Alexander Massialas earned a sixth-place finish in Anaheim. Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi.
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Fencing in his home state, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Alex Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) earned a top-eight finish at the Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Grand Prix Anaheim.
Massialas went 3-1 on the day and secured his third top-eight result of the season after taking bronze at the Cairo World Cup earlier this month.
“I wanted to do as best I could to make the American fans proud,” Massialas said. “I know last year, I didn’t fence as well as I wanted to and it felt pretty bad. [2016 Olympic teammate Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)] was able to pull out a gold last year and I just really wanted to keep it on American soil. I fell a little bit short today, but I’m still proud of a lot of the fencing that came out today. I wish I’d fenced a little better in the last bout, but you go in everyday trying to win the whole thing, so that was my plan going in and unfortunately I couldn’t get the job done today, but still pretty proud.”
Massialas started his day with a 15-8 victory over Daniel Dosa (HUN), ending the bout on a 9-2 run.
In the 32, the 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist got off to a quick 10-2 start against two-time Junior European Championship medalist Wallerand Roger (FRA) and went on to win, 15-7.
Facing World No. 6 and 2012 Olympic Team Champion Giorgio Avola (ITA), Massialas found himself at a 6-3 deficit early, but scored straight six touches to take a 9-6 advantage.
“I was just trying to adjust to his distance … I think I was just getting a little too close to him,” Massialas said. “Listening to my coach and the other fencers, Race in particular and his insight because he’s been training in Italy and whatnot, telling me work on the distance and change things up helped me a lot to get back on track: finding the right distance, me initiating my actions and not waiting for him. So that’s what I tried to change – get back into my groove, my distance and don’t let him dictate the flow of the bout.”
Avola came back to tie the score at 11, but Massialas pulled away for an 15-12 victory, using the energy of fencing in front of a home crowd to help fuel him.
“It’s amazing. There are so many kids from our fencing club here, so many kids from all over California fencing clubs, whether it’s northern or southern,” Massialas said. “You could feel the crowd support and energy in every bout. My bout in the 16 against Avola, it was a close one, but having the crowd there for me, cheering every single touch was an amazing feeling and being able to put that 15th touch on in front of the whole crowd like that, it was an amazing feeling.”
One win away from a medal, Massialas fell into a 7-1 hole against 18-year-old Tommaso Marini (ITA) and couldn’t recover, dropping the bout, 15-9. The 2018 Junior World silver medalist went on to upset 2018 Senior World Champion Alessio Foconi (ITA), 15-9, in the semfinals to earn his first Grand Prix medal with a silver.
“I know he’s one of the top juniors. I came in pretty confident after my last match, but all in all, he fenced really well today,” Massialas said. “I know I could’ve fenced better. I could’ve made some changes earlier on in the bout, but I found the rhythm and timing a little bit too late and he was able to capitalize not only on my mistakes, but also make some good actions and dictate the flow of the bout himself, as opposed to me doing what I wanted to do. And kudos to him being able to really oppose his will.”
Massialas’ club teammate who was also a member on the 2016 bronze medal winning team, Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), claimed a top-16 finish in Anaheim.
Looking for his second Grand Prix medal of the season, Meinhardt came out hot in the 64, taking a 7-0 lead over Thomas Lerche Berg (DEN) and not letting up for a 15-4 victory.
Tied at seven with Pierre Loisel (FRA) in the 32, Meinhardt scored four straight and went on to a 15-10 win.
In the table of 16, Meinhardt fenced Ka Long Cheung (HKG), who he lost to in the semifinals at the Torino Grand Prix. Down 13-11, Meinhardt responded to take a 14-13 lead, but couldn’t hold on and lost, 15-14. Cheung went on to win bronze.
Entering the competition at No 1 in the world, Imboden was looking to repeat after winning gold at this event last year.
He bested 2018 Junior European Championship silver medalist Davide Filippi (ITA) in the opening round before being upset by his teammate, 2017 Junior World bronze medalist Guillaume Bianchi (ITA), by a score of 15-10.
The fourth member of the 2016 Olympic team, Miles Chamley-Watson (New York, N.Y.) had high stakes at this event, needing a top-eight to move into fourth in the USA Fencing Senior Men’s Foil Team Point Standings and make his 10th straight Senior World Championship Team where he would compete with Massialas, Imboden and Meinhardt who have mathematically locked their position in the top four through podium finishes on the circuit this season.
The 2013 World Champion overcame three-time Junior Asian Championship medalist Yudai Nagano (JPN), 15-11, in the table of 64, which led to a table of 32 matchup with 2004 Olympic Champion Andrea Cassara (ITA). Although Chamley-Watson had won both match-ups this season, Cassara played spoiler for Chamley-Watson on home soil, handing him a 15-5 loss.
