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Mariel Zagunis Wins Seventh Straight Individual Medal at the Korfanty Cup in Chicago

06/24/2012, 4:52am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

After a silver medal win at the Korfanty Cup in Chicago on Saturday, two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) will enter the Olympic Games as the top seed in London.

(Chicago, Ill.) – After a silver medal win at the Korfanty Cup in Chicago on Saturday, two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) will enter the Olympic Games as the top seed in London.

The win was the seventh straight individual podium finish for the saber fencer this season.

As the top seed in the tournament, Zagunis had little trouble with either of her first two opponents as she defeated junior Allison Lee (Saddle River, N.J.), 15-3, and Olga Zhovnir (UKR), 15-7.

Fencing fans crowded around Zagunis’s strip at the Navy Pier event for every bout and Zagunis took time to sign autographs and take pictures with the youngsters throughout the day – most of whom had never seen their idol fence.

In the table of 16, Zagunis had a close bout with Shan Liu (CHN), but took the win, 15-12.

Zagunis fenced Liu’s countrywoman, Fei Li, in the quarters and safely advanced to the semifinals with a 15-8 victory.

In the evening semifinal, Zagunis faced Min Zhu (CHN) – a top-eight finisher at the 2011 Senior Worlds who split her bouts with Mariel, 1-1, last season. Zhu held an 8-7 lead at the half, but Zagunis kept the score within a touch in the second half. Zagunis went on to tie Zhu at 12 and take the bout, 15-13.

The gold medal final featured the bout fans were waiting for all day – Zagunis vs. Olga Kharlan (UKR).

The bout would be the third of the season between the #1 and #3 fencers in the world and Kharlan entered the bout with confidence after a 15-5 semifinal win over Irene Vecchi (ITA).

The two exchanged touches in the first period and Kharlan, who lost to Zagunis in the finals of both the 2009 and 2010 Senior Worlds, had an 8-7 lead at the break.

In the second half, however, Kharlan scored five straight touches to bring the bout to 13-7. Still fighting, Zagunis scored three in a row, but Kharlan closed out the bout, 15-13.

“Overall, I fenced really well and, this seems to be a repeating theme, but I always fence really well until the bout that I lost,” Zagunis said. “I was happy with all of my other bouts except the one with Kharlan today, but it’s a good indication of what I need to work on for the next month leading into London. I’m taking this away as a learning experience and just gonna learn from my mistakes and make sure in London it’s a different outcome.”

The final World Cup of the season had special meaning for Zagunis as it was recently named the Korfanty Cup in honor of Ed Korfanty (Portland, Ore.) – Zagunis’s personal coach who has been by her side for two Olympic and four Senior World Championship titles.

The Korfanty Cup is sponsored in part by The Mariel Zagunis Women’s Sabre Fund and a group of Chicago Area businesses and organizations affiliated with the local Polish-American Community including the Polish National Alliance, Korfanty Sports Foundation, Doors for Builders Inc., Slava Tenenbaum Law Offices, Advanced Cabinets Corp. and B&M Auto Collision Center.

“It’s the first annual Korfanty Cup and it’s a big honor for Ed and something that is well deserved for him. He’s very humble and he would never go after people naming a World Cup after him. I think this is going to be the first of many successful Korfanty Cups and I’m glad that I was able to come here and represent him well today,” Zagunis said. “I’ve known him since I was 10 years old and he’s watched me grow up and has taught me everything I know about fencing. Fencing is a huge part of my life and it’s really made me the type of person that I am today. I think all of those values that he’s helped instill in me have really helped make me who I am. I love my life and all of the success we’ve had together and it’s been a really fun journey we’ve had together.

Ibtihaj Muhammad (Avenel, N.J.) entered the tournament as the 13th seed and the number held true as she placed 11th overall.

In the table of 64, Muhammad looked unstoppable as she took an 8-2 lead in the first half against two-time Olympian Alejandra Benitez (VEN) and went on to with the bout, 15-3.

Muhammad won the next bout, 15-10, over Alexandra Shatalova (RUS).

