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April 2023 NAC, Day 1: Imrek Becomes Second Youngest to Win Epee Title

04/21/2023, 8:30pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

At 17 years and 8 months old, Samuel Imrek becomes the second youngest Division I Men’s Epee national champion in the 135-year history of the event.

ST. LOUIS, MO. — Nobody starts their fencing career with the goal of becoming one of the youngest to ever win a national championship.

But in the case of Samuel Imrek (Alliance Fencing Academy), that’s just the trajectory his career has been on. The 2022 Cadet Men’s Epee National Champion, 2022 Cadet Men’s Epee World Champion and 2022 Junior Men’s Epee National Champion faced perhaps his toughest test yet on Friday at the 2023 Division I National Championships & April North American Cup in St. Louis.

Battling against 187 of the best men’s epee fencers in the country, including some more than twice his age, Imrek emerged with the 2023 Division I Men’s Epee national championship — the first of his career.

At just 17 years, 8 months and 4 days old, Imrek becomes the second youngest national champion since this event was first contested in 1888. Only Jack Bradford was younger — at 17 years, 6 months and 17 days old when he won the title in 2016 in Richmond, Va.

“It sounds really great to hear,” Imrek says of the “national champion” moniker. “It's been a long, tough day of fencing. So it's very rewarding.”

Imrek says the path from juniors to seniors has been tough, but he hasn’t traveled it alone.

“I have really good coaches that work with me. I have really great teammates that push me,” he says. “You’ve just got to do everything — analyze the videos, work hard and be ready.”

In the finals, Imrek faced 2014 Men’s Epee national champion Yeisser Ramirez OLY (Peter Westbrook Foundation / Fencers Club Inc.). It was a rematch of the Division I finals at the December 2022 North American Cup in Salt Lake City. Imrek won that one, too.

Facing a familiar opponent, Imrek says, is the ultimate game of cat and mouse. Your opponent will try to adjust their game to defeat you, but you’ll adjust yours to try to stay a step ahead.

“He definitely studied the video, and so did I,” Imrek says. “I didn't know exactly what he was gonna do, but I knew he wouldn't do the same thing as he did before.”

In the day’s other Division I final, Grant Williams (New York Athletic Club) emerged as the Men’s Saber national champion. For Williams, it was his first individual senior national title (he previous won a team national championship) — a welcome sight after a string of bronze-medal finishes at NACs.

“Getting over the hump felt great,” Williams says. “I switched clubs at the beginning of the season. It's been a good experience so far. I can give a lot of credit to Sara [Vicenzin], my coach.”

Williams, 26, has advice for younger fencers who dream of some day holding up a trophy as national champion.

“Stick with fencing,” he says. “Believe in yourself. Try to have fun with it. And if you really love the sport, continue with it after college. Don't give up — try to make it work.”

About the Trophies

Men’s Epee: William Scott O'Connor Trophy

One of the founding fathers of the Amateur Fencers' League of America, he was the first AFLA National Foil Champion in 1892 and was the 1905 National Epee (then called dueling swords) champion. He was a member of the 1904 Olympic Team in the Games in St. Louis and won the Olympic Silver Medal in the single sticks event.

Men’s Saber: Graeme Hammond Trophy

Graeme Hammond was a competitive fencer who helped to found and was the first president of the Amateur Fencers League of America serving from 1891 to 1925 (34 years), and served as president emeritus of the American Olympic Association. He was captain of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1928 and was five times U.S. National Champion.

Full Day 1 Results

Division I Men's Epee

Gold and National Champion: Samuel Imrek (Alliance Fencing Academy)

Silver: Yeisser Ramirez OLY (Peter Westbrook Foundation / Fencers Club Inc.)

Bronze: Nicholas Lawson (Fencers Club Inc. / Princeton University)

Bronze: Mihir Kumashi (Alliance Fencing Academy)

5th: Curtis McDowald OLY (Peter Westbrook Foundation / Fencers Club Inc.)

6th: Ethan Kushnerik (New York Athletic Club / New York Fencing Academy)

7th: Jeffrey Miller (South Denver Fencing Academy)

8th: Matthew Trager (New York Athletic Club)


Division I Men's Saber

Gold and National Champion: Grant Williams (New York Athletic Club)

Silver: Josef Cohen (Peter Westbrook Foundation / Fencers Club Inc.)

Bronze: Colin Heathcock (Manhattan Fencing Center)

Bronze: Antonio Heathcock (Manhattan Fencing Center)

5th: Gabriel Armijo (Peter Westbrook Foundation)

6th: Andrew Mackiewicz OLY (New York Athletic Club / Zeta Fencing)

6th: Filip Dolegiewicz (Midwest Fencing Club)

8th: Tony Escueta (Boston Fencing Club / Globus Fencing Academy)


Junior Women's Epee

Gold: Fan Wu (Canada)

Silver: Sarah Gu (Medeo Fencing Club)

Bronze: Ruien Xiao (Canada)

Bronze: Varvara Bezuglaya (Swords Fencing Studio / TeamK Fencing)

5th: Yasmine Khamis (Alliance Fencing Academy)

6th: Isabella Chin (New York Fencing Academy)

7th: Tierna Oxenreider (Columbia University)

8th: Leehi Machulsky (Academy Of Fencing Masters)


Junior Women's Saber

Gold: Gabriela Hwang (Phoenix Fencing Academy)

