skip navigation

Junior Men’s Epee and Women’s Foil Teams Named on First Day of Junior Olympics in Baltimore

02/16/2013, 10:30pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Team USA's individual qualifiers for the Junior Men's Epee World Team (L-R): Lewis Weiss, Conor Shepard and Alex House. Photo credit: Nicole JOmantas

(Baltimore, Md.) – The first day of the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships began on Friday with two of the squads being named that will fence at the Junior World Championships in Croatia in April.

At just 17, Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas) was the youngest of the top eight fencer in the junior men’s epee event. 

Simmons, who won silver at the January North American Cup in the competition, earned a bye into the table of 128 where he defeated 2013 Junior Pan Am Team member Inaki De Guzman (Fairfax, Va.), 15-9.

In the table of 64, Cameron Woods (Chicago, Ill.) led their bout, 14-10, but Simmons scored five straight single touches to take the win in the third period.

Simmons won his next bout against Juan Barzallo (Dunlap, Ill.), 15-11, and defeated his Alliance Fencing Academy teammate, Anton Piskovatskov (Houston, Texas) by a score of 15-12 in the table of 16.

In the quarter-finals, Simmons defeated 2011 Cadet World Team member Brian Ro (Scarsdale, N.Y.), 15-11.

Simmons’ semifinal bout pitted him against Alex House (Upton, Mass.) who took a 7-6 lead after the first period. Simmons tied the bout at nine and built a 12-10 lead, but House came back to tie the score at 12. A single touch by Simmons gave him a 13-12 lead that he used to finish out the bout with two doubles and a 15-14 score.

While House lost the semifinal bout, his bronze medal moved him into the third and final individual slot on the Junior World Team which is selected from the top three junior men’s epee fencers on the National Team Standings at the conclusion of the Junior Olympics.

“Honestly, until like a week ago, I didn’t think I even had a chance mathematically to qualify,” House said.

That all changed when the 18-year-old earned a top-eight finish at the Gothenburg Junior World Cup last weekend.

Ranked 18th going into the tournament in Sweden, House moved up to fifth after he placed eighth at the event.

Although he needed at least a top-eight finish at the Junior Olympics to move up to fifth, House said he tried not to focus on his end goal.

“It’s always in the back of your head at the start, but you can’t think about it from bout to bout because it will just make you go crazy,” House said. “I still can’t really believe I qualified and probably the last 15 minutes is the first time I’ve gotten a chance to realize it because I’ve come so close before, but I’m really looking forward to going to Worlds and representing my country.”

House’s ascent up the rankings put him onto the Junior World squad with teammates Lewis Weiss (Houston, Texas) and Conor Shepard (Colleyville, Texas). A fourth athlete who will compete in the team event only will be announced later in the week.

Although the Junior World Team positions had been secured, Simmons still had a gold medal to win – a task which would be far from easy as his opponent would be 2012 Cadet World medalist Alexander Eldeib (Burke, Va.)

“I’ve never fenced Ace before today. We were both talking about it earlier today actually. When we got to top eight we looked at the sheet and were like ‘hmmm, maybe we’ll fence in the finals.’ Fencers always talk at tournaments like ‘oh, I’ve fenced you before, but I’ve really never fenced you and I want to.’ I told Ace ‘I really want to fence you’ and he said ‘you too’ so I was looking forward to it,” Simmons said.

With the score tied at nine after the first period, Simmons scored two single touches to take an 11-9 lead after which Simmons gave up just two more touches before closing out the bout, 15-11.

“Once I got out there I was having cramps … so my coaches told me I shouldn’t move as much and save the fencing. But it was a fun bout. It was really fun. It hasn’t hit me that I’m National Champion though,” Simmons laughed.

Although his ranking of #26 at the start of the tournament put him out of contention for the Junior World Team, the gold medal will move him into the #1 position in the cadet (U17) team rankings.

With the cadet event still being held on Sunday, Simmons has already locked down his position on the team as he can fall no further than third in the rankings regardless of his result in the cadet event.

“It’s going to be a very humbling experience to represent the U.S. I’ve represented my country at World Cups before, but this is different. You fence the best of the best and it’s going to be interesting,” Simmons said. “I hope I do well because when you make a team, you don’t just do it to make the team, you do it to represent your country and your club and yourself and to do well at the World Championships. Now it’s all about two months of training.”

In the junior women’s foil competition, each of the three individual positions were secured prior to the start of the competition.

London Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.), three-time Junior World medalist Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) and two-time Junior World medalist Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) will represent Team USA. The fourth member of the junior team will be named later in the week.

Fifteen-year-old Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.) won her first cadet North American Cup title last month with her gold medal victory in the women’s foil event and followed with a second gold in the junior women’s foil event on Sunday.

Seeded first out the pools, Blow earned a bye into the table of 64, but her visions of gold almost evaporated during her bout with Simone Unwalla (Great Falls, Va.)

With a 14-5 lead, Blow watched as Unwalla fought her way back to 14-13. Blow received a red card which tied the score for Unwalla. On the final exchange, Blow scored the last touch to win the bout.

“I cried afterward. I feared that if I lost I’d be upset and if I won I didn’t know how I’d come back from being so scared and traumatized,” Blow said.

With a short break between the tables of 64 and 32, Blow had time to regroup.

“I just had to take a walk and calm myself down. I focused on my breathing because that controls everything like my mind and my muscles,” she said.

Blow won her next bout, 15-10, over Sarah Suhyun Pak (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) and defeated Audra Fox (Scarsdale, N.Y.), 15-6, in the table of 16.

In the quarter-finals, Blow took a 7-5 lead over Taylor Chin (Cupertino, Calif.) and closed out the first period, 9-5. Blow gave up just one touch in the next period to win the bout, 15-6.

With Blow ahead of Naomi Popkin (Ridgewood, N.J.), 11-4, in their semifinal bout, Popkin sustained an injury late in the first period. After a medical timeout, she returned to the strip and Blow scored three more touches to take a 14-4 lead after the first period. Although Popkin picked up the first score in the second period, Blow won the bout, 15-5.  

In the gold medal final, Blow met 15-year-old Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.) who was battling for both gold and valuable ranking points as she was in close contention for a berth on the Cadet World Team that will be selected on Sunday.

Blow joked with friends and family prior to the start of the bout and said keeping things light helps her win.

She said it was advice from her coach, Buckie Leach (New York City, N.Y.) that helped put her in the right mindset.

“After my first bout, my coach talked to me and said ‘you fence because it’s fun. You don’t fence to stress yourself out,’” Blow said.  “So I just wanted to have fun because, when I won cadets at the last NAC, it was because I was out there and trying to do actions and just being the loopy fun girl. But it works for me because it helps me relax, but, at the same time, I’m serious because I want to win.”

Blow led the bout from the start and held a 9-5 lead after the first period. In the second, she outscored Crum, 6-1, to win the match, 15-6.

Blow will take Saturday off before returning for the cadet women’s foil event on Sunday where she has aspirations of winning her third straight gold.

“I came in and my attitude was that I wanted to dominate both juniors and cadets. I didn’t want to be that person who won the last event and couldn’t handle the pressure and lost in the first DE. I was at the bottom at the beginning of the season and I kept on losing and I’m tired of that,” Blow said. “Now I’m coming into cadet and, even though there’s that pressure like ‘she won juniors, so she should win cadet,’ I know I can do it, not that I have to do it. There’s not that pressure. And I want to win both juniors and cadets and that’s what I’m here to do.”

While Blow came to Baltimore to return to the podium, 16-year-old Lillian Chu (Saratoga, Calif.) entered the cadet women’s saber for just the second time at the Junior Olympics.

Although she has been fencing for just four years, Chu earned a top-eight finish at the Arizona Junior Saber World Cup last month and was seeded 10th after going undefeated in the pools.

Chu defeated Maia Loy (Ballston Lakes, N.Y.), 15-5, in the table of 64 and won her next bout against Valerie Garcia (Plano, Texas), 15-12.

After a table of 16 victory over Maia Chamberlain (Menlo Park, Calif.), Chu edged Sarah Merza (Wayne, N.J.), 15-14, in the quarter-finals.

Chu won her semifinal bout, 15-12, against Riya Dave (Ardsley, N.Y.) who was fresh off a bronze medal win at the Junior World Cup in Vienna on Sunday.

Chu led her gold medal bout against Haley Fisher (Kennesaw, Ga.), 8-7, at the break, but Fisher tied the bout at 10 during the second period. The two fencers exchanged touches until Chu finished the bout with two unanswered scores and a 15-13 win.

“I’ve fenced Haley many many times, but I’ve never beaten her until today,” said Chu who just began fencing four years ago. “Winning’s really really nice because I get to show my friends at school why I’m leaving school so much and that it’s always possible to do well even if you start late.”

