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Zagunis Reaches Fifth Straight Podium in Moscow, Wozniak Places Seventh

03/24/2013, 11:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Mariel Zagunis (far right) receives her bronze medal at the Moscow Grand Prix. Olga Kharlan (UKR) won gold. Sofiya Velikaya (RUS) took silver and Vassiliki Vougiouka (GRE) won the other bronze. Photo credit: Cathy Zagunis

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) claimed her fifth straight international medal on Saturday at the Moscow Grand Prix where she finished third.

Seeded second in the tournament, Zagunis made quick work of her first two opponents as she defeated Martina Petraglia (ITA), 15-7, in the table of 64 and Marta Puda (POL), 15-8, in her second bout of the day.

Zagunis’s next two opponents would be rematches from last week’s World Cup in Antalya, Turkey – with exactly the same results.

In the table of 16, Zagunis and two-time Senior World Team Champion Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS) went down to 14 touches each before Zagunis closed out the bout, 15-14.

The eighth seed in the tournament, London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) won three straight bouts before advancing to her second quarter-final in a week against Zagunis.

In her opening bouts, Wozniak defeated Alexandra Shatalova (RUS), 15-11, in the table of 64 and won her table of 32 bout against teammate Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-5.

After a 15-10 win over French junior Manon Brunet in the table of 16, Wozniak moved into the quarter-final rounds.

In their fourth match-up during the last two seasons, Zagunis won the bout, 15-13 – repeating their score from both Antalya and the 2012 Pan American Championships.

Wozniak finished seventh – a result that allowed her to move up to seventh in the world rankings.

Zagunis advanced to the semifinals where she faced Sofiya Velikaya – the Russian who defeated Zagunis at the 2011 Senior World Championships.

Since then, however, Zagunis won their last match-up at the 2012 Orleans Grand Prix and Velikaya dropped her bouts in early rounds during the last two tournaments to 2009 Senior World Team member Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) and two-time Senior World Team medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)

While she struggled in both Antalya and Bologna, Velikaya arrived on the semifinal strip looking like the fencer who won silver in London and was previously the top-ranked fencer in the world.

In the first period, Velikaya controlled the bout in front of a hometown crowd to take an 8-4 lead against Zagunis.

In the second period, Velikaya pulled ahead to 10-5, but Zagunis fought back with four straight touches to cut Velikaya’s lead to 10-9.

The Russian took the score to 14-12 and went to close out the bout, but Zagunis stayed determined and scored twice more to force a tie at 14.

On the next exchange, Velikaya scored with one light to win the bout, 15-14, and went on to win the silver medal while Zagunis won bronze.

Three of Zagunis’s teammates finished in the top 32. In addition to Faizah Muhammad’s 23rd place finish, her older sister, Ibtihaj Muhammad, finished 18th.

Seeded 12th, Ibtihaj won her table of 64 bout over 2007 Senior World Team medalist Nina Kozlova (UKR), 15-6, but lost her next bout to Sevil Bunyatova (AZE), 15-12.

Two-time Junior World Team member Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) earned her fourth top-32 senior international finish of the season. The 16-year-old went 5-1 in the pools on Friday and opened the direct elimination tables with a 15-12 victory over Aksamit who finished 41st. In the table of 32, Palmedo nearly upset 2012 Olympic Champion Ji Yeon Kim (KOR), but fell three touches short and dropped the bout, 15-12.

Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) went 4-2 in the pools to advance to the direct elimination tables. In the table of 64, Schneider lost her bout to Matylda Ostojska (POL), 15-12.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Moscow Saber Grand Prix
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Sofiya Velikaya (RUS)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Vassiliki Vougiouka (GRE)
5. Ji Yeon Kim (KOR)
6. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
7. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
8. Ilaria Bianco (ITA)

18. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
23. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
26. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
41. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
43. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)

Tag(s): News  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis