 27, 30, 31 and Aug. 1 and 3.

“Congratulations to Jacob Wukie for making the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team,” said Bob Ryder, his coach while competing at JMU.  “We knew he could do it.”

Wukie is the third JMU athlete to earn a spot on a U.S. Olympic Team, following track and field athletes Juli Speights Henner and Tiombé Hurd.  Speights Henner ran the 1,500 meters at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and Hurd competed in the triple jump in 2004 Athens Olympics.

Wukie won’t be the only JMU alumnus traveling to London with the U.S. Archery Team.  Cindy Gilbert-Bevilacqua (’84), a 2000 JMU Sports Hall of Fame inductee, is the team manager.  Gilbert-Bevilacqua was a three-time archery All-America and a member of the first JMU team in any sport to win a national championship.  She placed third in the U.S. Intercollegiate Championships in 1982, when the JMU team won the national title, and again was third in 1983.  The Media, Pa., native placed sixth in the U.S. intercollegiate tournament in 1984 and was named to the U.S. National Team that year.

Follow@usaarchery on Twitter and USA Archery on Facebook throughout the season and through the Olympic and Paralympic Games for complete coverage.