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First-time Champions Crowned in Minneapolis

04/13/2014, 8:00am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Yeisser Ramirez celebrates his victory on the Division I men's epee podium.

Division I women's saber finalists.

(Minneapolis, Minn.) – Two first-time Division I National Champions were crowned on Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.), a two-time Junior World Team member and Ohio State junior, earned the fourth seed out of the pools, but her high ranking came as both a blessing and a curse as it set up a bye into the table of 16 where she would fence her younger sister, 2014 Cadet World Team member Sarah Merza (Wayne, N.J.)

“There’s nothing worse than fencing your sister at a competition. It’s bittersweet also. I won, but it’s really upsetting fencing her,” said the elder Merza of her 15-12 victory.

In the quarter-finals, Merza drew Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), a 2013 Senior World team bronze medalist and the No. 8-ranked fencer in the world whom had just defeated her U.S. teammate, Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-13, in the table of 16.

Merza got the bout off to a strong start with an 8-5 lead at the break, but Stone tied the bout at 10 in the second period and soon pulled away with a 13-11 lead. Merza stayed focused and scored four straight to win the bout, 15-13.

In the semifinals, Merza took an 8-4 lead over Loweye Diedro (Bronx, N.Y.) and controlled the second period for a 15-9 victory.

Merza got on a three-touch roll to start her final bout against two-time Senior World medalist Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.), but Schneider outscored Merza, 8-4, to hold an 8-7 lead at the break.

Schneider gained a 10-8 lead after scoring two of the next three touches. Merza fought back with four straight to take the score to 12-10. Merza went on to finish the bout, 15-11, to win her first Division I National Championship title.

“I just kept thinking of my ultimate goal which was to win. She’s a very strong fencer and I knew I couldn’t give her any breathing room. She’s really powerful and she knows how to take it back really quickly, so I knew I had to stay focused and finish it,” Merza said.

Although Merza upset two of the top women’s saber fencers in the world with her victories over Schneider and Stone, she said she doesn’t think about the experience level of her opponents on the strip.

“I don’t really get intimidated. I stay focused, but I came here today and I wanted to win. I respect them as fencers and they’re both very powerful fencers. I knew I had to put up my best competition against them and I’m really happy with my fencing and I’m happy with the way it ended,” Merza said. 

In the Division I men’s epee competition, Yeisser Ramirez (Bronx, N.Y.) concluded a season that has included North American Cup gold and bronze medals with his first Division I National Championships.

Ramirez began the table of 64 with wins over a pair of former NCAA Champions – Nicholas Vomero (Centerport, N.Y.), 15-6, and Jonathan Yergler (Long Island City, N.Y.), 15-12.

Ramirez’s next win came against 2012 Junior World Team member and MIT senior Joey Rafidi (Hidden Hills, Calif.) whom Ramirez defeated, 15-12.

In the quarters, Ramirez was tied with Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at 13 when Ramirez picked up two quick singles for a 15-13 win.

Ramirez and Alen Hadzic (New York, N.Y.) fenced a fast-paced semifinal bout that was tied at six after the first period and had Ramirez holding a 12-11 lead at the second break. Ramirez scored three singles during the first 30 seconds of the third period and Hadzic countered with one of his own to cut Ramirez’s lead to 14-12. Hadzic picked up an111other single, but Ramirez closed the bout out at 15-13.

“I was just thinking about one more touch, one more touch. I’m not thinking about losing. I was just thinking that I have to get to 15 touches, so one more touch, one more touch. It doesn’t matter how much ahead he is or I am, I’m just thinking about the next one. So I’m working really really hard for every touch,” Ramirez said.

In the finals, Ramirez faced of his hometown training partners, 2013 Senior World Team member Adam Watson (Richfield, Vt.)

Ramirez led the bout by a one-touch margin after the first period at 7-6, but gave up just one score on a double in the second as he racked up seven singles for a 15-7 victory.

“We know each other well. I fence at the Athletic Club three times a week, so I know his game,” Ramirez said of Watson. “I know if I attack, he’s got a great parry riposte, so I don’t want to get into that. He really had me tired, but finally I did it.”

The win follows a silver medal finish in the senior team event on Friday for Ramirez who anchored his Peter Westbrook Foundation team its podium finish behind the New York Athletic Club.  

“It feels so good. I’ve been working really really hard for this time. Yesterday, we missed by just one point in team, so I knew I had to win today,” Ramirez said.

Although Ramirez has won three individual medals at North American Cups, the National Championship title was high on his list of goals.

“Peter’s always like ‘National Champion is different because your name is now written in the book’” said Ramirez who not only wanted to take the title, but leave no questions behind. “I was thinking that it’s not about winning, it’s about dominating and I did it.”

Ramirez’s PWF teammates celebrated the victory on the strip after cheering him on bout by bout.

