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Lee Kiefer Earns Sixth Straight NAC Foil Title, Rob Rhea Tops Field of 255 in Epee

10/15/2012, 7:34am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(St. Louis, Mo.) – For 18-year-old Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.), a lot has changed since her last domestic competition nine months ago at the January North American Cup in Portland.

The top-ranked women’s foil fencer in the United States has gone from an “Olympic hopeful” to a fifth-place finisher in her debut at the London Games and has left her home state of Kentucky to start college as a premed major at Notre Dame – a school known both for its academics as well as being a perennial NCAA Championship title contender.

What hasn’t changed?

Kiefer’s position on the podium at domestic events.

Undefeated in the United States since July of last year, Sunday marked Kiefer’s sixth straight win at a domestic competition when she earned the Division I women’s foil gold medal at the October North American Cup at the America’s Center in St. Louis.

Tied for second after going undefeated in the pools, Kiefer earned a bye into the table of 64 where she defeated Bryce Koester (Colleyville, Texas), 15-2.

Kiefer’s subsequent bout was brief as well with a 15-3 win over Miranda Litzinger (Los Gatos, Calif.)

In the table of 16, Kiefer defeated Canadian junior Eleanor Harvey.

As one of three members of the London Team to advance to the quarter-finals, Kiefer fenced 2011 Junior World Champion Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the next round.

The two last fenced each other at the Junior World Championships in April and Kiefer walked away with the same score in this bout as well: 15-11.

In the semifinals, Kiefer defeated her 2012 Junior World teammate, Jacqueline Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.), 15-6.

Kiefer advanced to the semifinals against London Olympian Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) and fenced a conservative opening period. With the score tied at two touches each, Kiefer earned a third late in the final minute.

Willette kept the bout close in the second period as well as she held Kiefer to a one-touch (6-5) lead.

With the score tied at seven in the final period, however, Kiefer went on an unchallenged run, scoring eight straight touches to win the bout, 15-7.

“I’m glad I won, but it was a rough day. I’ve had a cold for the past week and I just finished midterms, so I haven’t been sleeping much. Doris is always a great fencer, though, so you have to be on your game and I was just happy I could step it up at the end of that one,” said Kiefer who noted that she will be staying in St. Louis to watch her younger brother, Axel Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) fence in the cadet event on Monday before returning to the classroom grind.

“I started at Notre Dame three days after I got back from London, so it was pretty crazy, but I did get to take a few weeks off from fencing before we started conditioning again and now it’s back to the NACs again,” she said.

It was the first NAC of the last season where 28-year-old Rob Rhea (Colorado Springs, Colo.) made his break-through with a silver medal win that would propel him onto both the World Cup circuit and a position on the 2012 Pan American Championship Team.

Since then, Rhea has relocated from San Francisco to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he trains full-time as a resident athlete in the program.

Although Rhea went undefeated in the Division I epee pools and earned a bye into the table of 128, he was nearly upset by junior Martin Ridge (Little Neck, N.Y.), but Rhea held on to take a 15-14 win.

Rhea won his next bout against Vincent Desjardins (CAN), 15-8, to advance to the table of32 where he defeated Justin Yoo (La Verne, Calif.), a bronze medalist in the cadet event on Friday, by a score of 15-6.

Rhea’s undefeated run ended in the table of 16, however, with a 15-12 loss to Teddy Sherrill (New York City, N.Y.)

As epee is the only weapon to hold a repechage at the NACs, Rhea still had an opportunity for a podium finish and kept himself in contention with 15-12 and 15-10 wins over 2012 Junior World Team member Garrett McGrath (Maricopa, Ariz.) and 2011 Junior World Team member Mike Raynis (Chatsworth, Calif.), respectively.

In the quarter-finals, Rhea defeated Marco Canevari (ITA), 15-11, and moved on to the gold medal bout after a 15-10 semifinal win against Jonathan Yergler (Princeton, N.J.)

Rhea quickly built a 5-2 lead in his gold medal bout against Adam Rodney (New York City, N.Y.), but Rodney came back to tie the bout at six. Both athletes scored doubles during the next two exchanges, but Romney picked up a single to take a 9-8 lead.

Over the next minute, however, Rhea had outscored Rodney, 2-1, to set the score at 11-9 going into the second period.

Rodney came back to tie the score at 13, but Rhea scored to more singles to win the bout, 15-13, in front of weekend’s loudest crowd as Rodney’s teammates and friends cheered him on.

After the medals ceremony, Rhea noted that he was pleased with the win and “thrived on” the pro-Rodney crowd.

In the cadet (U17) men’s saber event, 16-year-old Benjamin Lin (Beaverton, Ore.) followed his top-32 finish in the Division I competition on Friday with a gold medal win on Sunday after he edged Mikolaj Bak (Linden, N.J.) in the final bout, 15-14.

A 2010 Senior World Team member for his native Hong Kong, 18-year-old Howie Yo Yin Chan (HKG) won his first North American cup title in the Division II foil event when he defeated Samuel Goodman (Pittsford, N.Y.), 15-13.

In the women’s Division II saber event, 16-year-old Kacy Charpin (East Setaucket, N.Y.) won gold with a 15-8 victory over Tara Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) who was coming off a bronze medal cadet saber win on Saturday.

Competition continues at the America’s Center on Monday with the schedule as follows:

Monday, Oct. 15
8:30 a.m.
Division I Women’s Saber 
Cadet Men’s Foil
Cadet Women’s Epee

12:30 p.m.
Division II Men’s Saber

Visit for complete results of the October North American Cup.

Top eight results are as follows:

Division I Men’s Epee
1. Rob Rhea (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
2. Adam Rodney (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Jonathan Yergler (Princeton, N.J.)
3. Adam Watson (Richford, Vt.)
5. Ayyub Ibrahim (Bronx, N.Y.)
6. Kristian Boyadzhiev (BUL)
7. Marco Canevari (ITA)
8. Justin Dion (Fairfield, Conn.)

Division I Women’s Foil
1. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
2. Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
3. Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.)
3. Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.)
5. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
6. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
7. Kate Northrop (Bridgewater, N.J.)
8. Niki McKee (Valley Stream, N.Y.)

Cadet Men’s Saber
1. Benjamin Lin (Beaverton, Ore.)
2. Mikolaj Bak (Linden, N.J.)
3. Jeffrey Dalli (San Carlos, Calif.)
3. Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.)
5. David Cichocki (Chicago, Ill.)
6. Marcel Dolegiewicz (Park Ridge, Ill.)
7. Cameron Mackay (CAN)
8. Benjamin Natanzon (Manalapan, N.J.)

Division II Men’s Foil
1. Howie Yo Yin Chan (HKG)
2. Samuel Goodman (Pittsford, N.Y.)
3. Michael Hastings-Grgas (CAN)
3. Shuya Ishizuka (New York City, N.Y.)
5. Martin Rodriguez Jr. (South Houston, Texas)
6. Ari Lichy (San Jose, Calif.)
7. Daniel Gu (CAN)
8. Earnest Chen (Weston, Conn.)

Division II Women’s Saber
1. Kacy Charpin (East Setaucket, N.Y.)
2. Tara Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Elysia Wang (Plainsboro, N.J.)
3. Kyla Obillos (Irvine, Calif.)
5. Francesca Fedorovsky (San Clemente, Calif.)
6. Cynthia Bunting (Atlanta, Ga.)
7. Catherine Hua (Minneapolis, Minn.)
8. Hanna Dougherty (Laguna Niguel, Calif.)

Tag(s): News  Lee Kiefer