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Veteran Men’s Foil and Women’s Epee Teams Named on First Day of Summer Nationals in Columbus

06/29/2013, 10:15pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Eleven-time Veteran World Team member Bettie Graham and Coach Ray Finkleman.

(Columbus, Ohio) – The first day of competition at the USA Fencing National Championships was held on Friday with gold medals awarded in 10 events and 24 athletes qualifying to represent Team USA at the Veteran World Championships in Varna, Bulgaria in October.

Seventy-one-year-old Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.) has become a staple of the Veteran World Championship Team, but traveling the world with the stars and stripes on her back was never Graham’s intention when she first began competing more than a decade ago.

“It was one of those things that was always on my to-do list. One year I had two colleagues at work who lost their sons very young – one over Memorial Day weekend and one over Labor Day weekend – and I thought that you put off wanting to do things and it was a teachable moment because I realized you might not live to do them or, if you did, it might not be what you wanted it to be, so you built it up for nothing. Or you might not be able to do it for physical reason,” Graham said. “So there was a class starting that September at Chevy Chase and I had no idea what it was all about.”

What began as recreational classes and lessons turned into a competitive passion for Graham who began fencing in tournaments in 2000.

“After a couple years, [Coach] Ray [Finkleman] said ‘You really should go to these national events’ and I thought ‘That’s not what I came here to do. I really just thought that I’d fence and go home’ and so I went to the first one just to calm him and that’s the whole story,” Graham said.

Thirteen years later, Graham has gone from entering her first national event to representing Team USA 10 times at the Veteran World Championships for athletes ages 50 and older.

In 2011, Graham won her first Veteran World medal – a bronze in the +70 epee event in Porec, Croatia – at her ninth trip to the annual competition.

On Friday, Graham qualified for her 11th Veteran World Team.

Graham won her semifinal bout over her future teammate Catherine Radle (Suwanee, Ga.), 10-7, and fenced Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.) for gold.

Bedrosian, who has fenced at every Vet Worlds since 1999, tied the bout at three, but Graham couldn’t be stopped and scored seven straight touches to win the bout, 10-3.

“I felt I was a little more focused and I listened to what Ray told me to do.  I don’t always do that, but, when I do, it helps,” Graham laughed. “But it’s also luck. Your opponent also has their thoughts as to what they want to do.  It’s a combination of luck and skill and good coaching.”

This year will be the first time the Vet Worlds will be held in Bulgaria and Graham said the joy of representing her country never wears off.

“It’s always exciting. First, it’s a different country that I’ve never been to and you never know what’s going to happen, so you just do your best,” Graham said.

In Bulgaria, Graham’s +70 epee teammates will be first-time team member Radle; Bedrosian, who qualified for her 15th straight Veteran World Team; and National Championships bronze medalist Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.) who fences all three weapons, but won gold at the 2012 Veteran Worlds as a saber specialist.

Former Veteran World Champion Joseph Biebel (Bayside, Wis.) ended the 2012-2013 season with an undefeated record on Friday. Biebel, who won both the December and March NAC titles, won the national title in the veteran men’s 60-69 foil competition. After giving up no more than four touches in any of his first three bouts, Biebel led two-time Veteran World medalist Joseph Streb (Columbus, Ohio), 7-6, after the first period of their final bout in Streb’s hometown. Up 9-7 in the second period, Biebel was awarded a touch to win the bout, but the score was taken back after Streb requested video replay. Streb came back to score twice more and tie the bout at nine, but Biebel won the final exchange and the bout, 10-9.

Biebel and Streb both qualified for the 2013 Veteran World Team where they will be joined by bronze medalist Thomas Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.) and Heik Hambarzumian (Anaheim, Calif.) who did not compete in Columbus, but qualified for the Veteran World Team due to his bronze medal results at the December and March North American Cups as the best two of three domestic national event results during a season determine who qualifies for the team.

Both Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.) and Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas) are strong three-weapon fencers who have won Veteran World medals in foil competition. Sexton had secured his +70 foil team slot with a gold medal at the March NAC and a silver in December, but came to Columbus with the goal of winning his first National Championships title since 2010. Adams, who won bronze in the +70 foil competition at the 2012 Veteran Worlds, took a 7-3 lead during the first two minutes of the bout, but Sexton came back to tie the bout at seven. After Sexton took a 9-7 lead, it was Adams who scored three straight to win the bout.

Adams and Sexton earned the first two positions on the Veteran men’s +70 World Team. Bronze medalists Davis Carvey (Seattle, Wash.) and Marcel Miernik (Irvington, N.Y.) qualified for their second and ninth Veteran World Teams, respectively.

Fencing at his first Veteran Nationals, Henri Darricau (Littleton, Colo.), a 1984 Olympian for Lebanon, advanced to the veteran men’s 50-59 foil gold medal final against Ed Kaihatsu (Skokie, Ill.) and led the bout, 9-3, before Kaihatsu made an astounding comeback, scoring six unanswered touches to tie the bout at nine. Darricau closed out the bout, 10-9, to take gold.

