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Zagunis and Wozniak Win Silver and Bronze at Gent Saber World Cup

02/24/2014, 7:15pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Gent World Cup medalists (L-R): Silver medalist Mariel Zagunis, gold medalist Olga Kharlan (UKR), and bronze medalists Dina Galiakbarova (RUS) and Dagmara Wozniak. Photo credit: Cathy Zagunis

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – London Olympians Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) and Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) led the United States a successful day of individual results on Saturday when the two claimed silver and bronze at the Gent Saber World Cup in Belgium.

In addition to Zagunis and Wozniak’s podium finishes, two-time Senior World team medalist Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) earned her first top-eight World Cup result in three years while 2013 Junior World Team Champions Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) and Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.) each finished in the top 16.

Seeded second in the tournament, Zagunis defeated Marta Baeza Centurion (BRA), 15-5, in the table of 64 and Alessandra Lucchino (ITA), 15-11, in the 32.

Zagunis would need two wins against her teammates to advance to the medal rounds.

In the table of 16, Zagunis defeated Palmedo, 15-10.

Fencing Zagunis for the second time this season, Schneider kept their quarter-final bout close, but Zagunis took the win, 15-13, to advance to the semifinals and secure her second international medal of the new season.

The bout was Schneider’s third against an American on Saturday and followed wins over 2013 Senior World team medalist Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), 15-14 in the table of 64, and 2009 Senior World Team member Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.), 15-5, in the 32.

A top-eight finisher at the 2012 Olympic Games, Wozniak was seeded 12th at the start of the competition and opened the event on Saturday with a 15-5 win over Marion Stoltz (FRA).

Wozniak won her table of 32 bout against 2013 Senior World Team Champion Olena Voronina (UKR), 15-11, and upset 2013 Senior World medalist Irene Vecchi (ITA), 15-13, in the table of 16.

Wozniak won her quarter-final bout against three-time Junior World medalist Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA), 15-11, to secure her fifth career individual World Cup medal.

In the semifinals, Wozniak trailed 2013 Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR), 8-6, at the break, but caught up to tie the bout at eight in the second period. Kharlan replied with a four-touch run to gain a 12-8 lead and went on to win the bout, 15-11.

The loss meant Wozniak would go home with a bronze medal at the same tournament in which she won her last individual World Cup medal – a silver in 2011.

Prior to this weekend, Zagunis split her last four bouts with her semifinal opponent, 2011 Senior World Team Champion Dina Galiakbarova (RUS), in 2013, but her most recent meetup with the Russian ended in a 15-0 shutout for Zagunis at the Tianjin Grand Prix last May.

This time, Zagunis controlled the bout from the start and earned a 15-11 victory to move on to the gold medal final against Kharlan who has been undefeated in individual competition since the 2013 Tianjin Grand Prix.

Zagunis appeared to be set to break that streak as she came out with a 7-4 lead early in the first period, but Kharlan scored four unanswered touches to hold an 8-7 lead at the break.

Although Zagunis kept the bout close in the second half, Kharlan finished strong with four of the last five touches and a 15-11 win.

The podium finishes for Wozniak and Zagunis meant that both fencers hold top-10 world rankings with Wozniak in ninth and Zagunis in second.

Russo earned her first Senior World Cup top-16 finish with a 12th place result.

In the table of 64, Russo won her first bout of the day with a 15-9 victory over 2003 Senior World medalist Ilaria Bianco (ITA) and went on to win her next bout, 15-14, against World No. 8 Azza Besbes (TUN).

Russo lost her next bout, 15-7, to 2003 Senior World medalist Aleksandra Socha (POL), but her successful weekend ensured Russo a position on her fourth straight Junior World Team where she will rejoin Palmedo and first-time Junior World Team member Gracie Stone (Chicago, Ill.) as Team USA attempts to defend its 2013 title.

A fourth athlete who will compete only in the team event at Junior Worlds, will be named at a later date.

Three-time Senior World team medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) finished in 21st place after a 15-13 win over Viktoriya Kovaleva (RUS) and a 15-10 loss to Caterina Navarria (ITA).

On Sunday, Zagunis, Wozniak, Muhammad and Russo returned to the strip for the team event.

Seeded second in the competition, the Americans earned a bye into the table of 16 where they defeated Kazakhstan, 45-30.

Team USA struggled with France in the quarter-finals. Zagunis held just a one-touch lead as she prepared to start her anchor bout and was outscored by Boudiaf who led France to a 45-41 victory.

The Americans rebounded from the loss by winning their next two matches against Hungary, 45-41, and Poland, 45-38.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Gent Individual Saber World Cup
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)

3. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)
5. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
6. Tamara Pochekutova (KAZ)
7. Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA)
8. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)

12. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
16. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
21. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
28. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)

70. Emma Keehan (Chandler, Ariz.)
72. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
115. Sophie Keehan (Chandler, Ariz.)
148. Lena Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)

Gent Team Saber World Cup
1. Russia
2. Italy
3. Ukraine
4. France
5. USA
6. Poland
7. Korea
8. Hungary

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