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Mariel Zagunis Takes Top-16 Finish in Salt Lake City

12/15/2019, 12:30am CST
By Kristen Henneman

Mariel Zagunis continued her bid for a fifth straight Olympic Team with a fop-16 result in Salt Lake City. Photo Credit: Devin Manky / #BizziTeam

Women's individual medalists (L-R): Jiarui Qian (CHN), Olga Kharlan (UKR) Manon Brunet (FRA) and Jiyeon Seo (KOR). Photo Credit: Devin Manky / #BizziTeam

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – On home turf in Salt Lake City, two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) earned a top-16 result at the Absolute Fencing Gear Women’s Sabre World Cup.

The 13th-place finish marks her best at a World Cup since Orleans in November of 2018.

“Overall I think I fenced pretty well today,” Zagunis said. “I don’t think that my score in the last bout reflected how I was feeling about my fencing today. I was happy about getting a top 16. It’s my best result in a while, so of course I wanted to do better today, but I had to run into [Olga] Kharlan pretty early and she’s a strong fencer. So, I did my best.”

2019 Absolute Fencing Gear Women’s Sabre World Cup Results

Zagunis started off her day with a 15-13 victory over two-time Senior World team medalist Jisu Yoon (KOR), taking the final two points to advance to the table of 32, where she faced Yoon’s teammate and two-time World team medalist Sooyeon Choi (KOR).

Tied at five, Zagunis scored 10 straight touches to close the bout in a dominant 15-5 effort.

“All of my opponents today were really strong and really fast, the Koreans especially,” Zagunis said. “I knew I had to be ready and be sharp and so I didn’t want to give up any ground after executing my plan pretty well against Choi.”

However, Zagunis faced No. 1 ranked Olga Kharlan (UKR) in the table of 16. Despite keeping the bout close early, Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medalist, ended the first period on a 5-1 run and scored the first five touches of the second period, going on to win, 15-9.

“[Kharlan is] a very aggressive fencer. She’s very creative and so I think that I had the right idea, but I didn’t quite execute what I needed to do,” Zagunis said. “She’s also somebody who creates a lot of actions, so the bout just got away from me a little quickly and I should’ve slowed things down in retrospect. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, but she’s a strong opponent and I have to try to learn from this defeat and come back and get ready to face her the next time.”

Kharlan went on to take the gold, her fourth medal on the circuit in the United States, but first since 2014. Four-time Senior World Team member Jiarui Qian (CHN) earned the silver while 2016 Olympian Manon Brunet (FRA) and 2017 World Championship silver medalist in the team event Jiyeon Seo (KOR) claimed bronze.

2018 Senior World bronze medalist Eliza Stone (Chicago, Il.) and 2019 Junior World Team member Nora Burke (New York, N.Y.) each secured top-32 finishes.

Stone took an early 8-4 lead in her table of 64 bout against three-time World team member Hengyu Yang (CHN) and went on to win, 15-10.

In the table of 32, though, Stone fell behind early to 2016 Olympic team silver medalist Alina Komashchuk (UKR), facing an 8-3 deficit at the break. Stone closed the gap to one at 14-13, but Komashchuk took the final touch for a 15-13 victory.

Burke’s top-32 finish is the second of her career at the start of her third season on the senior World Cup circuit.

In the table of 64 against three-time Senior World team member Yaqi Shao (CHN), Burke jumped out to an 8-5 advantage. Shao cut the lead to one at 12-11, but Burke kept her composure and won, 15-13.

Burke also took an early lead in her table of 32 bout against Seo, going up 10-7, but Seo scored six consecutive touches for a 13-10 lead and Burke came up short, 15-13.

Three members of Team USA finished in the top 64 in Maia Chamberlain (Menlo Park, Calif.), Liz Tartakovsky (Livingston, N.J.) and Leanne Singleton-Comfort (Marysville, Calif.)

Chamberlain drew 2019 Senior World bronze medalist Theodora Gkountoura (GRE) to start Day 2. Down 8-6 at the break, Gkountoura earned the first two points of the second and went on to win, 15-10.

Fencing Kharlan, two-time Junior World team medalist Tartakovsky came from behind to face a one-point deficit at 10-9. However, Kharlan ended the bout with five straight touches for a 15-10 victory.

Singleton-Comfort got off to a strong start against No. 2 and two-time Olympic silver medalist Sofya Velikaya (RUS), taking an 8-6 lead at the break. Tied at 11, Velikaya finished on a 4-1 run end Singleton-Comfort’s day.

Competition resumes on Sunday with the team event where 2019 Senior World team members Zagunis, Stone, Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.) and Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) will represent Team USA.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Absolute Fencing Gear Individual Women’s Sabre World Cup

1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Jiarui Qian (CHN)
3. Manon Brunet (FRA)
3. Jiyeon Seo (KOR)
5. Misaki Emura (JPN)
6. Alina Komashchuk (UKR)
7. Anna Limbach (GER)
8. Sarah Noutcha (FRA)

13. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
17. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Il.)
32. Nora Burke (New York, N.Y.)
55. Maia Chamberlain (Menlo Park, Calif.)
63. Liz Tartakovsky (Livingston, N.J.)
64. Leanne Singleton-Comfort (Marysville, Calif.)

68. Aleksandra Shelton (Tigard, Ore.)
85. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
88. Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
89. Daniella Timofeyev (Antelope, Calif.)
93. Joy Yun (Portland, Ore.)
105. Honor Johnson (Bethesda, Md.)
106. Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.)
107. Siobhan Sullivan (Tigard, Ore.)
108. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
109. Tori Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)
113. Chloe Gouhin (Blacklick, Ohio)
115. Magda Skarbonkiewicz (Portland, Ore.)
117. Atara Greenbaum (Boca Raton, Fla.)
122. Sky Miller (Durham, N.C.)

143. Megan Liang (San Diego, Calif.)
143. Alexis Anglade (Alpharetta, Ga.)
146. Vivian Lu (Foster City, Calif.)
153. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
157. Aleksandra Strzalkowski (Littleton, Colo.)
158. Nithya Guthikonda (Peachtree City, Ga.)
170. Anna Li (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
182. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)

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