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Team USA Wins Gold, Earns Three Individual Top-Eight Saber Finishes in Antalya

03/17/2014, 7:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Gold medalists Eliza Stone, Dagmara Wozniak, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Mariel Zagunis with Coach Ed Korfanty. Photo Credit: Cathy Zagunis

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The U.S. Women’s Saber Team ended its early season medal drought with a gold medal win and victories over the top two teams in the world on Sunday at the Antalya World Cup in Turkey.

Featuring all four members of the squad that won bronze at the 2013 Senior World Championships, Team USA included two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)

Team USA won its first two matches by 45-34 scores against Kazakhstan and Spain in the table of 16 and quarter-finals, respectively.

In the semifinals, Team USA upset Ukraine, the 2013 Senior World Champions, by a score of 45-36.

Fencing in the finals for the first time this season, Team USA fenced Russia for gold – a team that won gold at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Senior Worlds and included 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sofya Velikaya who was competing in her first tournament of the new season.

Zagunis came in as anchor against Yana Egorian with Team USA down by a touch, 40-39, going into the final bout. Zagunis scored six to give Team USA the win, 45-44.

On Saturday, three members of Team USA placed in the top eight of the individual event as Wozniak, Stone and Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

The ninth seed in the tournament Wozniak opened with a 15-10 win against Davina Hirzmann (GER) in the table of 64 and defeated 2007 Senior World medalist Bogna Jozwiak (POL), 15-8, in the table of 32.

In the table of 16, Wozniak fenced Anna Varhelyi (HUN) – a top-eight finisher at the 2013 Senior Worlds who Wozniak dominated for a 15-4 win.

Wozniak just missed winning her second individual World Cup medal of the season when she lost in the quarter finals to 2011 Senior World medalist Yuliya Gavrilova (RUS), 15-12, and finished fifth while Gavrilova went on to win silver.

After winning her first World Cup medal in Dakar, Senegal last month, Stone came into Antalya as the 11th seed and defeated Shinhu Choi (KOR), 15-12, and Martina Petraglia (ITA), 15-9, in her first two direct elimination bouts.

Stone’s table of 16 bout pitted her against Ibtihaj Muhammad in a rematch of their 2013 Division I Nationals final which Stone won last April to claim her first National Championship gold medal. Stone won this bout as well by a one-touch margin at 15-14.

Stone’s next bout came down to the final touch as well, but she lost to two-time Senior World team medalist Cecilia Berder (FRA), 15-14.

Faizah Muhammad was the only one of the three U.S. fencers to advance to the quarters after fencing in the pools on Friday.

Muhammad entered the table of 64 as the 28th seed and held each of her first three opponents to single digit scores as she defeated Malgorzata Kozaczuk (POL), 15-7; Xueqian Zhang (CHN), 15-6; and Magdalena Pasternak (POL), 15-8.

In the quarter-finals, Muhammad lost to Rossella Gregorio (ITA), 15-12, who went on to take her second straight World Cup bronze.

After winning three medals this season, including an individual gold in Bolzano, Zagunis seemed poised for another trip to the podium.

Zagunis opened with a quick win over Zoi Vahlas (GRE), 15-7, in the table of 64 and led her bout against Chen Shen (CHN), 8-3, at the break. Shen came back in the second period and tied the bout at 14. During the next exchange, Zagunis believed she scored the final touch and ripped her mask off in celebration, but, instead, was penalized with a red card which gave Shen the winning score and Zagunis a 17th place result.

Former Senior World team member Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) and 2013 Junior World Team Champion Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) each advanced to the table of 32.

Aksamit finished 26th after a 15-11 win over Marion Stoltz (FRA) in the table of 64 and a 15-13 loss to three-time Senior World Team Champion Dina Galiakbarova (RUS) in the 32.

Palmedo defeated Anna Limbach (GER), 15-10, but lost to Berder, 15-13, and finished in 31st place.

Although two-time Senior World team medalist Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) finished in the top eight at the last two World Cups, she drew 2012 Olympic Champion Jiyeon Kim (KOR) in the table of 64 and lost the bout, 15-12.

Thompson also fenced in the table of 64, but lost to Gregorio, 15-11.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Antalya Saber Individual World Cup
1. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
2. Yuliya Gavrilova (RUS)
3. Rossella Gregorio (ITA)
3. Chen Shen (CHN)
5. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
6. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
7. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)

8. Lucrezia Sinigaglia (ITA)

13. Ibithaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
17. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
26. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
31. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
49. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
62. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)

Antalya Team Saber World Cup
1. USA

2. Russia
3. Ukraine
4. Poland
5. France
6. Italy
7. Spain
8. Mexico 

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