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Lu and Dershwitz Follow Junior World Medals with National Titles

04/16/2014, 12:45am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Margaret Lu (right) defeated her Columbia teammate, Sara Taffel in the Division I women's foil gold medal final.

Eli Dershwitz (right) defeated his Zeta Fencing teammate, Andrew Mackiewicz in the Division I men's saber gold medal final.

(Minneapolis, Minn.) – If anyone would have had an excuse to be tired and off his or her game at the USA Fencing Division I National Championships, it would have been the fencers who came to Minnesota from Plovdiv, Bulgaria where the Junior World Championships concluded on Saturday.

Instead, four of Team USA’s Junior World medalists returned to the podium at the Nationals on Monday  and Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) and Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) each won gold.

Fencing at her final Junior Worlds, Lu made her fifth Junior World medal a gold one when she won the team title with the U.S. Women’s Foil Team on Thursday.

“It was tough. I was kind of on cloud nine to have just won the Junior World Championships with my teammates,” said the Columbia freshman who flew back to New York on Friday and had just a day to recoup before flying to Minnesota. “I was looking forward to this tournament because I wasn’t thinking about my team win, but I was happy that I was feeling good fencing-wise and I was excited that there was a tournament so soon where I could see how my fencing’s going again.”

Seeded first out of the pools, Lu earned a bye into the table of 16 where she won her bout against Taylor Chin (Cupertino, Calif.), 15-8.

After another 15-8 victory over Olivia Dobbs (Farmington, Mich.), Lu advanced to the semifinals against Notre Dame junior Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.)

Although Zeiss led the bout, 3-2, after the first period, Lu scored three unanswered touches to take a 5-3 lead after the second.

With Lu up, 10-6, in the third period, Zeiss scored three to cut Lu’s lead to one. In an action-packed final minute, Lu scored five straight to win the bout, 15-9.

In the gold medal final, Lu would face her Columbia teammate, Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.) – a freshman who won silver at the Junior Worlds with Lu in 2013.

Fresh off her 15-5 victory over 2014 Junior World Team Champion Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), Taffel controlled most of the bout against Lu and held a 12-7 lead in the third period.

Lu kept working her opponent, however, and fought back to tie the bout at 12 with 38 seconds on the clock.

With neither athlete scoring, the bout went to overtime, where Lu scored the winning touch with 23 seconds on the clock.

“It feels great. I almost thought I didn’t have this one and I almost didn’t. My teammate and friend, Sara Taffel, fenced really well. I watched her in the bout before and she looked really on,” Lu said. “But I just  took it one touch at a time. I tried to not think about the outcome and stay focused on the process and, little by little, 12-8 became 12-12 and then we went to priority. I stayed focused and was able to get that touch.”

Although many athletes attack quickly in the overtime minute, Lu said she intentionally waited til late to attack.  

“I was definitely trying to take my time with it. I know priority is unforgiving and I’ve had instances before where I’ve rushed priority where I had a plan, but then did it too soon without any preparation and, even though I selected the right action, I did it too fast and my opponent was able to get the touch,” Lu said. “This time, I was feeling her out, taking my time, trying to set up the action, looked for my moment and then I pulled the trigger.”

Following her bout, Lu thanked her coach, Aladar Kogler (New York City, N.Y.) for helping guide her to a third Division I National Championship victory after taking gold in 2010 and 2011 at 16 and 17-years-old, respectively.

“Without him, this victory wouldn't be possible. I've been working with him for almost two years and I have noticed tremendous improvements in each aspect of my game. For this bout, the mental skills he taught me helped me to believe that I could win, no matter how many points I was losing by,” Lu said. “I'm very grateful to be working with him now and excited to keep learning."

Dershwitz, who anchored the U.S. Men’s Saber Team to a bronze medal on Thursday, came into the Nationals motivated to avenge his early round loss in the individual event in Bulgaria.

“I had a disappointing loss at Worlds and I came in here hungry and wanted to redeem myself after a disappointing individual result at Junior Worlds,” Dershwitz said.  

Dershwitz came into the table of 32 as the eighth seed and opened with a 15-10 win over Jonathan Fitzgerald (East Brunswick, N.J.)

After a 15-12 win over Donovan Deans (Chandler, Ariz.), Dershwitz defeated 2014 Cadet World Team member Ben Natanzon (Manalapan, N.J.), 15-10, to advance to the semis.

