Eliza Stone earned a top-finish finish at Senior Worlds, ending the season No. 7 in the world. Photo Credit: #BizziTeam
Budapest, Hungary) – Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) advanced to the quarter-finals at the Senior World Championships on Friday as just the third U.S. women’s saber fencer to do so in the last decade.
Coming on the final day of individual competition at the Senior World Championships, Stone’s fifth place finish is the third of the week for Team USA as she joins men’s saber fencer Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) and women’s foil fencer Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) in reaching the quarter-finals.
Seeking to qualify for her first Olympic Games in Tokyo, Stone entered the tournament as the reigning Senior World bronze medalist after a fifth-place finish in 2018.
This year, a twist of the draw meant that she would need to fence both of her teammates in order to advance to the medal rounds.
Exempt from pools on Wednesday, Stone her Worlds this year with Aleksandra Shelton (Tigard, Ore.) in the 64 – a four-time Olympian for Poland who was competing for the United States for the first time this season.
Stone led the bout at 7-3 in the first period, but Shelton took four straight to tie the bout at seven before Stone answered with the eighth to close the period at 8-7. She controlled the next period, outscoring her teammate, 7-2, to win the bout, 15-9.
In the 32, 2018 Senior World Team Champion Charlotte Lembach (FRA) led the bout, 5-4, when Stone scored four straight to end the period at 8-5. Lembach came within two at 12-10 before Stone took three straight for a 15-10 win.
The table of 16 would pit Stone against Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) in a rematch of their final at Pan Ams where Stone bested the two-time Olympic Champion, 15-14.
Zagunis came into the Senior World Championships needing to fence the pool rounds for one of the first times in her career, but posting the 5-1 result she would need to advance to the table of 64 in her first individual event at a Senior World Championships since 2015 due to the birth of her daughter, Sunday, in 2017.
Zagunis got off to a slow start in her bout against Iryna Shchukla (TUR), trailing at 8-7 at the break before going on an 8-1 tear in the second and winning the bout, 15-9.
In the table of 32, Zagunis fenced Liza Pusztai (HUN), an 18-year-old who has risen to No. 11 in the senior world rankings after two podium finishes on the circuit this spring. Although Pusztai took a 4-1 lead early, Zagunis outscored the Hungarian, 7-2, to close the first period at 8-6. In the second, Zagunis pulled ahead to 13-9 before Pusztai picked up three touches of her own. Building off her 13-12 lead, Zagunis scored two more for a 15-13 win.
Stone held an 8-6 lead after the first period of her table of 16 bout against Zagunis who went on to tie the bout at 10. Stone scored once more, but Zagunis took four straight to regain the lead at 14-11 with one touch to go. Stone was determined, however, and came back with four touches of her own to win the bout, 15-14.
In the quarter-finals, Bianca Pascu (ROU) held an 8-3 lead at the break which she pushed to 14-5 in the second period before Stone began mounting a seemingly impossible comeback. One by one, Stone scored eight straight touches before Pascu took the last touch and a 15-13 win.
Stone missed the podium, but earned her highest career world ranking for the end of the season at the end of the Olympic qualifying period where both she and Zagunis earned qualifying points for Team USA in 2020.
The men’s foil field was riddled with upsets on Saturday as the No. 1, 4, 5 and 8 seeds all fell in the opening round and two of the day’s four medalists stood on the Senior World podium not only for the first time in their careers, but still ended the season ranked outside the top 16 in the world.
Team USA had all four U.S. men’s foil fencers compete on the second day with two-time Olympic medalist Alex Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) advancing to the top 16.
Like all of his teammates, Massialas was exempt from the pool rounds on Wednesday due to his top 16 world ranking.
Massialas picked off Kyosuke Matsuyama (JPN) with little challenge in the first period, going on a 6-1 run and ending the period at 11-6. In the second, he took the four touches needed to end the bout at 15-9.
Massialas took on 2012 Olympic silver medalist Alaaeldin Abouelkassem (EGY) in the 32 and ended the first period with a tie at three. Up 9-8 in the second, Massialas scored six unanswered touches for a 15-9 victory.
In the 16, however, Michael Siess (POL) pulled away from a tie at nine with a 6-1 run at the end of the first to best Massialas, 15-10.
Rio Olympic team bronze medalist Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) entered the event as No. 2 in the world and a top candidate for the podium, but ended with a loss in the 32.
