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London Olympian Alexander Massialas and Michael Mills Win Foil and Saber Titles at NCAAs

03/23/2013, 8:00pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

NCAA Champion Alexander Massialas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Until this week, 18-year-old Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) has fenced on every major competitive stage – but one.

The Stanford freshman has competed at the London Olympic Games, three Senior World Championships, four Junior Worlds, the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and dozens of tournaments on the World Cup and Grand Prix tournaments where he has grabbed four medals in the last two months alone. 

Juggling finals and jet lag from last weekend’s trip to the Grand Prix in Venice, the foil fencer arrived at his first NCAA Championships on Thursday with 10 Stanford teammates.

By the end of the first day of competition, Massialas was in fourth after 15 five-touch bouts and a 12-3 record.

After two losses in the fourth round of pools on Friday, Massialas dropped to fifth, but moved ahead of his 2012 Junior World Teammate Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas) – a freshman at Princeton – after the fifth and final pool round to hang onto a position in the semifinals.

Massialas’s fourth seed would put him in a semi bout against Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) – his teammate on both the 2012 Olympic Team and at the Massialas Foundation at Halberstadt.

Although Massialas won their last bout in the quarter-finals of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix earlier this month, Meinhardt had built a 12-6 lead in the second period as the two-time Olympian went after a chance at a second NCAA title.

Massialas fought back as he went on a seven-touch run to take the score to 13-12. The two exchanged touches with Massialas tying Meinhardt and 14 and closing out the victory, 15-14.

In the second semifinal, two-time Junior World Team Champion David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) led his Penn State teammate and 2012 Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.), 12-10, after the first period. Willette outscored Chamley-Watson, 3-2, after the break to win the bout, 15-12, and advance to his second NCAA final after taking silver behind Meinhardt in 2010.

In the gold medal final, Massialas held a 13-10 lead over his M Team teammate by the end of the first period and finished the bout with two quick touches in the second to win Stanford's first NCAA fencing title since 2010 by a score of 15-10.

“To be able to come in my first year and take the gold with possibly the hardest field ever with four Olympians is awesome,” Massialas said. “It’s one of the toughest tournaments there is and I barely made it into the final four, but am proud to be able to win it.”

Massialas and Willette have fenced both together and against each other for most of their careers at the junior and senior level and Massialas noted that it’s always difficult competing against a teammate.

“He’s a great fencer and I respect him a lot. It’s a double-edged sword. I love fencing and I love winning, but beating one of my good friends is always tough too,” Massialas said.

A sixth-place finisher in men’s saber at the London Games, Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) was favored to win his third NCAA title at the start of the event and the St. John’s redshirt senior dropped just one round robin bout during the two days of competition to enter the semis as the top seed.

Fencing in the first semifinal of the event, Homer came out strong and built a 9-5 lead over Canadian Shaul Gordon, a Penn State freshman. Gordon scored four straight to tie the bout at nine, but Homer pulled ahead at 13-9. Gordon scored four more touches to tie the bout at 13 and, while Homer scored once more, it was the Canadian who picked up the last two touches to win the bout, 15-14.

The second semifinal featured two former Cadet World Team members Michael Mills (Short Hills, N.J. / Pennsylvania) and Adrian Bak (Franklin Lakes, N.J. / Penn State). Although both fencers have made two past NCAA appearances, neither had fenced in the final four prior to Friday.

Mills outtouched Bak, 15-14, to advance to the gold medal bout where he controlled his bout against Gordon to win his first NCAA title, 15-9, over Gordon after placing 16th and 20th during the past two years.

In the men’s epee competition, two-time Junior World Team member Jonathan Yergler (Princeton, N.J.) entered the event as the reigning NCAA Champion and arrived in San Antonio fresh off individual and team events at the Tallinn World Cup in Estonia last weekend.