Notre Dame sophomore Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.), the reigning Junior World Champion who earned his first Senior World Cup medal of the season in November, will earn the fourth individual position on the 2019 Senior World Team, qualifying for his first senior team alongside Meinhardt, Massialas and Imboden who combine for 24 Senior World Team appearances among them, including the last six straight teams together.
Imboden, Meinhardt and Massialas are all among the top 10 fencers in the world holding world rankings of No. 3, No. 6 and No. 10, respectively.
The complete Senior World Team for both the foil and epee weapons will be named after the conclusion of the USA Fencing Division I National Championships, April 12-15 in Salt Lake City.
Two-time Junior World team medalist Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.) also earned a top-32 finish, his best result since January of 2018.
In his first table of 64 appearance on the senior circuit this season, the Harvard sophomore held three-time Asian Championship medalist Ryo Miyake (JPN) to single digits at 15-9.
The following round he came within a touch of upsetting Foconi 15-14.
The winner of the men’s event was Julien Mertine (FRA), who clinched his first Grand Prix gold by defeating Cheung in the semis, 15-13, and Marini, 15-13, in the final.
In the women’s competition, two-time Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) and 15-year-old Zander Rhodes (South Orange, N.J.) earned top-32 finishes.
At No. 3 in the world, Kiefer defeated 2013 World silver medalist Carolin Golubytskyi (GER), 15-11, in the 64, but lost to three-time European Championship medalist Larisa Korobeynikova (RUS), 15-12, in the next round. Korobeynikova went on to win bronze.
Kiefer’s top-32 finish allowed her to retain her world ranking and mathematically secure a position on her 10th straight Senior World Team at just 24 years old. London Olympian Nicole Ross (New York, N.Y.) lost to Leyla Pirieva (RUS) in the 64, but will fence on a ninth straight World Team in Budapest, Hungary in July. Both two-time Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and five-time Junior World medalist Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) will compete at Junior Worlds as well with Prescod qualifying for her 10th straight Senior World Team and Dubrovich earning a position on her first senior squad.
Competing at her first senior international event, Rhodes posted a 15-12 victory over two-time Olympic medalist Hyunhee Nam (KOR), 15-12, in the 64 before losing to 2009 World silver medalist Hee Sook Jeon (KOR), 15-5.
Inna Deriglazova (RUS) defeated teammate Korobeynikova in the semis, 15-7, and narrowly outtouched Alice Volpi (ITA), 15-14, in a battle between World No. 1 versus No. 2, winning her sixth Grand Prix title and second straight at this event.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who earned top-64 results on Sunday as well as athletes who placed outside the 64 on Friday (men) and Saturday (women):
Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Men’s Foil Grand Prix Anaheim
1. Julien Mertine (FRA)
2. Tommaso Marini (ITA)
3. Alessio Foconi (ITA)
3. Ka Long Cheung (HKG)
5. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
6. Alex Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
7. Alexander Choupenitch (CZE)
8. Valerio Aspromonte (ITA)
10. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
17. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
23. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York, N.Y.)
24. Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.)
36. Marcello Olivares (Cooper City, Fla.)
61. Philip Shin (New York, N.Y.)
67. Brian Kaneshige (Hoboken, N.J.)
72. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
76. Kenji Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
80. Gregory Mitberg (Beaverton, Ore.)
81. Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.)
81. Samuel Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.)
88. Ethan Gassner (San Francisco, Calif.)
93. James Liao (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
113. Adam Mathieu (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
118. Chase Emmer (Morristown, N.J.)
124. Andrew Chung (Yorba Linda, Calif.)
127. Joseph Marino (Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
133. Joon Paik (Norwood, N.J.)
149. Stuart Holmes (Centereach, N.Y.)
181. Shane Iverson (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Women’s Foil Grand Prix Anaheim
1. Inna Deriglazova (RUS)
2. Alice Volpi (ITA)
3. Hee Sook Jeon (KOR)
3. Larisa Korobeynikova (RUS)
5. Leonie Ebert (GER)
6. Arianna Errigo (ITA)
7. Martina Batini (ITA)
8. Erica Cipressa (ITA)
17. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
28. Zander Rhodes (South Orange, N.J.)
36. Nicole Ross (New York, N.Y.)
44. Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
48. May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.J.)
54. Justina Lam (Cherry Hill, N.J.)
57. Rachel Zhang (Winchester, Mass.)
60. Helen Tan (Coppell, Texas)
61. Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.)
66. Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.)
67. Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
69. Lauren Scruggs (Ozone Park, N.Y.)
81. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
86. Ever Marinelli (San Francisco, Calif.)
88. Delphine DeVore (Westport, Conn.)
93. Stefani Deschner (Versailles, Ky.)
99. Emme Zhou (Lexington, Mass.)
112. Samantha Viqueira (Maplewood, N.J.)
126. Morgan Partridge (Swansea, Mass.)
132. Hunt Tarleton (Bellaire, Texas)
134. Sabrina Cho (Hillsborough, Calif.)
138. Sara Martos (El Cerrito, Calif.)