Silver: Irene Jung (Premier Fencing Academy LLC)

Bronze: Cathleen Shi (Capital Fencing Academy)

Bronze: Grace Ker (Cardinal Fencing Club)

5th: Jenna Shoman (Manhattan Fencing Center)

6th: Janna Freedman (South Bay Fencing Academy)

7th: Nisha Hild (Zeta Fencing)

8th: Natalie Shearer (Laguna Fencing Center)



Vet 40 Women’s Foil

Gold: Inga Cho (Renaissance Fencing Club)

Silver: Rachel Fedde (Brooklyn Fencing Center)

Bronze: Kathryn Pierrynowski (Research Triangle Fencing)

Bronze: Lacey Maddox (Charlotte Fencing Academy)

5th: Velyn Wu (Invictus Fencing / University Of Florida Fencing Club)

6th: Selina Kaing (California Fencing Academy)

7th: Kundry Haberkern (Salle Auriol Seattle)

8th: Polina McGrath (Renaissance Fencing Club)


Vet 50 Women’s Foil

Gold: Julie Seal (Valkyrie Fencing Club)

Silver: Jane Carter (Marx Fencing Academy / Tanner City Fencers Club)

Bronze: Celine De La Foscade-Condon (Moe Fencing Club LLC)

Bronze: Ann Totemeier (Northern Colorado Fencers / Denver Fencing Center)

5th: Bonnie Hennig-Trestman (Research Triangle Fencing / Connecticut Fencers Club)

6th: Lesley Chapman (Ludus Fencing Studio)

7th: Judith Bassik (Profencing)

8th: Luisa Sanchez Del Valle (Fencers Club Inc.)


Vet 60 Women’s Foil

Gold: Georgina Love (Central Florida)

Silver: Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Connecticut Fencers Club)

Bronze: Elizabeth Merritt (Rockville Fencing Academy)

Bronze: Anne-Marie Walters (Masters Fencing Club)

5th: Nora Gutkovskaya (Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy)

6th: Kathleen Hermes (Fencers School Of Connecticut)

7th: Pamella Guntrum (Salle Auriol Seattle)

8th: Harriet Eckstein (Presidio Fencing Club)


Vet 70 Women's Foil

Gold: Judith Offerle (RedStar Fencing Club Chicago)

Silver: Deborah Theriault (Pittsburgh Fencers Club)

Bronze: Muriel Cawthorn (Rhode Island Fencing Academy And Club)

Bronze: Madelon Rosenfeld (Tim Morehouse Fencing Club / Fencers Club Inc.)

5th: Patricia Lutton (Denver Fencing Center)

6th: Gemin Channing (Rockville Fencing Academy / Nazlymov Fencing Foundation)

7th: Patricia Bedrosian (Salle Couturier)

8th: Joanne Stevens (Fencers Club Inc.)


Vet 80 Women’s Foil

Gold: Patricia Bedrosian (Salle Couturier)

Silver: Bettie Graham (Chevy Chase Fencing Club)


Vet 40 Men’s Foil

Gold: Dong-Ying Pai (Twin Cities Fencing Club)

Silver: Julian Tang (Canada)

Bronze: Zhiyong Zhao (Bluegrass Fencers' Club / Queen City Fencers Club LLC)

Bronze: Stephen Pashby (Forge Fencing Teams)

5th: John Tomasi (Rockville Fencing Academy)

6th: Jason Brown (Ludus Fencing Studio)

7th: Jesse Mones (Lotus Fencing Academy)

8th: Eli McGinty (Southwest Florida Fencing Academy / Bay Area Fencing Club)


Vet 50 Men’s Foil

Gold: Frets Olivares (Fencers Club Inc.)

Silver: Marek Wyszynski (Fencers Club Inc.)

Bronze: Michael Cho (Renaissance Fencing Club)

Bronze: Rafael Suarez (Masters Fencing Club)

5th: Nathan Anderson (Denver Fencing Center)

6th: Leo Popokh (Fencing Institute Of Texas)

7th: Oliver Foellmer (LA International Fencing)

8th: Andrey Tyshchenko (Australia)


Vet 60 Men’s Foil

Gold: Jamie Douraghy (LA International Fencing)

Silver: Paul Epplay-Schmidt (Bucks County Academy Of Fencing / Sebastiani Fencing Academy)

Bronze: Edward Kaihatsu (RedStar Fencing Club Chicago / Athletic Training Fencing)

Bronze: John Lawrence (New Jersey)

5th: Eric Dew (Halberstadt Fencers' Club)

6th: Gary Hayenga (Plymouth/Ann Arbor Fencing Academy / Ann Arbor Dueling Society)

7th: Nestor Grajales (Stoccata Fencing Academy & Club)

8th: Henri Darricau (Denver Fencing Center)


Vet 70 Men’s Foil

Gold: Joseph Streb (Columbus International Fencing Academy / Royal Arts Fencing Academy)

Silver: Frank Thomiszer (Bluegrass Fencers' Club)

Bronze: Joseph Biebel (Arizona)

Bronze: Tony Carter (Olympian Fencing Club)

5th: Jan Patterson (Salle Auriol Seattle)

6th: Malcolm Patterson (Rockville Fencing Academy)

7th: Thomas Lutton (Denver Fencing Center / LE CLUB TOUCHE)

8th: Heik Hambarzumian (Gryphon Fencing)

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Tag(s): Updates  April 2023 NAC