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Yefremenko, Scruggs and Chin Win Gold at the Junior Olympics in Portland

02/16/2014, 10:15pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Dasha Yefremenko (right) won gold in the junior women's epee competition. Photo credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Portland, Ore.) – Fourteen-year-old Dasha Yefremenko (Manalapan, N.J.) became one of the youngest athletes ever to win a U20 title at the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships when she took gold in the junior women’s epee event at the Oregon Convention Center.

Seeded 15th out of the pools, Yefremenko defeated Emma Scala (Washington, D.C.), 15-5, in the table of 128 and Lena Kunjan (Sunnyvale, Calif.), 15-12, in the 64.

Yefremenko’s table of 32 opponent was Giana Vierheller (Houston, Texas) who was fencing for a chance to qualify for a position on the Cadet World Championship Team. Yefremenko won their bout, 15-12, and Vierheller will await her qualification fate until after the cadet competition on Monday.  

In the table of 16, Yefremenko defeated Nicole Agob (Azusa, Calif.), 15-11, to advance to her first Junior Olympic quarter-final.

Pauline Hamilton (Colorado Springs, Colo.) held a 14-13 lead over Yefremenko in the quarters, but Yefremenko scored two singles to steal the win, 15-14.

“It was extremely scary. Everyone was on edge, but those are the times when you have to concentrate the most and I was able to do that, so I was happy,” Yefremenko said.

She moved on to the medal rounds and earned a 15-10 semifinal victory over Columbia freshman Mason Speta (Chicago, Ill.)

Yefremenko trailed Ally Ryf (Houston, Texas), 9-7, after the first period, but tied the bout at 10 during the second.  After a double touch, Ryf took the lead with a single for a score of 12-11. The fencers doubled for the next touch and Yefremenko broadened her lead with another single. One score away from the victory, Yefremenko doubled to win the bout, 15-13.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s a little shocking. Because I’m 14, juniors isn’t my main event and I just wanted to do whatever I could. The more and more I fenced, though, the more I thought ‘You know what? I can actually do this!’ Yefremenko said.

Four athletes were named to the women’s epee team that will compete at the 2014 Junior World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in April, based on their positions in the National Team Point Standings. Princeton sophomore Anna Van Brummen (Houston, Texas) will fence at her fourth straight Junior Worlds with two of her past teammates – Harvard sophomore Nina Van Loon (Boulder, Colo.) who placed fourth with Van Brummen in the team competition in 2013 and Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.) who fenced at the Cadet Worlds in 2013. The first alternate, Speta, will compete in the team event as the squad’s fourth athlete.

With a position on the Cadet World Team on the line, the cadet men’s foil competition began with five athletes battling through a field of nearly 200 opponents for a position on the squad.

George Haglund (Califon, N.J.) locked down a position on his first Cadet World Team earlier this month when he won gold at the Pisa Cadet European Cup to hold on to the No. 1 spot in the national team standings which left two remaining positions for the team that will be named at the conclusion of the junior competition on Monday.

A bronze medalist at the Budapest Cadet European Cup in the fall, Nolen Scruggs (Ozone Park, N.Y.) began the weekend seventh in the team standings and needed a podium finish to have a chance at qualifying for his first Cadet World Team.

Scruggs earned a bye into the table of 128 where he defeated Matthew Moyer (Los Angeles, Calif.), 15-6.

After a 15-7 win against Dillon Cooke (Yonkers, N.Y.), Scruggs took on Jarred Gou (Saratoga, Calif.) – the No. 2 fencer in the national team standings and one of Scruggs’ top opponents for a position on the Cadet World Team.

Scruggs won the bout against Gou, 15-7, and defeated Umar Massood (Pittsford, N.Y.), 15-11, in the next round.

Scruggs took a 15-11 win against Brian Howard (Petaluma, Calif.) in the quarters and took sixth-ranked Matthew Branman (Villanova, Pa.) out of Cadet Worlds contention with a 15-14 victory in the semifinals. 

In the gold medal final, Scruggs fenced Sam Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.) who began the tournament fourth in the rankings and could move up to third with a gold medal win.

With the scored tied at three touches each, Scruggs went on a 5-2 run to take a five-touch lead at the break.

Taking advice from his coach to be more defensive, Scruggs grew his lead to six and a score of 13-7 early in the second period. Moelis whittled the gap down to two touches as he scored four straight to take the score to 13-11.

