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Cochrane Overcomes Cancer to Qualify for Veteran Worlds

07/02/2013, 4:15pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Veteran Men’s Epee and Women’s Saber Teams Named in Columbus

(Columbus, Ohio) – There are dozens of things you don’t want to happen when you’re on a fencing strip. 

Bob Cochrane (Lake Worth, Fla.) can tell you that becoming rapidly tired while someone is charging at you with an epee is high on that list.

For nearly two-years, the now-64-year-old says he says he didn’t feel quite right. And the doctors agreed that there was a problem, but what it was remained a mystery.

“I was getting really tired. My blood count was going down and no one knew why,” Cochrane said.

In November, the man who had competed at 12 Veteran World Championships where he won two medals was forced to stop training.

But, in spite of his medical issues, Cochrane still had the desire to qualify for another Vet World Team and the process began last December with the North American Cup in Milwaukee.

“I stopped working out in November. I did fence the December NAC, but I was extremely tired the whole time. And my tiredness isn’t linear, it’s instantaneous, so I’d be fencing and all of a sudden I’d get really tired in the middle of a bout,” he said. 

Cochrane pulled off a bronze medal win in Milwaukee – a testament to his natural talent – and soon the doctors found the culprit of his problems: kidney cancer.

“After seeing multiple doctors and different specialists, they finally took a scan and found a mass on my kidney,” Cochrane said.

Ever the athlete, Cochrane scheduled his surgery for two days after the March NAC – the second qualifying tournament for Vet Worlds.

“I was trying to see if I could make it to the March NAC, but it’s cross country and I kept trying to figure out if I could fly there, fence and then come right back with no training. But that wasn’t going to work,” Cochrane laughed.

Although the diagnosis was grim, Cochrane’s surgical team felt removing one of his kidney’s would rid him of the cancer.

The doctors were right and Cochrane rebounded back to normal.

“They went in and removed the kidney and the cancer was all self-contained, so the cancer’s gone and my energy came right back. Within two weeks my energy level shot right back again,” Cochrane said.

But how long would it take before he could fence again?

16 days.

“I went in for my two-week appointment at 16 days and asked my doctor if I could fence. He said I could do whatever I wanted as long as I was up to it, so I went back that night,” he said. “I fenced one bout that night and then I just started adding bouts and started taking lessons again and then went back to the gym.”

Just over three months after having a kidney removed, Cochrane was back in competition on Saturday at the USA Fencing National Columbus.

With his bronze medal from December, Cochrane was still in contention for the Veteran World Team in the men’s 60-69 epee event as long as he returned to the podium.

But Cochrane didn’t just want to qualify. He was determined to win the tournament.

Cochrane dropped just one bout in the pools to earn a seventh seed in the table of 32.

After 10-5 victories over Paul Brown (New Orleans, La.) and Arkady Nizberg (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Cochrane secured a medal with a 10-7 quarter-final win against William Schroeder (Rockville, Md.)

“Pretty good for a guy with one kidney,” Cochrane joked after the win. “I’m coming back off an injury and I feel fantastic. I got back in shape and I tried to play a game that I used to play and it all started working.  I wanted to continue playing the way I had all day. He’s got a great pick. He got my arm, my leg a couple times when I overcommitted on some of the attacks and he just nailed me. I was behind three touches at one time and then I started playing my game again and I made him stretch a couple attacks and then I scored a couple touches on him. So I just kept stretching him out and stretching him out and pulling him deeper and deeper.”

Cochrane will compete at the Veteran Worlds in Varna, Bulgaria with teammates Daryl Taylor (Los  Angeles, Calif.), Drew Ridge (Warminster, Pa.), and Jere Bothelio (San Jose, Calif.)

“My hope for Bulgaria is to fence better than last year. I was so tired and my first two bouts were just wrong. The coach who was there was a great coach and he kept telling me to relax, but that doesn’t work for me. Somebody mentioned the word play, though, and that reminded me of something someone said once at a clinic. They asked ‘How does Bob fence’ and he said ‘He likes to play with his food’ and all of a sudden I remembered ‘I play with my food. I don’t go out there and charge. I play with you.’ I was doing some of that today. I didn’t go out there and charge. I didn’t take every opening I saw. Sometimes I’d just wait and play a little bit,” Cochrane said.

