Rio Olympic silver medalist Daryl Homer will headline the field in Fort Worth. Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Fencers from around the nation, including Olympic hopefuls and youth fencers, will compete at a national event for the first time in over a year this weekend at the April North American Cup in Fort Worth, Texas.
Competition will be held in the Division I, Y14, Y12 and Y10 events beginning on Friday and continuing through Monday at the Forth Worth Convention Center.
Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, entrance into the tournament is limited to event participants only with each athlete allowed one additional credential.
Competition schedule is as follows:
Friday, April 16
All Y14 Events
Saturday, April 17
Division I Men’s Events
Y12 Women’s Events
Sunday, April 18
Division I Women’s Events
Y12 Men’s Events
Monday, April 19
All Y10 Events
Although the Division I competition is not a qualifier for the Tokyo Olympic Games, many of Team USA’s qualifiers and hopefuls will be competing in Fort Worth in preparation for the next Olympic qualifier at the May NAC in Richmond as well as the Games in July. The following is a preview of the action this weekend:
With Rio Olympian Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y. / Peter Westbrook Foundation) as the event’s top seed, the men’s saber field features a lineup of athletes looking to join Homer in Tokyo. As Homer and his Rio Olympic teammate Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass. / Zeta Fencing) are the only U.S. fencers to have secured berths to Tokyo for men’s saber, the remaining individual slot as well as the team replacement athlete remain open with several of the top contenders scheduled to fence the May NAC. The April NAC will give each of these fencers one last chance to potentially face off against each other before the final domestic qualification points are on the line next month. Ranked No. 4 in the nation, 2019 Senior World Team member Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J. / Peter Westbrook Foundation) is seeking to retain his position in the National Team Point Standings while former Junior World Team members Grant Williams (Atlanta, Ga. / Durkan Fencing Academy) and Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y. / Tim Morehouse Fencing Club) sit less than 200 points back from Thompson. The field also is highlighted by several Junior and Cadet World medalists, including Colby Harley (Alpharetta, Ga. / Nellya Fencers) who won bronze at the Cadet Worlds in Cairo as well as two-time Junior World medalist Mitchell Saron (Ridgewood, N.J. / Bergen Fencing / Harvard) and 2018 Cadet World silver medalist Robert Vidovzsky (Premier Fencing Academy / Columbia).
The women’s saber field also has two of the four qualifying slots locked up with two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore. / Oregon Fencing Alliance) and 2018 Senior World bronze medalist Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill. / Bergen Fencing) each securing berths to Tokyo. Stone is scheduled to compete this weekend in a lineup that includes more than a dozen Olympians and former Senior, Junior and Cadet World Team members. Ranked No. 3 in the nation, 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist Dagmara Wozniak (Jersey City, N.J. / Manhattan Fencing Center) withdrew from the Budapest World Cup last month and will be returning to competition for the first time in over a year. The No. 4 and 5 positions are held by 2013 Junior World Team Champion Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J. / Bergen Fencing) and 2019 Senior World Team member Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J. / Peter Westbrook Foundation) with Russo moving past Thompson after a top-32 finish in Budapest. Other former Senior National Team members competing in Fort Worth include 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist Monica Aksamit (Morganville, N.J. / Manhattan Fencing Center), 2019 Senior World Team member Aleksandra Shelton (Tigard, Ore. / Oregon Fencing Alliance) and two-time Senior World Team member Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore. / Oregon Fencing Alliance).