In the table of 16, Muhammad met Azza Besbes (TUN) – the fourth seed in the tournament who finished in the top eight as a 17-year-old in Beijing. Besbes won the bout, but withdrew from the quarter-finals with an injury after trailing Zhu, 10-2.  

Ranked eighth in the world and seeded fourth at the Korfanty Cup, London Olympic nominee Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) was a favorite to win her fifth career World Cup medal and she opened with a 15-5 victory over Aziza Hassan (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the table of 64. In the table of 32, however, Wozniak tied up her bout against Seira Nakayama (JPN), but lost, 15-14, when Nakayama scored the final touch. Wozniak finished 17th overall.

Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) won bronze at the 2011 and 2012 Senior Worlds with Zagunis, Muhammad and Wozniak. After edging Katarzyna Kedziora (POL), 15-14, Schneider built a 8-6 lead over Rossella Gregorio (ITA) at the half, but Gregorio came back to win the bout, 15-14, and Schneider finished in 25th place.

Sixteen-year-old Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.) finished 32nd – the best result at a Senior World Cup ever for the 2012 Cadet World medalist.

The 51st seed in the table of 64, Powers drew Sabina Mikina (AZE) – a top-eight finisher at the 2011 Senior Worlds.

Powers controlled the bout well as she built a 12-11 lead. She gave up just one more touch to win the bout, 15-12.

Powers will join Zagunis, Wozniak and Muhammad in the team event on Sunday where she will make her debut in a Senior World Cup team competition.

In the table of 32, Powers fell to Viktoriya Kovaleva (RUS), 15-12.

In addition to Lee and Hassan, who lost to Zagunis and Wozniak in the openers, eight U.S. women advanced were eliminated in the table of 64.

Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.) lost to Olga Zhovnir (UKR), 15-10.

Reigning Cadet World bronze medalist Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.) lost to Li, 15-6.

Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) came close to upsetting Zhu who led the bout, 11-10, before going on to take a 15-12 win.

Former Cadet World medalist Nicole Glon (State College, Pa.) lost to Ilaria Bianco (ITA), 15-10.

Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.), a 2012 Cadet World Team member, fell to Besbes, 15-11.

Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), the younger sister of 13th place finisher Ibtihaj Muhammad, was a touch away from meeting Wozniak in the table of 32, but she lost to Nakayama, 15-14.

Sixteen-year-old Claudia Kulmacz (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) lost to Kovaleva, 15-9.

Junior Lena Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.) dropped her bout to Vecchi, 15-5.

In the men’s event, London Olympic nominee James Williams (New York City, N.Y.) earned the top finish for Team USA with a 15th place result.

Williams won his table of 64 bout over junior Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.), 15-12, and trounced Baptiste Gans (FRA), 15-5, in the table of 32.

Williams nearly had a career highlighting upset, however, in the table of 16 where he came two touches away from defeating second seed Nicolas Limbach (GER). Limbach, the 2009 Senior World Champion and a runner-up at the last two Worlds, won the bout, 15-13, and went on to take the bronze medal after withdrawing with an injury from his semifinal bout against Aron Szilagyi (HUN).

Injuries remained a theme on the men’s side on Saturday as Junghwan Kim (KOR) withdrew from the final bout as well. Kim, who was being treated by trainers minutes before taking the strip, fought the first half of the bout where he trailed by four touches before pulling out of the match against Szilagyi.

Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.), a 2011 Senior World Team member, and Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), a 2012 Junior World medalist each advanced to the table of 32.

Igoe placed 28th after a 15-11 win over Julien Medard (FRA) in the table of 64 and a 15-5 loss to Kim in the table of 32.

Dershwitz won his first bout against Wei He (CHN), 15-13, but lost the next to 2012 Pan Am Champion Joseph Polossifakis (CAN), 15-13, and finished 29th overall.

In addition to Loss, seven other U.S. athletes lost bouts in the table of 64.

London nominees Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.), Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.) and Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.) each lost in the opening round.

Homer, a 15th seed, lost by a touch to Gans, 15-14.

After a 3-3 finish in the pools on Saturday, Morehouse entered the event as a 61st seed and drew 2010 Senior World Champion Woo Young Won (KOR) in the first round. Won earned the victory, 15-9, and Morehouse was eliminated.