Imboden began his table of 64 bout with a 6-1 lead against Kevin Jerrold Chan (SGP) and went on to take the win at 15-6 in the first period.
It was Chun Yin Ryan Choi (HKG), however, who controlled the 32, claiming a 7-3 lead early in the bout. While Imboden cut the lead to 8-7, Choi ended with a 7-2 run and a 15-9 win.
Fencing at his first Senior World Championships, 2018 Junior World Champion Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.) drew Andras Nemeth (HUN) in the 64. With Nemeth holding a 9-7 lead in the second period, Itkin threw down eight of the next nine touches to win the bout, 15-10.
In the 32, Guilherme Toldo (BRA) led the bout which was a rematch of their quarter-final bout at the Pan American Championships which Toldo won, 15-14. Toldo led the bout again in Budapest, 13-8, in the second period. Itkin scored five straight for a tie at 13 before Toldo took another touch and the 14-13 lead. Itkin scored once more to tie the bout again, but it was the Brazilian who would close with another 15-14 victory.
Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), a Rio Olympic bronze medalist who is the only U.S. man to win two individual medals at the Senior Worlds, got down against Kwanghyun Lee (KOR) at 10-4 during the opening minute of their table of 64, but fought back with four straight touches. Lee pulled away, however, outscoring Meinhardt, 5-2, to end the bout, 15-11.
Saturday also marked the start of the team events with men’s saber and women’s epee both fencing their opening matches.
The U.S. Women’s Epee Team comes into the tournament as the reigning Senior World Champions and World No. 1 after a season that included gold at the Pan Ams as well as silver at the Dubai World Cup and bronze in Tallinn.
This year the team returned three members of its lineup in London Olympic team bronze medalists Kelley and Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and their Rio teammate Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
After a bye into the table of 32, Team USA’s four fencers combined to win eight of nine bouts against Vietnam for a 45-21 victory and Courtney Hurley posting a +10 indicator on the match
In the table of 16, Holmes and the Hurleys won each of nine bouts against Canada for a combined score of 45-25.
Following the win, Team USA will fence Italy in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Team USA’s men’s saber lineup included Rio Olympians Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) and Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) as well as London Olympian Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and first-time World Team member Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
All four fencers competed in the table of 32 against Kuwait with each posting a positive indicator in the 45-20 win as Dershwitz and Homer went +11 and +10, respectively.
Romania took an early lead against the Americans in the 16 which grew to 30-23 by the end of the sixth bout. Spear held the line at five touches each in the seventh against Florin Zalomir (ROU). Homer closed the gap to 40-35 after his bout against Alin Badea and Dershwitz scored six against three-time individual Senior World medalist Tiberiu Dolniceanu, but Team USA still dropped the match, 45-41.
Despite the loss, Team USA would need to rally for three more matches in the 9th – 16th place table.
Great Britain kept the opening match close, but the trio of Dershwitz, Homer and Thompson won or tied eight of nine bouts for a 45-40 win.
The same lineup returned in the next match where Japan pulled ahead briefly for a 35-34 win lead, but Dershwitz outscored Kenta Tokunan, 6-4, and Homer bested Kenta Yoshida, 5-4, for a 45-41 match victory.
In the match for ninth place, Team USA led France, 30-24, after the first six bouts, but Bolade Apithy got the best of Spear, taking the win. 11-3. Dershwitz lost the next bout to Vincent Anstett, 5-3 and Homer dropped the anchor bout to Tom Seitz, 5-2, as France won the match at 45-38.
The loss left the Americans with a 10th place overall finish.
Top eight and U.S. individual results are as follows:
Women’s Individual Saber Senior World Championships
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
3. Theofora Gkountoura (GRE)
3. Bianca Pascu (ROU)
5. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
6. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
7. Anna Marton (HUN)
8. Alina Komashchuk (UKR)
14. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
60. Aleksandra Shelton (Tigard, Ore.)
67. Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.)
Men’s Individual Foil Senior World Championships
1. Enzo Lefort (FRA)
2. Marcus Mepstead (GBR)
3. Young Ki Son (KOR)
3. Dmitry Zherebchenko (RUS)
5. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
6. Michal Siess (POL)
7. Chun Yin Ryan Choi (HKG)
8. Kwanghyun Lee (KOR)
10. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
17. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
20. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
35. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
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