(St. Louis, Mo.) – A lot of things change as one Olympic quad ends and another begins. Athletes retire. Up-and-comers stake their claim. Decisions are made as to whether to return for another medal, another title, another attempt at a team.
For 27-year-old Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.), his gold medal win in Division I men’s saber at the October North American Cup in St. Louis on Friday may have been the beginning of another four-year quest for an Olympic berth.
“I think it’s a little too early to say for sure, but that’s definitely in my horizon. Four years is a long time, so I don’t want to say 100%, but I would go as far as to say 85% or 90%,” said Igoe who was one of more than 2,000 fencers competing at the America’s Center this weekend.
The three-time Senior World Team member and 2011 Pan American Games Team Champion I men’s saber fell just short of qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Team and came into the event ranked fourth in the United States in Division I men’s saber.
Igoe went undefeated in his pool to earn the top seed in the direct elimination tables. After a bye into the table of 64, Igoe won his first DE bout against Isaac Buchwald (San Carlos), 15-10, and defeated Sean Moran (Beaverton, Ore.), 15-5, in the table of 32.
At the end of a close bout with Maxwell Stearns (Minneapolis, Minn.), Igoe took the win, 15-13, to advance to the quarter-finals.
Igoe’s quarter-final pitted him against Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.) – a 2008 Olympic team silver medalist who finished eighth in the individual event in London. Although, at 34-years-old, Morehouse flirted with retirement after London, he says he is now “playing it by ear” in the new season.
Igoe controlled the match to earn a 15-9 victory and a trip to the medal rounds.
In the semifinals, Igoe would fence 2012 Junior World silver medalist Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
While Igoe kept the bout close, Dershwitz built a 14-12 lead in the second period. Igoe came back, however, to score three straight touches and take the win, 15-12.
“My plan the whole time was to be aggressive, but, even when it was close, I already that I wanted to put pressure on him in the middle,” Igoe said. “So the whole time I was attacking, attacking, attacking and at the end I decided to switch it up and went for a parry, taking a chance and it worked out. It helps if you have an idea of what you’re going to do at the end and then you won’t second guess yourself.”
Fencing for gold, Igoe built an 8-4 lead against Shaul Gordon (CAN) which he held onto to win the bout, 15-12.
“I fenced Shaul maybe two years ago when he was much younger, but he’s definitely improved. I just wanted to be aggressive and didn’t want to change much up,” Igoe said.
The win was Igoe’s first individual gold medal win in seven years.
“It’s been awhile. Last time I was there, but I think it’s been since 2005. Lots of thirds, lots of seconds, some top eights, so it feels good to win gold,” Igoe said.
While Igoe will return to the strip for the November NAC in Virginia Beach, he also has a new focus for the near future as he and his wife, Alexis Jemal are preparing to become parents to a baby girl in March.
“We’re really excited, but my wife is also a former fencer so I’m sure the pressure is going to be on for our little girl to be a fencer as well, but we’ll see. I don’t know if she’s gonna like it or not, but I’ll probably expose her and see what she thinks,” Igoe said.
Two cadet (U17) events also were held on Friday.
The cadet women’s foil final included two of the top candidates for the 2013 Cadet World Championship Team – Kaila Budofsky (New York City, N.Y.) and Kate Northrop (Bridgewater, N.J.)
Ranked third and fourth in the country, respectively, at the start of the day, Budofsky and Northrop are each aiming to earn one of three positions on the Cadet World Team that will be selected in February.
Northrop came out to a 2-0 lead, but Northrop came back to tie the score at three touches with two seconds left in the first period.
In the second period, the girls exchanged touches, but it was Northrop who held a 7-6 lead at the break.
With the bout tied at nine in the final period, Budofsky gave up just one more touch as she outscored Northrop, 6-1, to win the gold by a score of 15-10.
In the cadet men’s epee event, 16-year-old Jake Raynis (Chatsworth, Calif.) is looking to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Michael who fenced on two Junior and a Cadet World Championship Team.
Ranked third in the nation coming into the NAC, Raynis advanced to the gold medal final against 16-year-old Harrison MacRae (Chicago, Ill.) who was fencing in his first NAC medal round.
MacRae built a 7-5 lead by the end of the first period, but Raynis tied the bout at 11 late in the second. The two scored double touches during the next exchange, but Raynis picked up a critical single touch to take the score to 13-12. After another double touch, Raynis ended the second period with a 14-13 lead.
Less than 10 seconds into the third period, Raynis won the bout and the gold medal on a double touch, 15-14.
In the day’s only Division II event, 16-year-old epee fencer Isabella Peceli (Sacramento, Calif.) earned her first NAC title when she defeated 16-year-old Cassandra Bates (Waltham, Mass.), 15-10, in the final match.
Competition continues on Saturday at the NAC with the schedule as follows (Note: All events will be run to completion. Times below are approximate start times, not check-in times):
Saturday, Oct. 13
Division I Men’s Foil
Division I Women’s Epee
Cadet Women’s Saber
Division II Men’s Epee
Division II Women’s Foil
Complete results can be found at www.usfencingresults.com.
Top eight results are as follows:
Division I Men’s Saber
1. Benjamin Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.)
2. Shaul Gordon (CAN)
3. Michael Josephs (Chevy Chase, Md.)
3. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
5. Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
6. Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)
7. Sean Buckley (Secaucus, N.J.)
8. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)
Cadet Men’s Epee
1. Jake Raynis (Chatsworth, Calif.)
2. Harrison MacRae (Chicago, Ill.)
3. Porter Hesslegrave (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Justin Yoo (La Verne, Calif.)
5. Matthias Philippine (Oakland, Calif.)
6. Noah Adamitis (Kirkville, N.Y.)
7. Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas)
8. Samuel Koch (San Francisco, Calif.)
Cadet Women’s Foil
1. Kaila Budofsky (New York City, N.Y.)
2. Kate Northrop (Bridgewater, N.J.)
3. Tanya Nelson (CAN)
3. Sabrina Elkassas (EGY)
5. Kennedy Lovelace (Frisco, Texas)
6. Rebecca Stanford (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
7. Luby Kiriakidi (Rochester, N.Y.)
8. Liana Semel (Carmel, N.Y.)
Division II Women’s Epee
1. Isabella Peceli (Sacramento, Calif.)
2. Cassandra Bates (Waltham, Mass.)
3. Camille Esnault (Cupertino, Calif.)
3. Katie Van Riper (Marietta, Ga.)
5. Emma Von Dadelszen (CAN)
6. Amy Zhao (Cambridge, Mass.)
7. Kenya Plenty (New York City, N.Y.)
8. Zoe Granizo-Mackenzie (Norwich, Vt.)