Although Darricau was crowned the new National Champion in the event, his loss in the table of 16 at the March NAC meant he would fall short of qualifying for the Veteran World Team which will include Kaihatsu, Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.), Christopher Hagen (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) and Sam Jones (Round Rock, Texas).

In the veteran women’s epee 60-69 event, Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.) has been undefeated since moving up an age category after winning gold as a 59-year-old in 2011. Kocab, who already qualified for the Veteran World Team, after gold medal wins at the December and March NACs, was seeded first out of the pools and went on to defeat her former U.S. teammates, Deborah Theriault (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Bonnie Aher (Brookfield, Conn.), by scores of 10-3 and 10-5, respectively. Aher and bronze medalist Cynthia Runyon (Flagstaff, Ariz.) also qualified for the team. First-time team member Jann Ream (Iowa City, Iowa) earned the third position on the squad.

After earning top-eight and top-16 results at the last two NACs, Cristina Gordet (Somerville, Mass.) entered the veteran women’s 50-59 epee event with the knowledge that she would need a gold medal win to move up from her #6 ranking at the start of the tournament and qualify for her first Veteran World Team. Gordet did just that as she took out Mary Huang (Pasadena, Calif.), 10-7, in the final bout. All three of Gordet’s Veteran World teammates are first time U.S. team members as well with bronze medalist Amy Montoya (Las Vegas, Nev.), Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.) and Marcia Pierce (Richmond, Ky.) all qualifying for their first Veteran World Team.

Two veteran events were held in the 40-49 age groups which are not eligible for Veteran World competition.

Erica King (Brownstown, Mich.) outscored Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.), 7-6, in the veteran women’s 40-49 epee semifinals and advanced to the gold medal bout where she defeated Janine Powers (Troy, N.Y.), 10-3.

In the veteran men’s 40-49 competition, 2012 National Champion Levente Szego (Gaithersberg, Md.) successfully defended his title in Columbus. Michael Cho (Northville, Mich.) led the bout, 5-3, at the break, but Szego fought back to tie the bout at eight and won the text two points for a 10-8 victory.

Fencing at his first National Championships, 17-year-old Jason Lipton (San Rafael, Calif.) won gold in the Division III men’s epee event with a 15-11 final victory over 15-year-old Samuel Burman (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.) to place first in the 138-person competition.

In the Division II women’s foil event, Jocelyn Svengsouk (Rochester, N.Y.) defeated Teresa McBryan (Phoenix, Ariz.), 15-11, to win the gold medal final.

Competition continues on Saturday when the following events will be contested:

  • Veteran 40-49 Men’s Epee National Championships
  • Veteran 50-59 Men’s Epee National Championships
  • Veteran 60-69 Men’s Epee National Championships
  • Veteran +70 Men’s Epee National Championships
  • Veteran 40-49 Women’s Saber National Championships
  • Veteran 50-59 Women’s Saber National Championships
  • Veteran 60-69 Women’s Saber National Championships
  • Veteran +70 Women’s Saber National Championships
  • Division II Men’s Saber National Championships
  • Division II Women’s Epee National Championships
  • Division III Women’s Foil National Championships
  • Veteran Men’s Team Foil July North American Cup
  • Veteran Women’s Team Epee July North American Cup

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight results are as follows:

Veteran Women’s 40-49 Epee
1. Erica King (Brownstown, Mich.)
2. Janine Powers (Troy, N.Y.)
3. Carola Schmid (Seattle, Wash.)
3. Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.)
5. Sally Gifford (Washington, D.C.)
6. Jennifer Devore (Seattle, Wash.)
7. Dawn Lorentson (New Haven, Conn.)
8. Maria Copelan (Portland, Ore.)

Veteran Women’s 50-59 Epee
1. Cristina Gordet (Somerville, Mass.)
2. Mary Huang (Pasadena, Calif.)
3. Rosanna Lacarra (Carlsbad, Calif.)
3. Amy Montoya (Las Vegas, Nev.)
5. Cynthia Glover (Seattle, Wash.)
6. Janice Midgley (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
7. Deborah Bratsko (Pennington, N.J.)
8. Dianna McMenamin (South Hadley, Mass.)

Veteran Women’s 60-69 Epee
1. Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
2. Bonnie Aher (Brookline, Conn.)
3. Deborah Theriault (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
3. Cynthia Runyon (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
5. Anna Telles (Seattle, Wash.)
6. Jann Ream (Iowa City, Iowa)
7. Henri Gales (Greensboro, N.C.)
8. Cindy Allen (Danbury, Conn.)

