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Successful Season for the Junior/Cadet Men's Foil

03/12/2010, 10:58am CST
By No Author

By Vicki Volper:  Men's Foil Team Manager

The United States Men's Foil Team has had a great 2009-2010 Cadet and Junior season.  National Men's Foil Coach, Mauro Hamza, is well on his way to achieving his goal of restructuring the team for increased unity, effectiveness and success.  Fencers, coaches and parents are all very pleased with his approach and with the team's excellent results. 

Coach Hamza's decision to invite some of our country's outstanding foil coaches to travel with the Men's Foil Team to international events has been very well received and extremely productive. Special thanks to Jon Tiomkin, Greg Massialas, Slava Grigoriev, and Nat Goodhartz for their outstanding work with our fencers and their contribution to the success of the U.S. Junior team, and to Gia Kvaratskhelia and Jed Dupree for their excellent work with our nation's top cadets.

Here's a recap of the top U.S. finishes at the international Cadet/Junior events this season:

At the first event, the Eden Cup, which took place in London in October, David Willette clinched the first Category-A world cup medal of the season, a gold, after a difficult weather-delayed trip from State College, Pennsylvania.  Teammate Zain Shaito finished an impressive 8th.  Race Imboden and Brian Kaneshige both finished in the top 16, and Alexander Massialas and Alexander Pensler finished in the top 32.

In November, at the next designated Junior world cup in Aix-en-Provence, France, the U. S. Team displayed its depth against some of the top competitors in the world.  Race Imboden and David Willette were among the top 16 finishers, and Nobuo Bravo, Jeremy Goldstein, Igor Krivenko and Alexander Pensler finished in the top 32.

At the final Junior world cup of the '09 calendar year, the "Steinfurter-Schloss", which took place in Burgsteinfurt, Germany, Alexander Massialas captured the U.S.'s second Junior world cup gold of the season.  Brian Kaneshige's bronze medal finish and Zain Shaito's 6th place were also spectacular.  Bolivar Charles finished in 11th place, and Alexander Pensler, Jerry Chang and Jeremy Goldstein were among the top 32 finishers.

As always, the toughest Junior event of the season was the world cup in Budapest in January.  Despite the stiff competition, Alexander Massialas and Jerry Chang finished in the top 16, an outstanding achievement.

The season finished off with the Junior World Cup in Modling, Austria in February, where David Willette, for the second time this season, stood on the podium of a Junior world cup, this time with a bronze medal around his neck.  Zain Shaito finished in the top 32.

 Although there are no official international Cadet rankings, there is no doubt that the U. S. Cadet Men's Foil Team is the strongest in the world.  Their success this season bears this out.  At the Cadet competition in Budapest in October, Adam ElKassas took the bronze, Race Imboden and Michael Woo finished in the top 16, and Robert Daniluk, Jerry Chang, Jonathan Jacovino, Rodney Chen and Nobuo Bravo were in the top 32.

In November, the Cadets fenced the extraordinarily large international invitational in Cabries, France.  Out of 427 participants, four of the top eight finishers were Americans:  Alexander Massialas crushed the competition, and for the second consecutive year, struck gold.  Jerry Chang took bronze, and Brian Kaneshige and Race Imboden finished 5th and 8th respectively.  In the top 16 were Nobuo Bravo, Harrison Bergman and Michael Dudey.  Jonathan Lee and Robert Daniluk placed in the top 32.

The U.S. cadet team displayed its dominance once again at the final Cadet tournament in Paris in February. Six of the top eight finalists, in a field of 205, were American.  Brian Kaneshige won the gold, Michael Dudey took silver and Nobuo Bravo took bronze.  Race Imboden, Jerry Chang and Michael Woo placed 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.  Jason Chang, John Avendano and Jonathan Lee were in the top 16 finishers, and Justin Lee and Robert Moore finished in the top 32.

In addition to medals, another result of Coach Hamza's leadership has been the increased cohesiveness of the team.  In past years, fencers were often spread out over a variety of hotels, only seeing each other at the competition venue. This season, team members traveling to international events now all stay in one team hotel and travel to and from the tournament venue together.  A highlight of the trips has been the team dinner the night before the event where fencers could bond, and coaches and parents could socialize and discuss logistics for the following day.

Apparently, the fencers liked this change.  Junior fencer Alexander Pensler "...really liked how we did everything as a team. For example, everyone stayed in the same hotel and then traveled to and from the competition together. Made it feel more like a team representing USA as opposed to individuals just representing themselves."


Adding to the team's strength this year was the training camp in December run jointly by Coach Hamza and Mike Pederson, coach of the United States Women's Foil Team.  Penn State University generously donated their facilities and the time and expertise of their coaching staff for this camp, hopefully the first of many.  It also goes without saying that in a country as large as ours, the team would not have been as successful without the consistent, excellent training the fencers receive all year from their personal and college coaches.

Stephen DiCioccio, father of Junior fencer Gianni DiCioccio, has traveled to a number of Cadet and Junior International events over the last few years and sees a big change for the better this year.  He appreciates the improved organization of the trips and better dissemination of information.  He also thinks that having "a team hotel, team dinner and common transportation, encourages the fencers and their families to feel like a more cohesive team than a collection of individuals fending for themselves."  He added that "wearing their U.S. Fencing warm ups, traveling together, and sharing a hotel and meals at a World Cup event is the nearest thing most fencers will have to an Olympic Team experience and goes a long way to building espirit d' corps."

Fiona and Bill Imboden, parents of Cadet fencer Race Imboden, have this to say about Coach Hamza's leadership:  "Whether it's his plans for the season or details for individual events - we've been pleased to hear regularly from Coach Hamza.   Coach Hamza has really made an effort to communicate what's happening with the fencers, including Juniors and Cadets.  He has made great progress building a bridge for all U.S. competitors on the international circuit."  

Fencer Brian Kaneshige summed up the season this way: "Coach Hamza's presence has changed men's foil in the U.S. by bringing us closer together as a team."

Kurt Getz, the men's team captain, had this to say: "Never during my time as a cadet/junior was the US team so deep as it is now.  This season it seems there is at least one finalist in virtually every cadet/junior tournament the U.S. has fencers entered in.  The efforts put forth by Coach Hamza and the new generation of U.S. cadet/junior fencers and their personal coaches has helped set a new bar of success for Americans on an international level."


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