“The support that we have, you don’t see that anywhere else. Nobody cheers for you like Peter. It feeds you. They’re like ‘C’mon, let’s go!’ and they know that when they cheer for me it gets me really pumped up. It makes you feel special and today’s win is dedicated to them,” Ramirez said.  

David Xu (Staten Island, N.Y.) followed his Wheelchair Epee National Championship title with a gold medal in foil. The Penn junior defeated four-time Paralympian Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.), 15-6, in the final bout.

London Paralympian Cat Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.) and Catherine Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.) fenced in the finals for the second time this weekend. Bouwkamp, who won their epee final on Friday, took the foil title, 15-9.

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.

Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.) qualified for her fourth straight Veteran World Team with her victory in the 60-69 women’s epee event. The reigning Veteran World Champion won the December NAC and added a second NAC title after she defeated her Veteran World teammate, Diane Kallus (Round Rock, Texas), in the gold medal final.

Veteran men’s foil fencer Peter Grandbois (Granville, Ohio) continued his unbeaten run as a first-year athlete in the 50-59 category. Grandbois’s win over two-time Veteran World team member Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.) in the finals which puts Grandbois at the top of the Veteran World Team standings for the 2014 squad.  

After taking top-eight finishes as both a veteran 50-59 and open epee fencer at the December NAC, Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.) returned to the top of the podium in Minneapolis where the 2013 Veteran World team member defeated Diane Trice (Silver Spring, Md.), 10-5, in the final bout.

Three-time Veteran World medalist Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.) won the +70 women’s epee competition where she edged 2011 Veteran World medalist Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.), 10-9, for gold.

Men’s 60-69 foil fencer Jan Patterson (Seattle, Wash.), a 2011 Veteran World Team member, followed his back-to-back NAC bronzes with a gold after his 7-5 final win against Glenn Pantel (Mendham, N.J.)

In a battle of the former Veteran World teammates, Davis Carvey Seattle, Wash.) came out on top with a final bout win against Peter Calderon (Plainsboro, N.J.), 8-3.

Four veteran competitions were held in events which aren’t on the Veteran World program.

Kristian Anderson (Lincoln, Neb.) won the veteran 40-49 men’s foil event where he defeated Vitaliy Boksiner (Fort Worth, Texas), 10-4, in the gold medal final.

In a rematch of their veteran open epee final at the December NAC, Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.) earned a come-from-behind win against Ann Totemeier (Boulder, Colo.), 10-9, to win her first NAC gold in the 40-49 epee event.

The veteran men’s saber team gold medal came down to the final bout between Fencers Club of Arizona and AMR. Down by just a touch going into the final bout, AMR’s Oleg Stetsiv (Staten Island, N.Y.) outscored 2012 Veteran World Champion Will Milne (Redwood City, Calif.), 6-2, to anchor his team to a 45-42 victory.

Although Brooklyn Alumni led the veteran women’s team foil match for the first six bouts, Repeat Offenders fought back to take a 39-37 lead going into the final bout between Veteran World teammates Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.) and Uschi Szpak (Trophy Club, Texas). Starks-Faulkner outscored Szpak, 6-2, to give Brooklyn Alumni the win, 42-41.  

The Division II women’s foil competition crowned a first-time NAC gold medalist after Alyssa Chen (San Diego, Calif.) defeated Lucia Procopio (Long Beach, Calif.), 15-6, in the finals.

In the Division II men’s saber event, Eric Pei (Saratoga, Calif.) won his second NAC title of the season when he defeated Frederick Breslow (Appleton, Wis.), 15-10, in the final bout.

Click here for complete results.

Top eight results are as follows:

Division I Men’s Epee National Championships
1. Yeisser Ramirez (Bronx, N.Y.)
2. Adam Watson (Richford, Vt.)
3. Alen Hadzic (New York, N.Y.)
3. Benji Ungar (Bronx, N.Y.)
5. Peregrine Badger (Providence, R.I.)
6. Alexander Tsinis (Little Neck, N.Y.)
7. Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
8. Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Division I Women’s Saber National Championships
1. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
2. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Sophie Keehan (Chandler, Ariz.)
3. Loweye Diedro (Bronx, N.Y.)
5. Tiki Kastor (New York City, N.Y.)
6. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
7. Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.)
8. Regina O’Brien (Wellesley, Mass.)

Wheelchair Men’s Foil National Championships
1. David Xu (Staten Island, N.Y.)
2. Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Joshua Russell (Mendenhall, Miss.)
3. Russell Oswalt (Von Ormy, Texas)
5. Curtis Lovejoy (College Park, Ga.)
6. Alexander Xue (Plainsboro, N.J.)
7. Randy Lavender (Tupelo, Miss.)
8. John Berret Jr. (Madison, Miss.)