Scruggs scored once more before the break and finished the bout in the first minute of the third period with a 15-11 win.

The victory moved Scruggs from seventh to sixth in the point standings with one more event left before team selection – the junior competition on Monday. 

Although the pressure was on for Scruggs and his potential future teammates, he noted that he tried to avoid thinking about qualification during the day.

“I tried not to. I can’t help but think of it, but I know it’s best to focus on the task at hand. When you think of things like statistics and stuff, it gets away from the essence of the sport,” he said. 

A top-eight finisher in both the junior and cadet events at the 2013 Junior Olympics, Eddie Chin (Livingston, N.J.) won his first gold medal in the junior men’s saber event on Saturday.

Seeded sixth out of the pools, Chin earned a bye into the table of 64 where he defeated Philippe Guy (San Diego, Calif.), 15-10.

Chin defeated Andy Sun (Alpharetta, Ga.), 15-11, in the table of 32 and Alex Walker (Atlanta, Ga.), 15-5, in the 16.

After a 15-10 win against Isaac Buchwald (San Carlos, Calif.), Chin defeated Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.), 15-7.

In the gold medal final, Chin was tied at three with 2012 Junior World Team member Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.), but scored five of the next six touches to take an 8-4 lead at the break.

Costin came within a touch of Chin in the second period as he scored three straight to take the score to 13-12.

Costin scored a 13th touch which was changed to a touch for Chin who requested a medical timeout.

After the timeout, Costin scored the next two touches to tie the bout at 14. The next two exchanges were called as simultaneous attacks before Chin took the winning score and won the bout, 15-14.

There is one more remaining qualifying event for the Junior Men’s Saber World Team – the Budapest Junior World Cup – which will be named on Feb. 24.

Competitions were held in two team events on Saturday – junior women’s foil and junior men’s team epee.

Fencing Academy of Westchester Team won the women’s gold medal foil final match against San Francisco Fencers Club by a score of 45-34.

FAW’s second team took bronze with a 45-29 win over MVP.

Like FAW in women’s team foil, Alliance Fencing Academy had two teams on the podium in the men’s epee competition.

Alliance Fencing Academy 1 defeated Windy City Fencing 1, 45-35, for gold while Alliance Fencing Academy 3 won the bronze medal match against Northern Colorado Fencers, 45-39.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight results are as follows:

Junior Women’s Epee
1. Dasha Yefremenko (Manalapan, N.J.)
2. Ally Ryf (Houston, Texas)
3. Charlene Liu (Bridgewater, N.J.)
3. Mason Speta (Chicago, Ill.)
5. Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)
6. Saanchi Kukadia (Manhasset, N.Y.)
7. Isabel Ford (Salem, Ore.)
8. Pauline Hamilton (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Junior Men’s Saber
1. Edward Chin (Livingston, N.J.)
2. Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.)
3. Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.)
3. Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.)
5. Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.)
6. Isaac Buchwald (San Carlos, Calif.)
7. Jonathan Fitzgerald (East Brunswick, N.J.)
8. John Hallsten (Sacramento, Calif.)

Cadet Men’s Foil
1. Nolen Scruggs (Ozone Park, N.Y.)
2. Sam Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.)
3. Matthew Branman (Califon, N.J.)
3. Aaron Ahn (Los Angeles, Calif.)
5. Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.)
6. Brian Howard (Petaluma, Calif.)
7. Jared Dans (Merrick, N.Y.)
8. Justin Kang (Fullerton, Calif.)

Junior Women’s Team Foil
1. FAW Team
4. MVP
5. Gold Fencing Club
6. GRAFA Girls
7. NWFC Avengers
8. NWFC 2

Junior Men’s Team Epee
1. Alliance Fencing Academy 1
2. Windy City Fencing 1
3. Alliance Fencing Academy 3
4. Northern Colorado Fencers
5. G-Unit
6. Alliance Fencing Academy 2
7. NWFC 1
8. Two and a Half Asians

The roster for the Junior Women’s Epee World Team that was named on Saturday from the National Team Point Standings is as follows:

Junior Women’s Epee World Team
Anna Van Brummen (Houston, Texas)
Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.)
Nina Van Loon (Boulder, Colo.)
ALT 1: Mason Speta (Chicago, Ill.)
ALT 2: Charlene Liu (Bridgewater, N.J.)
ALT 3: Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Tag(s): News  Geoffrey Tourette