Division I men's foil podium (L-R): David Willette (silver), Race Imboden (gold), bronze medalists Max Blitzer and Michael Dude and top-eight finishers Brian Kaneshige and Thomas Dudey. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas
Division I National Champion Race Imboden. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas
(Minneapolis, Minn.) – Less than a week before his 21st birthday, London Olympian Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) won his second USA Fencing Division I National Championship title in dominant fashion as the reigning Senior World Team silver medalist became the rare athlete who kept improving throughout the day.
Seeded third out of the pools, Imboden won his table of 32 bout against Alex Chiang (Atlanta, Ga.), 15-9.
Cadet fencer Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.) got as close in score as any fencer would to Imboden, but the Olympian came away with a 15-12 victory.
After a 15-9 win against Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.), Imboden advanced to the semifinals against Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas) – the Princeton sophomore who won gold at the Junior World Championships with Imboden in 2012.
Imboden burst out to a 6-1 lead and was up, 14-3, at the break. Imboden needed just five seconds in the next period to finish with a 15-3 victory.
In the gold medal final, Imboden faced David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) – a Penn State senior who placed second at the NCAA Championships last month and frequently travels with Imboden on the World Cup circuit.
While Imboden took a 9-3 lead early in the bout, Willette scored three straight to cut Imboden’s lead to 9-6.
Those three scores would be Willette’s last, however, as Imboden earned six straight touches to win the bout, 15-6, in less than two minutes.
“I’m really good friends with David and we’ve fenced a lot over the years. He’s a great competitor and it’s always an honor to get en garde with someone who’s working really hard and been around the circuit, so it was an awesome bout,” Imboden said.
This is Imboden’s first return to the Division I Nationals since winning the event as an 18-year-old in 2011.
“I’ve been training really hard and to be able to put everything together is an amazing feeling,” Imboden said. “I’m putting in the work now and I think my fencing has taken another jump recently, level-wise. I expected to come here and dominate and that’s what I did.”
Although Imboden’s goal was to win Nationals, he said his focus is always on the international scene where he will return to the World Cup circuit in Korea in two weeks..
While much has changed for Imboden over the last year, the greatest may be his switch to train with 2004 Olympian Dan Kellner (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
“It’s been the classic ups and downs of switching coaches. It’s completely different. I spend every day with this guy and he’s teaching me things and now I’m spending every day with a new guy and he’s teaching me something completely different. It can be frustrating,” Imboden said. “Fencing is a lot about finding yourself in situations and coming back to the things that you’ve learned without even thinking about it. You can think about it, you can be as premeditated as you want, but really, when it comes down to it, it’s those things where it just happens. So when you start changing pieces around, all of a sudden the little things aren’t there anymore and it makes it extremely difficult to find yourself and find confidence in your fencing.”
One of the things Kellner stresses is the importance of both mind and body in fencing.
“This tournament comes right before the Asian circuit, so we talk about it as ‘training through.’ So you want to make sure your body is completely ready for a tournament both mentally and physically. That means breathing. That means having your body at complete rest. That means understanding your body,” said Imboden who is known for both his physical and mental strength as a competitor. “it’s just about being in control and understanding your body and listening to your body and it helps in every aspect. If you know how to breathe well, that means that if someone else is tired, you’re not. If you know how to listen to your body, it means that you’re not going to get injured because you’re not going to overdo it or underdo it.”
Imboden has three more tournaments on the World Cup circuit to finish out the season before the Pan American Championships are held in June and then Imboden will begin final preparations for the Senior Worlds where he will fence with a U.S. team that won silver last year. Individually, Imboden placed in the top 16 in 2013 and top eight in 2011, but has his eyes on his first individual podium finish at the event.
“Results-wise, I’ve seen improvement, but the biggest thing is getting back to the fencing I want to be doing and the level I want to be at and the detail and complete control and that comes from a lot of things – physically, mentally, change of coach,” Imboden said. “All that stuff really has to come together for you to perform at the highest level. I would say I’ve seen the pieces and they’re sort of floating around and they’re starting to come closer and closer and closer. My results are decent, but I’m looking for that last push and I know it’s coming soon.”
In addition to individual events, the Division I Nationals also includes team competitions and a trio of squads from New York swept the senior men’s epee team event.
The rivalry between the New York Athletic Club and the Peter Westbrook Foundation continued when NYAC Red advanced to the finals against the Peter Westbrook Foundation.
NYAC Red built a four-touch lead at 38-34 going into the final bout between NYAC’s Alen Hadzic (New York, N.Y.) and Yeisser Ramirez (Bronx, N.Y.) Although Ramirez outtouched Hadzic, 10-7, it was too late for his team to recover and NYAC won the match, 45-44.
NYAC White took bronze with a 45-28 victory against Twin Cities Fencing Club.