One of Cochrane’s teammates on many of his past Veteran World Teams is 59-year-old saber fencer Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.)

For Eyre, one would think that with eight National Championships and a gold medal at the March NAC to her credit at the start of this event that there would be less pressure.

One would be wrong.

Due to an international rule change regarding age eligibility, the two-time Veteran World Champion’s  50-59 saber title from the December NAC wouldn’t count towards 2013 Veteran World Team qualification and so the best-two-of-three results selection criteria would mean best-of-two for Eyre.

“Moving up was a little traumatic because, in terms of the rankings, I lost the gold medal I won in Milwaukee in the 50s and I knew I had to do well in March and here. I don’t like knowing I have to do well because it makes everything harder when you know you need a certain result to qualify,” Eyre said.

In addition to the pressure Eyre felt to finish strong in order to qualify for Team USA, her status as first-year fencer in the new age bracket gave Eyre a low seed at the start and put her in a pool against Delia Turner (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Turner won the five-touch bout, 5-1, which gave Eyre a fourth seed in the direct elimination tables. After a 10-2 win over Annie Mannino (Lebanon, N.J.), Eyre and Turner faced off in the semifinals. Up 5-3 at the break, Eyre held onto the lead to defeat Turner, 10-7.

In the gold medal final, Turner led 2012 Veteran World medalist Linda Dunn (Indianapolis, Ind.), 5-3, at the break and gave up just one more touch to win the bout, 10-4.

“I haven’t had lessons recently and so I didn’t feel prepared, but I pulled it off,” Eyre said after the bout. “I plan to be very prepared by Bulgaria and I’m very excited. I’ll definitely have a lot of coaching and training beforehand.”

Team USA’s veteran 60-69 squad is expected to be one of the strongest in the world as all four athletes are returning medalists. Eyre, Turner and Dunn will be joined by Jeannine Bender (Princeton, N.J.) who moved up to the 60-69 category after winning the 50-59 bronze at the 2012 Veteran Worlds.

The veteran women’s 50-59 saber competition came down to a semifinal battle between 2011 Veteran World medalist Lydia Mazorol (Simi Valley, Calif.) and 2012 Vet World medalist Chaz Smith (Diamond Springs, Calif.) Mazorol won the bout, 10-5, but both athletes qualified for the 2013 Vet World Team. Bronze medalist Robin Pernice (Carlisle, Mass.) qualified for her first Vet World Team and Heidi Runyan (San Diego, Calif.) will fence on her third team.

In veteran women’s +70 saber, Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.) will return to defend her 2012 Veteran World title. A six-time medalist in the 60-69 and +60 events, O’Leary won her first gold after moving up to +70 last year.  After a bye in the first round, O’Leary defeated Louisa Felty (Louisville, Ky.), 10-3, in the gold medal final. Una Jackson (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) took bronze. O’Leary, Felty, Jackson and Sherry Green (Portland, Ore.) will represent Team USA in Bulgaria. Green did not compete in Columbus, but qualified through her silver medal finishes at both the March and December NACs.

Dick Richards (Burtonsville, Md.) won the veteran men’s 50-59 epee competition, but fell just five ranking points shy of qualifying for his first Veteran World Team. Richards, who placed 14th at the March NAC and eighth in December, came into the tournament ranked seventh in the team standings. After three opening bout wins, Richards edged Mark Segal (Upland, Calif.), 7-6, in the gold medal final. Richards and Segal would finish as the first and second team alternates in the standings. Bronze medalists Timothy Glass (Deerfield, Ill.), who won silver in December, and Frank Van Dyke (Las Vegas, Nev.), who repeated his bronze from March, qualified for the team alongside Sean Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.) – a 2011 Veteran World Team member and March NAC Champion – and Michael Perka (Mountain View, Calif.) who finished sixth in Columbus, but won gold in December.

