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Lee Kiefer and Eli Dershwitz Return to the Podium at Junior Worlds

04/11/2013, 12:15am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Lee Kiefer (far right) on the podium after winning bronze at the Junior World Championships. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

Men's saber bronze medalist Eli Dershwitz and his coach Zoran Tulum. Photo credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Foil fencer Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) and saber fencer Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) each returned to the podium at the Junior World Championships in Porec, Croatia on Wednesday.

For Kiefer, a London Olympian and freshman at Notre Dame, her bronze medal finish makes her the first ever U.S. women’s foil fencer to earn three straight individual medals at the Junior World Championships after taking bronze in 2012 and silver in 2011.

After advancing to the table of 32 as the #1 seed, the 18-year-old faced little challenge from either of her first two opponents as she cruised through bouts against Maria Boldor (ROU) and Pauline Ranvier (FRA) with 15-2 and 15-3 victories, respectively.

In the quarter-finals, Kiefer methodically racked up touches against eighth seed Julie Mienville (FRA). Kiefer built an 11-4 lead at the break and finished the bout, 15-7.

Kiefer’s victories set up an evening semifinal against Camilla Mancini (ITA). The top-ranked junior women’s foil fencer in the world, Mancini upset Kiefer in the semis in 2012 and make a three-touch run to take an 8-5 lead at the break. Mancini held Kiefer to just four touches in the second period as she took the bout, 15-9, and went on to win gold.

“It feels good to medal again, but hopefully I’ll be able to win a gold next time,” Kiefer said. “I fenced my earlier bouts well, but I didn’t fence well in the semifinals and think I could have been more intense, I guess.”

Fencing in the individual event at the Junior Worlds for the first time, two-time Junior World Team silver medalist Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) finished fifth.

Seeded second in the tournament, the 18-year-old Columbia freshman jumped out to a five-touch lead against Tamina Knauer (GER) in the table of 32, but Knauer came within a touch of tying the bout, 12-11, in the third period. With 30 seconds on the clock, Dubrovich scored three straight to advance to the table of 16.

Dubrovich defeated Szonja Szalai (HUN), 15-10, in the table of 16, to advance to the quarter-finals against 2013 Junior European medalist Francesca Palumbo (ITA).

Palumbo led the bout, 3-2, after the first period, but Dubrovich tied the Italian at four early in the first minute of the second period when Palumbo was given a second penalty. Palumbo went on a 7-1 run to take an 11-5 lead and finished the bout, 15-8.

Dubrovich’s Columbia teammate, 19-year-old Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.), a 2011 Junior World individual medalist, fought back from a nine-touch deficit to defeat Italian Martina Sinigalia (ITA), 15-14, in the table of 32.

Lu went on to fence Palumbo in the table of 16. Up by just a touch at the start of the third period, 4-3, Palumbo outscored Lu, 10-6, to take the win, 14-9.

Kiefer, Lu and Dubrovich and 2012 Cadet World silver medalist Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.) will return to the strip on Saturday for the team event where the Americans will look to improve on their silver medals at the 2011 and 2012 Junior Worlds.

As the top seed in the team event, the Americans earned a bye into the table of 16. Italy, the two-time reigning Junior World Team Champions, is seeded second.

“I think, if we fence well, we can definitely get a gold medal,” Kiefer said.

Seventeen-year-old Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) surprised his opponents in 2012 when he won the silver medal. Since then, two podium finishes on the Junior World Cup gave Dershwitz a #2 junior world ranking going into his second appearance at the Junior World Championships.

“There was definitely more pressure. Last year, I was just having fun and this year I knew I was supposed to do well, so it was a lot harder,” Dershwitz said of his status as a favorite going into the event.

Seeded ninth after the first day of competition, Dershwitz defeated Maxence Lambert (FRA), 15-6, in the table of 32.

In the table of 16, Dershwitz scored five unanswered touches to open his bout against Vyacheslav Iskandarov (RUS) and held an 8-4 lead at the half. In the second period, the Russian scored just two touches as Dershwitz won the bout, 15-6.

Dershwitz led Ziqiu Zhou (CHN), 8-2, at the break of the quarter-finals and went on to take the bout, 15-5, to advance to the semifinals and secure his second Junior World medal, making him the first U.S. men’s saber fencer to win two medals at the Junior Worlds since Athens Olympian Ivan Lee (Brooklyn, N.Y.) won back-to-back medals in 2000 and 2001.

In the semifinals, Dershwitz came back from a 14-10 deficit against Hungarian Andras Szatmari (HUN) to tie the bout, but Szatmari scored the final touch to win the bout, 15-14.

“In the beginning I was really frustrated and by the end I just stopped and thought about how lucky I was to be here and how much fun I was having and that helped me to relax,” Dershwitz said.