The lineup in Fort Worth includes a collection of Senior and Junior World Team members – some of whom are returning to their first tournament in a year with others having reentered competition at the Kazan World Cup, the Junior World Championships or the NCAA Championships. Alen Hadzic (West Orange, N.J. / Fencers Club) will enter as the top seed in the field and will use this competition as a warmup event for the May NAC in Richmond where the replacement athlete for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Epee Team will be determined. A three-time gold medalist on the NAC circuit, Hadzic’s last podium finish came as a bronze medal at the 2019 Division I National Championships. Among his competitors for a position in Tokyo will be four past Senior World Team members. James Kaull (Brooklyn, N.Y. / New York Athletic Club), who competed on the 2019 Senior World Team, advanced to the NAC finals three times between 2017 and 2018 and competed with Hadzic at the Kazan World Cup last month. Cooper Schumacher (Forest Hills, N.J. / Fencers Club) made his Senior World Championships debut in 2017 – the same year he won gold for St. John’s at the NCAA Championships. Dennis Kraft (Bloomfield, N.J. / Ligonier Fencing Club) qualified for the 2018 Senior World Championships with a gold medal win at the Div I Nationals that year as well. Ari Simmons (Bellaire, Texas / Alliance Fencing Academy / Notre Dame) made his Senior World debut in 2015 – just two years after winning gold at the Cadet Worlds. Two members of the squad that won silver at this year’s Junior World Championships also are slated to compete in Forth Worth – Valentin Matveev (Las Vegas, Nev. / Battle Born Fencing Club / Notre Dame) and Mihir Kumashi (Houston, Texas / Alliance Fencing Academy).
The top two seeds in this event have combined for five top-four finishes on the NAC circuit during the last two seasons. A 2019 Senior World Team member Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif. / Los Angeles International Fencing Center) holds No. 1 seed going into the tournament with 2014 Division I National Champion Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (Oconomowoc, Wis. / Ataba Fencing Club) coming in as the No. 2 seed. Both Nixon and Guzzi Vincenti competed at the Kazan World Cup in Russia last month where each finished in the top 32. Three members of the Junior World Team also are scheduled to compete in Fort Worth, including individual silver medalist Jessica Lin (Basking Ridge, N.J. / Medeo Fencing Club) and teammates Michaela Joyce (Sterling, Va. / Cardinal Fencing Academy) and Hadley Husisian (Oakton, Va. / Fencing Sports Academy)
Top seeded Adam Mathieu (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Fencers Club) has earned a top-four finish at five of the last six national tournaments and is coming off a top-64 finish at the Doha Grand Prix. Two members of the Junior World Team squad that won silver in Cairo also are expected to fence in Forth Worth. Marcello Olivares (Cooper City, Fla. / Bluegrass Fencers’ Club / Notre Dame) won both individual and team NCAA titles with Notre Dame in March before his silver medal finish in Cairo. Daniel Zhang (Belmont, Mass. / Star Fencing Academy) won gold at the Cadet Worlds and returned for silver in the team event. Zhang made a name for himself on the Div I circuit in 2019 when he won gold at the July Challenge at just 14 years old. Sixteen-year-old Chase Emmer (Morristown, N.J. / V Fencing Club) also is coming off a podium finish in Cairo where he took third. Emmer’s last national tournament was the 2020 January NAC where he took a bronze in Division I.
The 2017 Junior World individual silver medalist, Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Peter Westbrook Foundation) comes in as the top seed with top-eight finishes at five of the last six national events to her credit. Blow is one of six Junior and Cadet World medalists to highlight the event. Zander Rhodes (South Orange, N.J. / V Fencing Club) won silver in the team event at the Junior Worlds last week and placed second and third at the last two Division I NACs before the shutdown. Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y. / Fencers Club / Columbia), the 2016 Cadet World Champion, has won silver or bronze at five of the last six national tournaments. Stefani Deschner (Mechanicsville, Va. / Bluegrass Fencers’ Club / Notre Dame), a 2016 Cadet World bronze medalist, won the NCAAs last month and is looking to break through to the NAC podium after top-eight finishes on the Division I circuit twice in 2018-19. A 2017 Cadet World medalist, Natalie Minarik (Glen Oaks, N.Y. / East Coast Fencing Club / Columbia) holds two top-eight finishes on the Div I circuit. Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y. / New York Athletic Club) won the 2015 Junior World title and holds 13 top-eight Div I finishes, but took a break from competition for two years before returning prior to the truncation of the 2019-20 season.
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