Veteran Women’s +70 Epee
1. Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.)
2. Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.)
3. Catherine Radle (Suwanee, Ga.)
3. Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)

Veteran Men’s 40-49 Foil
1. Levente Szego (Gaithersberg, Md.)
2. Michael Cho (Northville, Mich.)
3. Julio Diaz (Lilburn, Ga.)
3. John Kissingford (Denver, Colo.)
5. Don Davis (Clarksville, Md.)
6. Tim Mills (Westerville, Ohio)
7. Kashi Way (Rockville, Md.)
8. Leon Sanchez (Boston, Mass.)

Veteran Men’s 50-59 Foil
1. Henri Darricau (Littleton, Colo.)
2. Edward Kaihatsu (Skokie, Ill.)
3. Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. David Johanson (Lakewood, Colo.)
5. Dale Svihl (Haslings, Mich.)
6. Philippe Bennett (New York City, N.Y.)
7. David Drake (San Diego, Calif.)
8. Norm Mattox (San Francisco, Calif.)

Veteran Men’s 60-69 Foil
1. Joseph Biebel (Bayside, Wis.)
2. Joseph Streb (Columbus, Ohio)
3. Thomas Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.)
3. Gyula Schreiber (Honolulu, Hawaii)
5. Dan McCarthy (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
6. Marek Piatkowski-Navarro (Pasadena, Calif.)
7. Jan Patterson (Seattle, Wash.)
8. Dan Vance (Milford, Ohio)

Veteran Men’s +70 Foil
1. Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
2. Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas)
3. Marcel Miernik (Irvington, N.Y.)
3. Davis Carvey (Seattle, Wash.)
5. Fritz Chang (Lexington, Mass.)
6. Earl Shapiro (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
7. Stanfield Hill (Albany, N.Y.)
8. Allen Barwick Jr. (Potomac, Md.)

Division II Women’s Foil
1. Jocelyn Svengsouk (Rochester, N.Y.)
2. Teresa McBryan (Phoenix, Ariz.)
3. Tracey Napoli (Flemington, N.J.)
3. Emily Jiang (Ardsley, N.Y.)
5. Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.)
6. Kate Dusinberre (Dover, N.H.)
7. Jessenia Zambrano (New York City, N.Y.)
8. Angela Zhang (Setaucket, N.Y.)

Division III Men’s Epee
1. Jason Lipton (San Rafael, Calif.)
2. Samuel Burman (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)
3. David Krakaur (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Zeno Doeleman (South Hadley, Mass.)
5. Avery Vella (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. David Exume (Lawrenceville, N.J.)
7. Patrick Wang (Berkeley, Calif.)
8. Stuart Holmes (Centereach, N.Y.)

Athletes selected for Veteran World Teams are as follows:

Veteran Men’s 50-59 Foil World Team
Edward Kaihatsu (Skokie, Ill.)
Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Sam Jones (Round Rock, Texas)
ALT 1: Norm Mattox (San Francisco, Calif.)
ALT 2: Henri Darricau (Littleton, Colo.)
ALT 3: Ron Daugherty (St. Louis, Mo.)
ALT 4: Philippe Bennett (New York City, N.Y.)

Veteran Men’s 60-69 Foil World Team
Joseph Biebel (Bayside, Wis.)
Thomas Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.)
Joseph Streb (Columbus, Ohio)
Heik Hambarzumian (Anaheim, Calif.)
ALT 1: Jan Patterson (Seattle, Wash.)
ALT 2: Neal White (Chicago, Ill.)
ALT 3: Bruce Milligan (Savage, Md.)
ALT 4: Daniel McCarthy (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)

Veteran Men’s +70 Foil World Team
Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas)
Davis Carvey (Seattle, Wash.)
Marcel Miernik (Irvington, N.Y.)
ALT 1: Fritz Chang (Lexington, Mass.)
ALT 2: Earl Shapiro (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
ALT 3: Edward Sady (Fairfax, Va.)
ALT 4: Lucas Dobrzanski (Bakersfield, Calif.)

Veteran Women’s 50-59 Epee World Team
Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.)
Amy Montoya (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Marcia Pierce (Richmond, Ky.)
Cristina Gordet (Somerville, Mass.)
ALT 1: Dianna McMenamin (South Hadley, Mass.)
ALT 2: Valerie Asher (Bethesda, Md.)
ALT 3: Mary Huang (Pasadena, Calif.)
ALT 4: Rosanna Lacarra Carlsbad, Calif.)

Veteran Women’s 60-69 Epee World Team
Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
Bonnie Aher (Brookline, Conn.)
Cynthia Runyon (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
Jann Ream (Iowa City, Iowa)
ALT 1: Deborah Theriault (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
ALT 2: Diane Kallus (Round Rock, Texas)
ALT 3: Anna Telles (Seattle, Wash.)
ALT 4: Anna Estrada (San Francisco, Calif.)

Veteran Women’s +70 Epee World Team
Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.)
Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.)
Catherine Radle (Suwanee, Ga.)
Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)
ALT 1: Diane Reckling (White Plains, N.Y.)

Tag(s): News  Valerie Asher  Joseph Streb  Ellen O'Leary