At 76-years-old, Kaz Campe (Edgewater, Md.) is expected to be one of the oldest members of the Veteran World Team. The former Veteran World Champion has fenced epee on 11 Veteran World Teams – nine of which were with his teammate Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas). The long-time rivals have been in and out of age categories together as Sexton just moved up to +70 this season, but the two fenced in the gold medal final on Saturday. Sexton took a 7-6 lead at the break, but Campe scored two singles to set the score at 8-7. The fencers exchanged touches with Campe scoring the final single to take the bout, 10-9. Campe and Sexton qualified for their 12th and 15th Veteran World Teams, respectively, and will be joined by Peter Calderon (Plainsboro, N.J.) and Marcel Miernik (Irvington, N.Y.) who qualified for the foil squad on Friday.

National titles were awarded in the women’s 40-49 saber and men’s 50-59 epee competitions, although the 40-40 age group is not contested at the Veteran Worlds.

Fencing in both her first Veteran National Championship and her hometown, Julia Richey (Westerville, Ohio) won gold in the 40-49 women’s saber competition. Richey jumped out to a 5-1 lead over Mary Wilkerson (Denver, Colo.) at the break and gave up just three touches in the second period to win the bout, 15-10.

A 2000 Olympian in modern pentathlon, Velizar Iliev (San Antonio, Texas) returned to the top of the podium in the veteran men’s 40-49 event after winning Nationals in 2010. Iliev dominated his bout against David Hitchcock (Purceville, Va.) to win gold, 10-2.

In the Division III women’s foil competition, Isabelle Elizondo (Cypress, Texas) defeated Klarissa Armanda (Valley Cottage, N.Y.), 15-11, to win gold in a field of 136 competitors.

Former Ohio State fencer Joe Streb Jr. (Columbus, Ohio) earned his first National Championship title in front of a hometown crowd in the Division II men’s saber competition. Streb, whose father qualified for the Veteran World Team at this event on Friday, defeated Marc Mendoza (Escondido, Calif.), 15-8, in the semifinals and was awarded gold after his opponent, Walter Musgrave (Escondido, Calif.), withdrew from the tournament.

Fencing in the Division II National Championships for the first time, Dariya Yefremenko (Manalapan, N.J.) won the women’s epee event with a 13-8 victory over Erica King Brownstown, Mich.) in the final individual bout of the evening.

In addition to the National Championships, events throughout the week are being held in the July North American Cup, including all veteran team events.

Representing the Rockville Fencing Academy, East Side Story won the veteran men’s team foil title for the fourth straight year. Led by Levente Szego (Gaithersberg, Md.), the two-time reigning veteran men’s 40-49 individual champion, the team of Szego, Brad Cellier (Worthington, Pa.), Don Davis (Clarksville, Md.) and Stephen Gross (Fairfax, Va.) took on Lamichagolanta Fencers – a team comprised of fencers who train around the nation. Jokingly referred to as the “Dream Team,” by their opponents, Lamichagolanta includes 2013 Veteran World teammates Ed Kaihatsu (Skokie, Ill.) and Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.) as well as former Veteran 40-49 NAC medalists Michael Cho (Northville, Mich.) and Julio Diaz (Lilburn, Ga.) East Side Story led the gold medal final from start to finish with Davis coming in as anchor to outscore Cho, 9-6, for a 45-34 victory.

New York Fencers Club won the bronze medal match, 45-43, over Fencing Sports Academy.

The veteran women’s team epee event came down to a gold medal match between Northwest Fencing Center I and Three Needles. Anchored by Maria Copelan (Portland, Ore.), NWFC 1 included 2013 Veteran World Team member Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.), Trish Brown (Scappoose, Ore.) and Carrie Warlaumont (Portland, Ore.) NWFC 1 kept the score low with Warlaumont blanking both of her bouts against Marcia Pierce (Richmond, Ky.) and Ellen Finnegan (West Roxbury, Mass.) Although Three Needles led the bout, 14-10, after the seventh bout, Ford picked up two against Pierce in the eighth to cut Three Needles’s lead to 14-12. In the final bout, Copelan outscored 2011 Veteran World Champion Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.), 5-2, to give NWFC I the gold by a score of 17-16.

In the bronze medal match, the Northeasters defeated the West Coast Tsunami, 45-36.