Dershwitz took an 8-3 lead over 2012 Olympian Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) after the first period, but Spear came back in the second to tie the bout at 12. Dershwitz took three of the next four touches and one the bout, 15-13.

“I had an early lead and I blew it, but I was able to regroup, refocus and take some time to just think about doing smart actions,” Dershwitz said.

In the gold medal final, Dershwitz fenced Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.), his teammate on the Junior World team and at Zeta Fencing. After a close first period, Dershwitz led the bout by just a touch at 8-7. In the second period, Mackiewicz scored the first touch, but Dershwitz took the next seven straight to defeat his teammate, 15-8.

I was just trying to fence smart. We fence every day, but I just kept telling myself that if I fence clean actions, I’ll get the touches.

Although Dershwitz came into the Nationals attempting to qualify for his second Senior World Team, he said there was less pressure in Minnesota than he experienced at the Junior Worlds.

“Actually, I felt almost no pressure at all. There was lots of pressure in Bulgaria and it kind of hurt me a little bit, but coming here, it was tiring, but I was able to fence like myself and my game and it worked out,” Dershwitz said.

In the senior women’s team epee competition, NYAC Red followed a 45-39 semifinal victory over NYAC White with a 45-27 win against Boston Fencing Club for gold.

Competition also was held in Minneapolis in non-championship events at the April North American Cup.

Fencing in just her second Division II national tournament, Monique Ramras (Portland, Ore.) won the women’s saber title after a 15-6 victory over Zara Moss (Cranberry Township, Pa.) in the gold medal final.

In the veteran open women’s epee event, Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.) won her second gold medal of the weekend. Marchant, who took the 40-49 women’s epee title, defeated Beth Slikas (East Falmouth, Mass.), 10-7, in the final bout.

A gold medalist in the 40-49 foil event at the December NAC, Anatolie Senic (MDA) defeated Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.), 10-8, to win the veteran open foil competition.

In the veteran team women’s saber event, Broadswords defeated Swordid Ladies, 45-34, in the gold medal final.

Fencing in the final event of the weekend, Fencing Academy of Nevada took the veteran men’s team epee title with a 45-35 victory over East Bay Fencers Gym.

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

Division I Women’s Foil National Championships
1. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
2. Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.)
5. Ann Marsh-Senic (Royal Oak, Mich.)
6. Morgan Partridge (Swansea, Mass.)
7. Shani Edwards (Lexington, Ky.)
8. Olivia Dobbs (Farmington, Mich.)

Division I Men’s Saber National Championships
1. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
2. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)
3. Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
3. Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.)
5. Andrew Fischl (Huntington, N.Y.)
6. Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.)
7. Ben Natanzon (Manalapan, N.J.)
8. Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)

Senior Women’s Team Epee National Championships
1. NYAC Red
2. Boston Fencing Club
3. Fencers Club Inc.
4. NYAC White
5. DC Fencers Club

Division II Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Monique Ramras (Portland, Ore.)
2. Zara Moss (Cranberry Township, Pa.)
3. Catherine Hua (Minneapolis, Minn.)
3. Diana Philpot (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
5. Lindsay Sapienza (Bardonia, N.Y.)
6. Zoee D’Costa (Skillman, N.J.)
7. Claire Zau (Lawrenceville, N.J.)
8. Brenda Yang (Skillman, N.J.)

Veteran Women’s Open Epee April North American Cup
1. Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.)
2. Beth Slikas (East Falmouth, Mass.)
3. Maria Copelan (Portland, Ore.)
3. Liz Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
5. Natalia Stavisksy (Brookline, Mass.)
6. Ann Totemeier (Boulder, Colo.)
7. Carrie Warlaumont (Portland, Ore.)
8. Carola Schmid (Seattle, Wash.)

Veteran Open Men’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Anatolie Senic (MDA)
2. Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.)
3. Julio Diaz (Lilburn, Ga.)
3. Ed Kaihatsu (Skokie, Ill.)
5. Vitaliy Boksnier (Forth Worth, Texas)
6. Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.)
7. Marek Piatkowski-Nazarro (Pasadena, Calif.)
8. Thomas Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.)

Veteran Team Men’s Epee
1. Fencing Academy of Nevada
2. East Bay Fencers Gym
3. Los Caballeros
4. The Vetuation
5. East / West Fencing Specialist
6. Los Angeles International Fencing Center
7. Triage Unit
8. Victorious Secret

Veteran Team Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Broadswords
2. Swordid Ladies

Tag(s): News  Eli Dershwitz  Margaret Lu  Andrew Mackiewicz