There are three more opportunities to earn qualifying points for the Cadet Women's Saber World Team, including the Badapest Junior World Cup on Sunday, the junior women's saber competition here at the Junior Olympics on Sunday and the Gent Senior Women's World Cup in Belgium on Feb. 23. 

Following the Gent event, the final team will be announced. 

In the junior men’s saber team event, the New York Athletic Club team of Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.), Mikolaj Bak (Linden, N.J.), Edward Radev (Middle Village, N.Y.) and Michael Szczesniak (Linden, N.J.) defeated the Fencing Academy of Denver, 45-25, in the quarter-finals and DC Fencers Club, 45-42, in the semis.

In the gold medal final, the NYAC faced another team from New York – Peter Westbrook Foundation 1.

Metryka entered the final bout as anchor against Idris Mitchell (Newark, N.J.) with a 40-36 lead for his team. Although Mitchell scored seven touches on Metryka, NYAC closed out the match, 45-43.

Mitchell and teammates Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.), Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) and Jackson Edwards (Newark, N.J.) won the silver medal.

In the bronze medal match, the DC Fencers Club took on the Laguna Fencing Center.

With Laguna Fencing Center up, 20-14, after the fourth bout, Reed Srere (Washington, D.C.) outscored Christian Roth (Dana Point, Calif.), 11-1, in the fifth.

Laguna Fencing Center’s Ian Jones (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) outscored Ian Richards (Chevy Chase, Md.), 9-0, in the sixth period, but James Cameron (Silver Spring, Md.) came back in the seventh to build 35-34 lead for DC Fencers.

Subbed into the eighth bout for DC Fencers, Eli Polston (Silver Spring, Md.) protected the lead with a 5-2 victory over Ethan Marquez (Laguna Niguel, Calif.)

As anchor, Srere won the final bout against Jones, 5-2, and finished the match with a 45-38 bronze medal victory for DC Fencers Club.

Competition continues on Saturday with the schedule as follows:

Saturday, February 16
8:30 a.m.
Junior Men’s Individual Saber
Junior Women’s Individual Epee
Junior Women’s Team Foil


2 p.m.
Junior Men’s Team Epee


2:30 p.m.
Cadet Men’s Individual Foil


Click here to view complete results.


Top eight results are as follows:


Junior Men’s Individual Epee
1. Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas)
2. Ace Eldeib (Burke, Va.)
3. Lewis Weiss (Houston, Texas)
3. Alex House (Upton, Mass.)
5. Garrett McGrath (Maricopa, Ariz.)
6. Gabriel Canaux (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
7. Brian Ro (Scarsdale, N.Y.)
8. Nicholas Hanahan (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Junior Women’s Individual Foil
1. Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
2. Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.)
3. Naomi Popkin (Ridgewood, N.J.)
3. Jessie Laffey (Glen Ridge, N.J.)
5. MW McElwee (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. Taylor Chin (Cupertino, Calif.)
7. Mikela Goldstein (Hewlett, N.Y.)
8. Eliza Klyce (San Francisco, Calif.)

Cadet Women’s Individual Saber
1. Lillian Chu (Saratoga, Calif.)
2. Haley Fisher (Kennesaw, Ga.)
3. Anastasia Ivanoff (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Riya Dave (Ardsley, N.Y.)
5. Jessica Rockford (Livingston, N.J.)
6. Sarah Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
7. Elysia Wang (Plainsboro, N.J.)
8. Katherine Kudryashov (East Brunswick, N.J.)

Junior Men’s Team Saber
1. New York Athletic Club
2. Peter Westbrook Foundation 1
3. DC Fencers Club
4. Laguna Fencing Center
5. Team Excluded
6. Hristov-Csikany
7. Boston Fencing Club
8. Fencing Academy of Denver

The following are the rosters of athletes named to the Junior Men’s Epee and Junior Women’s Foil World Championship Teams, including alternates:

Junior Men’s Epee World Championship Team
1. Lewis Weiss (Houston, Texas)
2. Conor Shepard (Colleyville, Texas)
3. Alex House (Upton, Mass.)
ALT 1: Alexander Eldeib (Burke, Va.)
ALT 2: Spencer Amann (Westminster, Colo.)
ALT 3: Matthew McGrath (Maricopa, Ariz.)

Junior Women’s Foil World Championship Team
1. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
2. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
3. Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.)
ALT 1: Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.)
ALT 2: Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
ALT 3: Madison Zeiss (Notre Dame, Ind.)

Tag(s): News