Jackie Dubrovich finished the pool rounds at 5-1 to advance directly to the table of 64. Photo Credit: #BizziTeam
(Budapest, Hungary) – Team USA will have the maximum four women’s foil and four men’s epee fencers competing in the table of 64 on Friday at the Senior World Championships with three fencers advancing through the preliminary rounds on Tuesday.
Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) went 5-1 in pools to take the 30th seed in the table of 64 alongside teammates Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.), Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) and Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) who were exempt due to their top-16 world rankings and are seeded No. 5, No. 14 and No. 15, respectively.
In the men’s epee event, Adam Rodney (New Orleans, La.) finished at 6-0 to take the No. 25 seed into the 64. James Kaull (New York City, N.Y.) went 4-2 and won two direct elimination buts to advance as the No. 52 seed. Curtis McDowald (Jamaica, N.Y.) and Jake Hoyle (New York City, N.Y.) were exempt as the No. 11 and 12 seeds, respectively.
Fencing in what fans quickly dubbed the pool of death, Dubrovich posted wins over 2013 Senior World silver medalist Carolin Golubytskyi (GER) at 5-3 and five-time Senior World individual medalist Aida Mohamed (HUN) at 5-1. Her only loss came at 5-2 to Yana Aborova – who won two Junior World team medals for Russia before changing her representation to Uzbekistan.
“I was very very stressed going into it … it’s probably the hardest pool I’ve ever had. I was really happy that I was able to stay focused throughout the entire pool and just maintain that same level of intensity,” Dubrovich said. “Maintaining focus is so so important. If you have any lapse in judgment or focus it can really impact you … This is my first World Championships, so I’m just trying to maintain that same level of focus and intensity that I’ve had all season and bring it here.”
After graduating from Columbia in 2016, Dubrovich chose to continue to fence for the upcoming quad with the goal of competing at the 2020 Olympic Games and inspiration from 2004 Olympian Jed Dupree (New York City, N.Y.)
“It was definitely a decision that I took a lot of time to come to. I think the fact that I decided to work with Jed Dupree really made me want to continue fencing. He’s really exposed me to a new perspective on fencing and it’s been really great to work with him,” Dubrovich said. “And I just felt that I still had more to prove and more room to grow after college. This year I’m focusing solely on fencing and so, for me, I want to show what I’m capable of and just push myself to the limits.”
In the table of 64, Dubrovich will fence Hanna Lyczbinska (POL) for the first time in her career with 2018 Senior World silver medalist Ysaora Thibus (FRA) potentially waiting in the 32 as the No. 3 seed. With two wins, Dubrovich could fence Ross, a London Olympian in the 16. Ross’s early rounds could include two Pan Am opponents with Nataly Michel (MEX) in the 64 and a potential bout against Eleanor Harvey (CAN) after defeating Harvey in overtime at last month’s Pan Am Championships.
Two-time Olympian Kiefer drew Alexandra Senyuta (UKR) in the table of 64 with the winner fencing three-time Senior World team medalist Anita Blaze (FRA) or Nicole Pustilnik (ISR). Other fencers to watch in Kiefer’s quadrant include two-time Senior World Team Champion Larisa Korobeynikova (RUS) in the 16 and two-time individual Senior World Champion Arianna Errigo (ITA) in the eight.
Prescod, a two-time Olympian who won bronze at the 2015 Worlds and placed in the top eight with Kiefer last year, will fence Hiu Wai Valerie Cheng (HKG) in the 64 and could meet Jessica Guo (CAN) in the 32. Guo earned a top eight on the circuit as a 13 year old and took Ross to overtime in the Pan Am finals last month. In the 16, Prescod could take on 2016 Olympic Champion Inna Deriglazova (RUS). Prescod and Deriglazova have fenced eight times on the senior circuit with Deriglazova winning the last four bouts and Prescod winning the first four.
In the men’s epee pools, Rodney went undefeated at 6-0 with clutch wins in the second and third bouts.
With the score tied at three after three minutes against 2019 Cali Grand Prix silver medalist Radoslaw Zawrotniak (POL), Rodney scored first in the overtime minute to take the bout, 4-3.