Competition continues on Sunday with the following events:

8:30 a.m.
Division II Men’s Epee National Championships
Division III Men’s Foil National Championships
Division III Women’s Saber National Championships

11 a.m.
Veteran Men’s 60-69 Saber National Championships
Veteran Men’s +70 Saber National Championships

12:30 p.m.
Veteran Team Women’s Saber

1:30 p.m.
Veteran Women’s 40-49 Foil
Veteran Women’s 60-69 Foil
Veteran Women’s +70 Foil
Division IA Women’s Epee

2 p.m.
Veteran Men’s 40-49 Saber
Veteran Men’s 50-59 Saber

3:30 p.m.
Veteran Men’s Team Epee

Top eight results are as follows:

Veteran Women’s Team Epee July NAC
2. Three Needles
3. Northeasters
4. West Coast Tsunami
5. FAN
6. Salle Auriol Seattle 1
7. Candlewood Coyotes
8. The District

Veteran Men’s Team Foil July NAC
1. East Side Story
2. Lamichagolanta Fencers
3. NY Fencers Club
4. Fencing Sports Academy
5. Denver Fencing Center (past and present)
6. Men of Steel
7. Wisconsin Veterans Composite
8. Fencer’s Club of Arizona

Division II Men’s Saber National Championships
1. Joe Streb Jr. (Columbus, Ohio)
2. Walter Musgrave (Escondido, Calif.)
3. Marc Mendoza (Escondido, Calif.)
3. Josef Cohen (Jamestown, R.I.)
5. Andy Wiseman (Portland, Ore.)
6. Logan Spear (West Linn, Ore.)
7. Ariel Croitoru (Aventura, Fla.)
8. Michael Leung (Plainsboro, N.J.)

Division II Women’s Epee National Championships
1. Dariya Yefremenko (Manalapan, N.J.)
2. Erica King (Brownstown, Mich.)
3. Helen Landwehr (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
3. Bailey Partridge (Swansea, Mass.)
5. Casey Lee (Lafayette, Calif.)
6. Ashely Hahn (Bernardsville, N.J.)
7. Alissa Hofmann (Cambridge, Mass.)
8. Sarah Timmons (West Des Moines, Iowa)

Division III Women’s Foil National Championships
1. Isabelle Elizondo (Cypress, Texas)
2. Klarissa Armada (Valley Cottage, N.Y.)
3. Sofia Simontov (Seattle, Wash.)
3. Amy Jia (Houston, Texas)
5. Julia Telischi (Miami, Fla.)
6. Angela Zhang (Setaucket, N.J.)
7. Emma MacDuff (Kirkland, Wash.)
8. Camille Pham (Maplewood, N.J.)

Veteran Men’s 40-49 Epee National Championships
1. Velizar Iliev (San Antonio, Texas)
2. David Hitchock (Purceville, Va.)
3. Max Chernyshov (Yardley, Pa.)
3. Geoffrey Russell (Monrovia, Calif.)
5. Kashi Way (Rockville, Md.)
6. Sergey Suponya (East Brunswick, N.J.)
7. Jon Magner (Vista, Calif.)
8. David St. George (Lake Villa, Ill.)

Veteran Men’s 50-59 Epee National Championships
1. Dick Richards (Burtonsville, Md.)
2. Mark Segal (Upland, Calif.)
3. Frank Van Dyke (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Timothy Glass (Deerfield, Ill.)
5. Patric Wallace (Mendham, N.J.)
6. Michael Perka (Mountain View, Calif.)
7. John Lartz (Winnetka, Ill.)
8. Rob Radanovich (Tollhouse, Calif.)

Veteran Men’s 60-69 Epee National Championships
1. Bob Cochrane Jr. (Lake Worth, Fla.)
2. Gary Linton (North Venice, Fla.)
3. Drew Ridge (Warminster, Pa.)
3. Daryl Taylor (Los Angeles, Calif.)
5. Michael McDarby (Fort Johnson, N.Y.)
6. Theodore Pary (Highland, Md.)
7. William Schroeder (Rockville, Md.)
8. William Walker (Redwood City, Calif.)

Veteran Men’s +70 Epee National Championships
1. Kazimieras Campe (Edgewater, Md.)
2. Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas)
3. Mark Henry (Potomac, Md.)
3. Peter Calderon (Plainsboro, N.J.)
5. Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
6. John McGrew (San Ramon, Calif.)
7. Barry Leonardini (San Francisco, Calif.)
8. Donald Penner (Vaughn, Wash.)

