ROCKINGHAM — Ty Pruitte has mostly fond memories of his time in China, but also experienced a little disappointment.
The Hamlet native made his debut for the U.S. men’s compound cadet team earlier this month in the World Archery Youth Championships in Wuxi.
“It was fun,” Pruitte said. “I had fun. I learned a little about their country. I wish I could have done a little better.”
Pruitte, who was competing for the first time in an international competition, qualified 19th out of 50 archers. Pruitte felt he could have qualified in a better position, but a change in the weather caused him some problems.
“We had two days of practice and I was shooting really well,” he said. “Then during qualifying it dropped something like 20 degrees and there was a 40 mile per hour wind. We were shooting in a soccer stadium and the wind was coming from everywhere. I didn’t shoot terribly but I didn’t shoot to my ability.”
Pruitte’s father, Johnny, who accompanied him to China said the temperature went from “around 78 degrees to 50.”
In the medal round, Pruitte defeated Matthew Ingram from Great Britain 142-138 in his first match. Pruitte was knocked out in his next matchup by India’s Govindas Singh Thokchom 146-132 to officially finish in a tie for 17th place.
During his loss to Thokchom, Pruitte was hampered by a piece of faulty equipment which caused him to take zero points in one of his rounds. His release went flying off and the arrow landed just outside of his reach. If he would have been able to retrieve the arrow, he would have been allowed to shoot it again without penalty.
“It went off my hand and I hit myself in the eye,” Pruitte said. “It knocked my contact out and I had to shoot the rest of the match without it. I couldn’t really see…I could see a little of the colors on the target and that’s what I was shooting at.”
Pruitte didn’t just compete in the individual event, he combined with Chris Bee and Justin Dixon in the team competition. The threesome qualified third amongst the 13 teams.
After receiving a bye in the first round, the U.S. squad edged India in the quarterfinals to advance to battle Turkey, the No. 2. Turkey, which would go on to capture the gold, edged Pruitte and his teammates by two points to drop the U.S. into the bronze medal contest with Mexico.
The match, which is available on YouTube.com, was tied at 199 heading into the final round of shooting. The U.S. team went first and recorded 28 points as Pruitte and Bee each sent an arrow into the 10-point circle. Mexico notched a 10 and a 9 with its first two archers before connecting with a 10 on its final shot to edge the U.S. squad by a point.
“It was 23 minutes, but it felt more like 10,” Pruitte said of the match. “It was the best 20 minutes of my life.”
Pruitte added coming home without a medal will push him to return to the national team.
“It makes me want to drive that much harder and get there again,” he said.
Pruitte will now turn his focus to the U.S. team trials for the World Archery Indoor Championships Dec. 13 to 15 in Newberry, Fla.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.