Yergler advanced to the semifinals as the third seed and the defeated his Princeton teammate and 2011 Junior World Team member Edward Kelley (San Antonio, Texas)

In the other semifinal, Harvard sophomore Peregrine Badger (Providence, R.I.) and Ohio State senior Marco Canevari (ITA) took a non-combattivity penalty during the first period. By the end of the third period, Canevari held onto an 11-9 lead to win the bout and advance to the finals against Yergler.

Yergler kept the final bout close with the score tied at eight in the second period, but the Italian went on a 7-1 run to earn the gold, 15-9.

With four athletes earning First Team All-American honors, Penn State leads the team standings after the first day of competition with 94 points, followed by Princeton (83), Notre Dame (77) and Harvard (75). Ohio State – the 2012 NCAA Team Champion – is currently in fifth with 70 points.

Competition continues on Saturday with the first three rounds of the women’s epee, foil and saber events. The final two rounds as well as the semifinal and final bouts will be held on Sunday.

Among the athletes in the lineup will be three members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, including women’s epee bronze medalists Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas / Notre Dame) and Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, Minn. / Princeton) and 2011 women’s foil Senior World medalist Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky. / Notre Dame)

ESPN3 will air the semifinal and championship bouts live at 1:30 p.m. Central on Sunday. USA Fencing President Don Anthony Jr. will serve as an analyst for the broadcast.

Click here to view complete results.

Top 12 results, including notations of First Team, Second Team and Honorable Mention All-Americans, are as follows:

Men’s Epee
1. Marco Canevari (ITA / Ohio State)
2. Jonathan Yergler (Princeton, N.J. / Princeton)
3. Peregrine Badger (Providence, R.I. / Harvard)
3. Edward Kelley (San Antonio, Texas / Princeton)
Second Team All-Americans
5. Dylan Nollner (Ogden, Utah / Duke)
6. Brian Ro (Scarsdale, N.Y. / Columbia)
7. Daniel Tafoya (Columbus, Ohio / Ohio State)
8. Ayyub Ibrahim (Bronx, N.Y. / Pennsylvania)
Honorable Mention All-Americans
9. Joseph Rafidi (Hidden Hills, Calif. / MIT)
10. Kelly McGuire (Park City, Utah / Brown)
11. Mike Raynis (Chatsworth, Calif. / Harvard)
12. Adam Watson (Richford, Vt. / St. John’s) 

Men’s Foil
First Team All-Americans
1. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif. / Stanford)
2. David Willette (Lafayette, Calif. / Penn State)
3. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif. / Notre Dame)
3. Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Penn State)
Second Team All-Americans
5. Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas / Princeton)
6. Zain Shaito (LIB / Ohio State)
7. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J. / Harvard)
8. Michael Woo (Wayne, N.J. / Harvard)
Honorable Mention All-Americans
9. Michele Caporizzi (ITA / St. John’s)
10. Ariel DeSmet (Portland, Ore. / Notre Dame)
11. Turner Caldwell (San Francisco, Calif. / Stanford)
12. Christopher Colley (Portland, Ore. / Ohio State)

Men’s Saber
First Team All-Americans
1. Michael Mills (Short Hills, N.J. / Pennsylvania)
2. Shaul Gordon (CAN / Penn State)
3. Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y. / St. John’s)
3. Adrian Bak (Franklin Lakes, N.J. / Penn State)
Second Team All-Americans
5. Will Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y. / Columbia)
6. Max Stearns (CAN / Ohio State)
7. Robert Stone (Chicago, Ill. / Princeton)
8. Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.)
Honorable Mention All-Americans
9. Kevin Hassett (Beaverton, Ore. / Notre Dame)
10. Michael Josephs (Chevy Chase, Md. / Columbia)
11. Hugh O’Cinneide (Upper Montclair, N.J. / Yale)
12. Adam Mandel (White Plains, N.Y. / Brandeis)

Tag(s): News  Daryl Homer  Alexander Massialas  Gerek Meinhardt  Miles Chamley-Watson