Wheelchair fencer David Xu (Staten Island, N.Y.) entered his first Nationals this weekend and found himself being crowned as the new Wheelchair National Champion after he upset 2012 Paralympian Ryan Estep (Florence, Miss.), 15-14, in the epee competition.
Estep’s 2014 Paralympic teammate, Catherine Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.) won the women’s wheelchair epee event where she defeated Catherine Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.), 15-8.
Competition also was held in Minneapolis in non-championship events at the April North American Cup.
Featuring both age group and open veteran events, the April NAC is the second of three qualifying events for the 2014 Veteran World Championship Team.
With two of the three qualifying events for the 2014 Veteran World Championships now in the books, veteran +70 saber fencer Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas) qualified for his 12th straight team when the 10-time medalist defeated 2011 Veteran World medalist John Terninko (Nottingham, N.H.), 10-7, in the gold medal final to earn his second NAC win of the season.
In the veteran men’s 50-59 saber event, Dmitri Kopylov (Roseland, N.J.) fenced Chris Matt (Fairfax, Va.) in Matt’s second NAC gold medal final of the season. A two-time Veteran World Team member, Kopylov won the bout, 10-6.
The reigning Veteran World Champion, David Seuss (Charlestown, Mass.) won gold in his 60-69 saber competition where he defeated his former teammate, Joseph Streb (Columbus, Ohio).
Lynn Botelho (Indiana, Pa.) continued her bid to qualify for a second Veteran World Team with a gold medal win in the veteran women’s 50-59 foil event where she won her final bout against Viveka Fox (Virgennes, Vt.), 10-6.
The veteran 60-69 women’s foil competition came down to Veteran World medalists Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.) and Anne-Marie Walters (Parkland, Fla.) While Walters won their last final at the December NAC, Starks-Faulkner took this final bout, 10-8.
Fencing in her first season as a veteran +70 fencer, Ruth Dodge (Casa Grande, Ariz.) won her first NAC title in the new age group after she defeated three-time Veteran World medalist Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.), 10-3, in the gold medal final.
Four veteran competitions were held in events which aren’t on the Veteran World program.
A former fencer for Notre Dame during her college days, Vittoria Tomich (San Diego, Calif.) won her veteran 40-49 women’s foil gold medal final against Doina Bogdan (Valley Village, Calif.), 10-6, to claim her first NAC title.
A bronze medalist at the 2013 National Championships, veteran 40-49 men’s saber fencer Sergey Makogon (Sandy, Utah) claimed his first NAC gold on Friday. Makogon led the final bout, 9-6, in the second period, but Tony Jochaniewicz (Oak Park, Ill.) fought back to score two and come within a touch of a tie. Makogon scored the final touch to win the bout, 10-8.
Fencing in front of a home crowd, Benoit Pouliquen (Eden Prairie, Minn.) won his first NAC title in the veteran men’s open epee event where he defeated three-time Veteran World Team member Sean Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.), 8-7, in overtime in the gold medal final.
Three-time Veteran World Champion Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.) has been undefeated in both domestic and international competition since March of 2013 – a streak she continued on Friday with a gold medal win in the veteran open women’s saber event. Seeded sixth in the direct elimination tables, Eyre advanced to the finals where she defeated 2012 Veteran World medalist Chaz Smith (Placerville, Calif.), 10-6.
The first veteran team title of the weekend was awarded to The Needles who defeated the West Coast Tsunami, 45-38. Candlewood Coyotes took the bronze, 45-32, over West Rock.
In Division II competition, Margot Snider (Solon, Iowa) won her NAC gold medal with a 15-8 victory over Liz Feller (Cortland Manor, N.Y.) in the gold medal final.
Top eight results are as follows:
Division I Men’s Foil National Championships
1. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
2. David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
3. Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas)
3. Max Blitzer (Staten Island, N.Y.)
5. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
6. Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.)
7. Thomas Dudey (Bellaire, Texas)
8. Nolen Scruggs (Ozone Park, N.Y.)
Senior Team Men’s Epee National Championships
1. NYAC Red
2. Peter Westbrook Foundation
3. NYAC White
4. Twin Cities Fencing Club
Wheelchair Men’s Epee National Championships
1. David Xu (Staten Island, N.Y.)
2. Ryan Estep (Florence, Miss.)
3. Josh Russell (Mendenhall, Miss.)
3. Curtis Lovejoy (College Park, Ga.)
5. Joey Brinson (Florence, Miss.)
6. Russell Oswalt (Von Ormy, Texas)
7. Leo Curtis (Rainier, Ore.)
8. Hilliard Daniel (Forsyth, Ga.)
Wheelchair Women’s Epee National Championships
1. Catherine Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.)
2. Catherine Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.)
3. Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.)