Although he came away from the event with a bronze medal, Dershwitz was frustrated with his semifinal loss.

“I’m actually a little disappointed because last year I lost, 15-14, in the finals and this year, the same thing, I lost, 15-14, to get into the final and I was on a really good roll before that,” Dershwitz said.  

Seventeen-year-old Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.) won silver at the 2012 Cadet World Championships and was hoping for another medal in his first appearance at the Junior Worlds.

Mackiewicz gave up just five touches against Yue Tian (CHN) in the table of 32 and went on to face second seed Francesco D’Armiento (ITA) in the 16.

With the score tied at 11 at the break, Mackiewicz scored to take a one-touch lead, but the call was overturned and the score given to the Italian. Mackiewicz scored again to tie the bout at 12; however, D’Armiento took the next two touches and a 14-12 lead.

Mackiewicz tied the bout again at 14 and leapt into the air to score the winning touch, but the referee decided that he was off the back of the strip at the time and the score was awarded to D’Armiento who went on to win bronze, leaving Mackiewicz with a 13th place result.

Penn State freshman Kaito Streets (Redwood City, Calif.) advanced to the table of 32, but lost to Zhou, 15-12, and finished 22nd.

Dershwitz, Mackiewicz, Streets and Columbia freshman Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.) will all fence in the team event beginning on Saturday.

“We have a great team this year and I think we can beat any team in the world. I’m just hoping that we come together and I know we’ll do well,” Dershwitz said.

Competition on Wednesday also included preliminary rounds for the junior men’s and women’s epee events.

In the women’s epee event, three-time Junior World Team member Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.) and first-timer Nina Van Loon (Boulder, Colo.) both advanced to the table of 32 on Thursday.

Holmes, who is seeking her first individual medal after winning silver in 2010 and bronze in 2012, finished the pools with a 5-0 record and a sixth seed in the table of 64.

The Princeton sophomore defeated Berta Pena (ESP), 15-12, after a bye through the table of 128 to move on to Thursday’s events.

Van Loon, a Harvard freshman, went 3-2 in the pools and won her two direct elimination bouts over Andree-Anne Paquet (CAN) and Hyewon Lee (KOR) by scores of 15-11 and 15-14, respectively.

Anna Van Brummen (Houston, Texas), a three-time Junior World Team member and Princeton freshman, went undefeated in the pools, but lost to Sera Song (KOR), 15-13, in the table of 64.

On Thursday, Holmes will fence Estonian Veronika Zuikova and Van Loon’s first bout will be against Auriane Mallo (FRA).

The junior men’s epee team included a trio of 18-year-olds who were each fencing at the Junior Worlds for the first time in a field of 146 athletes.

Although all three Americans advanced out of the pools and into the table of 128, only Lewis Weiss (Houston, Texas) will fence in the table of 32 on Thursday.

After a 4-2 result in the pools, Weiss defeated Ozan Uyanik (TUR), 15-9, in the table of 128 and Moustafa Ashraf (EGY), 15-6, in the 64.

On Thursday, Weiss will fence fourth seed Alvaro Ibanez (ESP) in the table of 32.

Conor Shepard (Colleyville, Texas) finished the pools at 3-2. His 63rd seed meant he would have to fence the table of 128, but he came away with a 15-14 win over Marc-Antoine Blais-Belanger (CAN). In the next round, however, Shepard lost to second seed Yulen Pereira (ESP), 15-7.

Alex House (Upton, Mass.) finished the pools with a 5-1 record, but lost to Yan Sych (UKR), 15-9, in the table of 128.

The Junior Worlds will continue on Thursday with the final rounds of the men’s and women’s epee events as well as the preliminary rounds of the men’s foil and women’s saber events.

Men’s foil and women’s saber fencers competing on Thursday are as follows:

Junior Men’s Foil
Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
Race Imboden (New York City, N.Y.)
Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)

Junior Women’s Saber
Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.)
Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.)

Click here to watch the action live on the FIE YouTube Channel. 


Click here for complete results


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


Junior Women’s Foil
1. Camilla Mancini (ITA)
2. Leyla Pirieva (RUS)
3. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
3. Francesca Palumbo (ITA)
5. Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.)
6. Julie Mienville (FRA)
7. Mona Shaito (LIB)
8. Jeromine Mpah-Njanga (FRA)


13. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)


Junior Men’s Saber
1. Kamil Ibragimov (RUS)
2. Andras Szatmari (HUN)
3. Francesco D’Armiento (ITA)
3. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
5. Sandro Bazadze (GE)
6. Shaul Gordon (CAN)
7. Ziqiu Zhou (CHN)
8. Jakub Ocinski (POL)


13. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)
22. Kaito Streets (Redwood City, Calif.)

Tag(s): News  Eli Dershwitz  Jackie Dubrovich  Lee Kiefer  Andrew Mackiewicz