“Zawrotniak – he’s a very decorated fencer. He’s been doing it for a long time. He’s probably one of the most seasoned fencers in the competition,” Rodney said. “He had the big result at the Cali Grand Prix so I was not about to sleep on him … I think it was 2010 the last time we fenced, so I was looking forward to that bout, but we knew each other’s strengths well.”
In the next bout, Hoi Sun Fong (HKG) came out with a 3-1 lead before Rodney tied the score at four and came back to win the bout, 5-4, after splitting their two previous bouts on the circuit this year.
“We saw each other earlier [this year] and I knew it was going to be a tough bout. He broke out early in the bout, but I threw some stuff off the line just to see what I could scrape up in the last few seconds of the bout,” Rodney said. “It worked and the next thing you know it was tied and I squeaked it out.”
Rodney won his next three bouts to finish the day with six victories as the team’s oldest male competitor at age 34.
“I’ve been with the program for a while now. It’s great to see some new blood. From top to bottom, the confidence of this team is crazy. As someone older and someone who’s been doing it for a while, I’ts good to see that life back in the program,” Rodney said. “From Curtis to Jake to James and even the guys outside the four, they fuel me and motivate me to keep going and give me an edge. We always say in our program to just ride the wave and we all feel good, so just keep doing it.”
Rodney will open the table of 64 with a bout against Yunior Reytor Venet (CUB) – the reigning Pan Am bronze medalist whom Rodney has only fenced in pools, splitting his bouts against the Cuban with a win at the Pan Ams last month and a loss in 2017. The winner could fence World No. 7 Andrea Santarelli (ITA) – a silver medalist last month at the Europeans and earlier this year at the Budapest Grand Prix.
Kaull got off to a good start in pools with three straight wins before dropping two and ending the round at 4-2.
He would need two direct elimination wins to qualify for the second day and picked up his first with a 10-3 run in the third period to defeat Fabrizio Lazaroto (BRA), 15-7. Kaull had a similar run in his bout against Jakov Sola (CRO) in the preliminary table of 64, pulling away from a tie at five in the second to win the bout, 15-9 in the third.
“I’ve prepared all year for [this]. You always want to go 6-0 and that’s our mentality. When that first or second loss comes in, it’s always a pivotal moment,” Kaull said. “I’ve felt all sorts of ways about it throughout the year. So it was cool to have that happen and fight the two DEs and make the second day which hasn’t happened in a long time.”
Like Rodney, Kaull also was excited for the opportunity to fence with all three of his teammates in the 64 on Friday.
“It represents a group effort from the top down,” he said. “From our personal coaches to the managers to the head coaches, the guys flying out to these camps – that’s exactly what the definition of a group effort is and today is everybody’s win.”
In the 64, Kaull’s first round opponent will be Bas Verwijlen (NED) – a two-time Senior World medalist whom Kaull has never met in a direct elimination bout, but has become familiar to the Americans this season, falling to Hoyle at the Heidenheim World Cup and defeating Rodney at the Doha Grand Prix. Jakub Jurka (CZE), the 2017-18 Overall Junior World Cup Champion, would be Hoyle’s likely opponent in the 32 with 2012 Olympic Champion Ruben Limardo (VEN) waiting in the 16.
Hoyle drew Romain Cannone (FRA) in the table of 64 – a rematch of their quarter-final bout at the Vancouver World Cup where Hoyle won both the bout and bronze – his second international podium finish of the season. The winner would take on either Oleg Sokolov (UZB) or Masaru Yamada (JPN) in the 32. In a quadrant with two Olympic Champions, Hoyle could meet Rio gold medalist Sangyoung Park in the 16 and the winner of Kaull’s bracket that includes Limardo in the eight.
In 2018, McDowald earned a top-eight finish at his first Senior Worlds with his final loss coming to World No. 4 Bogdan Nikishin (UKR). McDowald won bronze during his last trip to Budapest at the Grand Prix in March and has the goal of becoming the first U.S. men’s epee fencer to win an individual medal at the Senior Worlds. His road will begin with Ahmed Elsaghir (EGY) with other potential opponents including World No. 6 Dmitriy Alexanin (KAZ) in the 16.
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