3. Ellery Gilbert (Atlanta, Ga.)
5. Patricia Dyes (San Antonio, Texas)
6. Mia Ives (Durham, N.C.)
Division II Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Margot Snider (Solon, Iowa)
2. Liz Feller (Cortland Manor, N.Y.)
3. Essene Waters (Lafayette, Ind.)
3. Huda Aldadah (Peoria, Ill.)
5. Ceara Sweeney (Bedminster, N.J.)
6. Mary Mayer (Minneapolis, Minn.)
7. Anna Paul (Des Plaiens, Ill.)
8. Ella Morgan (Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Veteran 40-49 Women’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Vittoria Tomich (San Diego, Calif.)
2. Doina Bogdan (Valley Village, Calif.)
3. Claire Lee (Indianapolis, Ind.)
3. Ursula Kopij (St. Louis, Mo.)
5. Margaret Fagan (New York, N.Y.)
6. Monica Morrison (Seattle, Wash.)
7. Karine Pouliquen (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
8. Erica King (Brownstown, Mich.)
Veteran 50-59 Women’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Lynn Botelho (Indiana, Pa.)
2. Viveka Fox (Virgennes, Vt.)
3. Uschi Szpak (Trophy Club, Texas)
3. Sharone Huey (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
5. Suzanne Brown Marx (Portland, Ore.)
6. Dorothy Carney (Charlottesville, Va.)
7. Kristin Vines (Chatanooga, Tenn.)
8. Nancy Reynolds (Westbrook, Maine)
Veteran 60-69 Women’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.)
2. Anne-Marie Walters (Parkland, Fla.)
3. Lynnette Whitt (Owings, Md.)
3. Judith Offerle (Winnetka, Ill.)
5. Agota Balot (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
6. Joanne Stevens (New York, N.Y.)
7. Madelon Rosenfeld (New York, N.Y.)
8. Debra Allen (Ashland, Ore.)
Veteran +70 Women’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Ruth Dodge (Casa Grande, Ariz.)
2. Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.)
3. Diane Reckling (White Plains, N.Y.)
3. Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.)
5. Catherine Radle (Atlanta, Ga.)
6. Judith Evans (Greenwich, Conn.)
Veteran 40-49 Men’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Sergey Makogon (Sandy, Utah)
2. Tony Jochaniewicz (Oak Park, Ill.)
3. Misha Mironovas (Columbus, Ohio)
3. Bill Becker (Chandler, Ariz.)
5. Alexander Dvorin (West Orange, N.Y.)
6. Louis Montorio (New York, N.Y.)
7. Bruce Mattare (Hayden, Idaho)
8. Michael Bacon (New York, N.Y.)
Veteran 50-59 Men’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Dmitri Kopylov (Roseland, N.J.)
2. Chris Matt (Fairfax Station, Va.)
3. Donald Anthony Jr. (Columbus, Ohio)
3. Will Milne (Redwood City, Calif.)
5. Val Kizik (Indianapolis, Ind.)
6. Tamas Vidovszky (Folsom, Calif.)
7. Paul Hicha (Mesa, Ariz.)
8. Stephen Dashnaw (Wayne, N.J.)
Veteran 60-69 Men’s Saber April North American Cup
1. David Seuss (Charlestown, Mass.)
2. Joseph Streb (Columbus, Ohio)
3. Garik Gutman (Rockville, Md.)
3. Wang Yung (Bellevue, Wash.)
5. Keith Baker (Mc Lean, Va.)
6. Philip Kath (Morganton, N.C.)
7. Philip Sbarbaro (Vienna, Va.)
8. Bob Trestman (Simsbury, Conn.)
Veteran +70 Men’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Ray Sexon III (Round Rock, Texas)
2. John Terninko (Nottingham, N.H.)
3. Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
3. Victor Bianchini (San Diego, Calif.)
5. Thomas Fischer (Raytown, Mo.)
6. Lucas Dobrzanski (Bakersfield, Calif.)
7. William Carson (Fort Collins, Calif.)
8. Marvin Fine (Rexford, N.Y.)
Veteran Open Men’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Benoit Pouliquen (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
2. Sean Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Mehmet Tepedelenlioglu (La Honda, Calif.)
3. George Scott (Milton, Mass.)
5. Walter Dragonetti (Elyria, Ohio)
6. Patric Wallace (Mendham, N.J.)
7. Charngshiou Way (East Hartford, Conn.)
8. Joseph Deucher (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Veteran Open Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.)
2. Chaz Smith (Placerville, Calif.)
3. Nona Lim (Oakland, Calif.)
3. Miyako DeRose (Morristown, N.J.)
5. Donna Pepe (Oxford, Conn.)
6. Mary Wilkerson (Denver, Colo.)
7. Margaret Arnecke (Sulphur Springs, Texas)
8. Alyce Athay-Croasdale (Wakefield, R.I.)
Veteran Team Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. The Needles
2. West Coast Tsunami
3. Candlewood Coyotes
4. West Rock
5. NWFC 1
7. FAN HOF
8. Desert Blades Wild Women