Veteran Women’s 40-49 Saber National Championships
1. Julia Richey (Westerville, Ohio)
2. Mary Wilkerson (Denver, Colo.)
3. Cynthia Villyard (Albuquerque, N.M.)
3. Dawn Wilson (Louisville, Ky.)
5. Cathleen Randall (Watertown, Mass.)
6. Natalia Oblonsky (New York City, N.Y.)
7. Sandra Lince (Seattle, Wash.)
8. Jennifer Beach (Aurora, Colo.)

Veteran Women’s 50-59 Saber National Championships
1. Lydia Mazorol (Simi Valley, Calif.)
2. Chaz Smith (Diamond Springs, Calif.)
3. Rita Comes (Palo Alto, Calif.)
3. Robin Pernice (Carlisle, Mass.)
5. Heidi Runyan (San Diego, Calif.)
6. Natalie Whitson (Eugene, Ore.)
7. Beth Vance (Clarkston, Mich.)
8. Toni Waymire (Fishers, Ind.)

Veteran Women’s 60-69 Saber National Championships
1. Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.)
2. Linda Dunn (Indianapolis, Ind.)
3. Delia Turner (Philadelphia, Pa.)
3. Jude Offerle (Winnetka, Ill.)
5. Annie Mannino (Lebanon, N.J.)
6. Diane Hiatt (Sparks, Nev.)
7. Paula Smith (Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
8. Dede Deane (Richmond, Va.)

Veteran Women’s +70 Saber National Championships
1. Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)
2. Louisa Felty (Louisville, Ky.)
3. Una Jackson (Hilton Head, S.C.)

Veteran World Team results are as follows:

Veteran Men’s 50-59 Epee World Team
Timothy Glass (Deerfield, Ill.)
Sean Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Frank Van Dyke (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Michael Perka (Mountain View, Calif.)
ALT 1: Dick Richards (Burtonsville, Md.)
ALT 2: Mark Segal (Upland, Calif.)
ALT 3: Rob Radanovich (Tollhouse, Calif.)
ALT 4: William Gelnaw (Fullerton, Calif.)

Veteran Men’s 60-69 Epee Team
Daryl Taylor (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Drew Ridge (Warminster, Pa.)
Robert Cochrane Jr. (Lake Worth, Fla.)
Jere Bothelio (San Jose, Calif.)
ALT 1: Gary Linton (North Venice, Fla.)
ALT 2: Arnold Messing (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
ALT 3: William Walker (Redwood City, Calif.)
ALT 4: Theo Pary (Highland, Md.)

Veteran Men’s Epee +70 World Team
Kazimieras Campe (Edgewater, Md.)
Ray Sexton (Round Rock, Texas)
Peter Calderon (Plainsboro, N.J.)
Marcel Miernik (Irvington, N.Y.)
ALT 1: Mark Henry (Potomac, Md.)
ALT 2: Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
ALT 3: Barry Leonardini (San Francisco, Calif.)
ALT 4: John McGrew (San Ramon, Calif.)

Veteran Women’s 50-59 Saber
Lydia Mazorol (Simi Valley, Calif.)
Chaz Smith (Diamond Springs, Calif.)
Robin Pernice (Carlisle, Mass.)
Heidi Runyan (San Diego, Calif.)
ALT 1: Rita Comes (Palo Alto, Calif.)
ALT 2: Beth Vance (Clarkston, Mich.)
ALT 3: Robin King (Seattle, Wash.)
ALT 4: Toni Waymire (Fishers, Ind.)

Veteran Women’s 60-69 Saber Team
Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.)
Delia Turner (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Jeannine Bender (Princeton, N.J.)
Linda Dunn (Indianapolis, Ind.)
ALT 1: Judith Offerle (Winnetka, Ill.)
ALT 2: Anna Mannino (Lebanon, N.J.)
ALT 3: Diane Hiatt (Sparks, Nev.)
ALT 4: Dede Deane (Richmond, Va.)

Veteran Women’s +70 Saber Team
Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)
Sherry Green (Portland, Ore.)
Louisa Felty (Louisville, Ky.)
Una Jackson (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)
ALT 1: Anita Anderson (Citrus Heights, Calif.)

Tag(s): News  Jane Eyre  Robin Pernice  Linda J. Dunn  Ellen O'Leary