Wheelchair Women’s Foil National Championships
1. Cat Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.)
2. Catherine Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.)
3. Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.)
3. Patricia Dykes (San Antonio, Texas)
5. Ellery Gilbert (Atlanta, Ga.)
6. Mia Ives Rublee (Durham, N.C.)

Veteran 40-49 Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.)
2. Ann Totemeier (Boulder, Colo.)
3. Carola Schmid (Seattle, Wash.)
3. Maria Copelan (Portland, Ore.)
5. Michele Tayengco (Henderson, Nev.)
6. Erica King (Brownstown, Mich.)
7. Lisa Wolf (Hadley, Mass.)
8. Jennifer Devore (Seattle, Wash.)

Veteran 50-59 Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.)
2. Diane Trice (Silver Spring, Md.)
3. Christine Tadlock (Sunnyvale, Texas)
3. Natalia Stavisky (Brookline, Mass.)
5. Amy Montoya (Las Vegas, Nev.)
6. Beth Slikas (East Falmouth, Mass.)
7. Nancy Reynolds (Westbrook, Maine)
8. Cristina Gordet (Somerville, Mass.)

Veteran 60-69 Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
2. Diane Kallus (Round Rock, Texas)
3. Jann Ream (Iowa City, Iowa)
3. Bonnie Aher (Brookfield, Conn.)
5. Anna Telles (Seattle, Wash.)
6. Anna Estrada (San Francisco, Calif.)
7. Agota Balot (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
8. Henri Gales (Greensboro, N.C.)

Veteran +70 Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.)
2. Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.)
3. Sally Higgins (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
3. Catherine Radle (Atlanta, Ga.)
5. Diane Reckling (White Plains, N.Y.)

Veteran 40-49 Men’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Kristian Anderson (Lincoln, Neb.)
2. Vitaliy Boksiner (Fort Worth, Texas)
3. John Kissingford (Ouray, Colo.)
3. Darwin Martos (El Cerrito, Calif.)
5. Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.)
6. Leon Sanchez (Boston, Mass.)
7. Michael Cho (Northville, Mich.)
8. Rolando Balboa (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Veteran 50-59 Men’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Peter Grandbois (Granville, Ohio)
2. Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Edward Kaihatsu (Chicago, Ill.)
3. Julio Diaz (Lilburn, Ga.)
5. Robert Pavlovich (Manhasset, N.Y.)
6. Christopher Hagen (Brooklyn Center, Minn.)
7. David Drake (San Diego, Calif.)
8. David Willey (Escondido, Calif.)

Veteran 60-69 Men’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Jan Patterson (Seattle, Wash.)
2. Glenn Pantel (Mendham, N.J.)
3. Philippe Bennett (New York, N.Y.)
3. Joe Streb (Columbus, Ohio)
5. Tom Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.)
6. Hideyo Mimata (JPN)
7. Frank Thomiszer (Nicholasville, Ky.)
8. Marek Piatkowski Nazarro (Pasadena, Calif.)

Veteran +70 Men’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Davis Carvey (Seattle, Wash.)
2. Peter Calderon (Plainsboro, N.J.)
3. Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
3. Fritz Chang (Lexington, Mass.)
5. Ray Sexton III (Round Rock, Texas)
6. Allen Barwick (Potomac, Md.)
7. Marcel Miernik (Irvington, N.Y.)
8. Lucas Dobrzanski (Bakersfield, Calif.)

Veteran Women’s Team Foil
1. Brooklyn Alumni
2. Repeat Offenders
3. Three Elles and an AARGH
4. Golden Domers
5. Hell on Heels
6. The Stegosaurans
7. The Grey Pointers

Veteran Men’s Team Saber
1. Fencers Club of Arizona
2. AMR
3. Internationale
4. Lilov Fencing Academy
5. Sabre Long-in-the-tooth Tigers
6. Old Dominion Sabers
7. 39th St. Blade Runners
8. 300

Division II Women’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Alyssa Chen  (San Diego, Calif.)
2. Lucia Procopio (Long Beach, Calif.)
3. Cathy Chi (Plainsboro, N.J.)
3. Julia Gianneschi (Atlanta, Ga.)
5. Mackenzie Nechanicky (Suwanee, Ga.)
6. Rhiannon Harvey (Norfolk, Va.)
7. Sarah Filby (Edina, Minn.)
8. Miya Herman (Hillsborough, Calif.)

Division II Men’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Eric Pei (Saratoga, Calif.)
2. Frederick Breslow (Appleton, Wis.)
3. James Gregory (Sulphur Springs, Texas)
3. Ben Slavin (Belmont, Mass.)
5. Warren Choi (Mount Laurel, N.J.)
6. Nick Chen (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.)
7. Zack Johnson (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
8. Mitchell Buteau (Bernardsville, N.J.)


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