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US Fencing comes to Memphis

02/09/2010, 6:35am CST
By No Author

For Immediate Release
February 9, 2010

Numerous 2009 Cadet and Junior World Championship Team Members Headline 2010 Junior Olympic Championships

The city best known for Elvis and barbeque will distinguish itself over President's Day weekend with the crowning of the 2010 U.S. Fencing Association's Junior Olympic champions at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. More than 1,600 fencers have registered for the Feb. 12-15 national tournament in Memphis, Tenn.

This year's event features 14 athletes who competed at the 2009 Junior and Cadet World Championships and were part of the successful U.S. squad that earned an astonishing 11 medals. Leading the list is 2009 Cadet World Championships silver medalist Lee Kiefer (Versailles, Ky.), also a 2009 Junior World Championships participant, who will attempt to win the women's foil titles in both the Junior and Cadet age groups.

Kiefer, who recently won the Couple Heracles Junior World Cup title in Hungary, will be challenged in both age groups by second-ranked Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.), also a member of the 2009 U.S. Cadet World Championship team and a multiple Cadet World Cup medalist.

Also challenging in the Junior women's foil title are Ambika Singh (Skillman, N.J.) and Eve Levin (New York, N.Y.). In the Cadet age group, Madison Zeiss (Los Angeles) and Mona Shaito (Garland, Texas) will push Kiefer and Lu for top honors.

The Junior Olympic Championships competition will take place at the Memphis Cook Convention Center's Main Hall, located at 225 N. Main St. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.

The athletes will be competing for valuable ranking points in hopes of earning a spot on 2010 U.S. Fencing National Team for juniors and cadets, which includes competing at the 2010 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, in April. The cadet and junior national teams for all men's weapons (epee, foil and sabre), the women's epee and the women's foil teams will be announced during this prestigious event. The women's sabre national teams will be announced following the last qualifying event on Feb. 22.

2009 Cadet World Championship runner-up Katharine Holmes will attempt to earn both age-group titles in women's epee. She leads the class in the Cadet division as the No. 1 ranked athlete and will be pushed by No. 2-4 ranked: Isabella Barna (Bend, Ore.); Ashley Severson (Franklin Lakes, N.J.); and Nik Nik Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.).

Holmes, the sixth-ranked athlete in Junior women's epee, will have to battle her way through the Junior division to win this title. Ahead of her is a pair of 2009 Junior World team members - No. 4 Francesca Bassa (Houston, Texas) and No. 5 Hannah Safford (Princeton, N.J.). Neely Brandfield-Harvey (Houston, Texas), the third-ranked epee fencer, is the favorite leading into the event.

2009 Junior World Championship men's foil team silver medalist Zain Shaito (Garland, Texas) looks to increase his ranking in hopes of qualifying for another World Championship. He will be challenged by third-ranked David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.), No. 6 Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.), and Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.), who is ranked seventh.

Cadet World team members Alexander Ryjik (Alexandria, Va.) and Will Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) will look to return back to the international scene in the Cadet men's sabre division. John Hallsten (Sacramento, Calif.) and Eugene Chung (Olney, Md.), who are ranked No. 3 and 4 respectively, will attempt an upset for the title.

The Junior women's sabre title will be hotly contested as it features 2009 Junior World team member Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.), 2009 Cadet World Championship bronze medalist Nicole Glon (State College, Pa.) and 2009 Cadet World team member Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.).

The top-four ranked Junior men's epee athletes will square off for a shot at the title and includes: James Hawrot (Barrington, R.I.); Michael Raynis (Chatsworth, Calif.); 2009 Junior World participant Adam Watson (Richford, Vermont); and Edward Kelley (San Antonio, Texas).

The Cadet women's sabre class is highlighted by three Wayne, N.J., athletes and lead by No. 1 ranked Celina Merza, No. 5 Alisha Gomez and No. 6 Francesca Russo. The Jersey trio will also be pushed by No. 2 Sarah Pak (Roslyn, N.Y.).

The Junior men's sabre class will feature the second-fifth ranked U.S. athletes: Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.); Sean Buckley (Secaucus, N.J.); Eric Arzoian (Beverly Hills, Calif.); Aleksander Ochocki (Clark, N.J.).

The top-four ranked Cadet men's epee stars will square off for the title, which includes: Andrew Meyers (Scarsdale, N.Y.); Alexander Eldeib (Burke, Va.); Ayyub Ibrahim (Bronx, N.Y.); and Joseph Scott Wiey (Houston, Texas).

No. 2 ranked Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will lead the Cadet men's foil class for the Junior Olympic title and see competition from No. 3 Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.); No. 4 Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.); and No. 5 Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco).

The Junior Olympic Championships are the national championships for the junior and cadet fencers in each of the three weapons, for boys and girls, and are the final domestic competitions in the selection cycle for the Junior and Cadet World Fencing Championships. The Junior Olympic Championships are held annually in February during the four-day President's holiday weekend. Fencers must qualify to compete in this tournament.

On Saturday, Feb. 13, the U.S. Fencing All-Academic team and honorable mentions will be announced at 7 p.m. in the Memphis Cook Convention Center Ballroom.

For more information on the 2010 Junior Olympic Championships, click here.

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