Spear, Team USA’s replacement athlete in London, lost to Nicolas Rousset (FRA), 15-10.

Spear’s younger brother, Will Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.) also lost in the table of 64. A 2011 Junior World Team member, the younger Spear lost to Polossifakis, 15-13.

Competing in his first senior international event, 19-year-old Michael Josephs (Chevy Chase, Md.) lost to Kim, 15-6.

Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.), a 2012 Junior and Cadet World Team member, lost to Dmitri Lapkes (BLR), 15-8.

Eighteen-year-old Duncan O’Brien (Wellesley Hills, Mass.) lost to Limbach, 15-3, in the opener.

Competition continues on Sunday with the men’s and women’s team events.

Schedule is as follows:

8:20 a.m.
Women’s Table of 16

9:15 a.m.
Women’s Quarter-finals
Women’s 9th – 16th Place Table

10:10 a.m.
Women’s Semifinals
Women’s 5th – 8th Place Table
Women’s 9th – 16th Place Table

Men’s Table of 16

1:40 p.m.
Men’s Quarter-finals
Men’s 9th – 16th Place Table

2:35 p.m.
Men’s Semifinals
Men’s 5th – 8th Place Table
Men’s 9th – 16th Place Table

3:25 p.m.
Placement Tables

6 p.m.
Women’s Bronze Medal Final

6:50 p.m.
Men’s Bronze Medal Final

7:40 p.m.
Women’s Gold Medal Final

8 p.m.
Men’s Gold Medal Final

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who were eliminated during the preliminary rounds on Friday:

Korfanty Cup Women’s Individual
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
3. Min Zhu (CHN)
5. VIktoriya Kovaleva (RUS)
6. Azza Besbes (TUN)
7. Gioia Marzocca (ITA)
8. Fei Li (CHN)

11. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
17. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)

25. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
32. Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.)
38. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
40. Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.)
44. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
48. Claudia Kulmacz (Upper Saddle River, N.J.)
49. Emma Keehan (Erie, Pa.)
53. Nicole Glon (State College, Pa.)
57. Lena Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)
58. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
59. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
60. Aziza Hassan (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
62. Allison Lee (Saddle River, N.J.)
67. Erica Zhao (Plano, Texas)
69. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
75. Arabella Uhry (New York City, N.Y.)
78. Stephanie Wang (Cupertino, Calif.)
79. Cordelia Avery (New York City, N.Y.)
81. Anastasia Pineschi (Los Angeles, Calif.)
83. Margaret McDonald (Atlanta, Ga.
84. Ilana Kamber (Short Hills, N.Y.)
85. Sophie Keehan (Erie, Pa.)
86. Taylor Walsh (Carlsbad, Calif.)
88. Mary-Grace Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
95. Desirae Major (Olathe, Kans.)
97. Stella Shifrin (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
99. Ania Parzecki (Upper Saddle River, N.J.)


Korfanty Cup Men’s Individual
1. Aron Szilagyi (HUN)
2. Junghwan Kim (KOR)
3. Bolade Apithy (FRA)
3. Nicolas Limbach (GER)
5. Bon Gil Gu (KOR)
6 Luca Curatoli (ITA)

7. Dmitri Lapkes (BLR)
8. Valery Pryiemka (BLR)

15. James Williams (New York City, N.Y.)
28. Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.)
29. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
37. Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.)
40. Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)
52. Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
55. Will Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)
58. Michael Josephs (Chevy Chase, Md.)
59. Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.)
61. Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
63. Duncan O’Brien (Wellesley Hills, Mass.)
66. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)

67. Donovan Deans (Tempe, Ariz.)

73. Isaac Buchwald (San Carlos, Calif.)

75. Bartosz Pukal (Evanston, Ill.)
77. Peter Pak (Roslyn, N.Y.)
80. Jason Meng (Farmingham, Mass.)
81. Jacob Soltysiak (Chicago, Ill.)

84. Edward Chin (Livingston, N.J.)

87. Jeffrey Dalli (San Carlos, Calif.)

88. Christopher Monti (Cary, Ill.)

96. Charles Copti (Wyckoff, N.J.)

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