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Five Epee Fencers Advance to Second Day at Senior Worlds

07/18/2014, 1:00am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Kazan, Russia) – Fencing on the final day of preliminary competition, five U.S. epee fencers advanced from the pools and preliminary rounds to the table of 64 at the Senior World Championships.

London Olympic team bronze medalist Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) won her first pool bout, 5-3, over Lis Fautsch (LUX) and took her next win, 5-1, against Manizha Bobodzhonova (TJK). After a 4-3 win against Ka Mong Chu (HKG), Hurley won her next two bouts against Giselle Vicatos (RSA) and Michaela Kock (FIN) by 5-2 and 5-1 scores, respectively. In the final pool bout, Hurley and Ricarda Multerer (GER) each picked up singles within the first 30 seconds of the bout and then ran the clock down to zero before an overtime minute was called.

“She didn’t really want to fence and I didn’t want to get to close to her because she was going to fleche me and I didn’t feel like dealing with that, so we just kind of agreed to go to priority,” Hurley said.

Multerer scored first, 17 seconds into the overtime minute, and won the bout, 2-1.

Despite the loss, Hurley finished 10th in the pool rankings and advanced directly to the table of 64 as the 25th seed.

“I was trying not to feel so nervous because then I psych myself out, but I felt strong today. I’m never nervous until I’m getting up to fence my first bout and then it all comes tumbling down at once,” Hurley said. “So I just try to convince myself that you’ve just got to do your best and, if you don’t do your best, there will always be another opportunity.”

Two-time Senior World Team member Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.) opened her pool round with a 5-2 victory over Magdale Xin’en Huang (SIN). In the second bout, Holmes led Olena Kryvytska, 4-1, but the Ukrainian scored four straight to steal the win, 5-4. Holmes rebounded to win her next three bout over Gbahi Gwladys Sakoa (CIV), 4-2; Shiori Komata (JPN), 5-4; and Dayana Martinez (VEN), 5-3. In the final bout, Veronika Soloveva (KGZ) picked up a single touch with five seconds on the clock to break a tie that was set at 1-1. Holmes attacked during the next exchange and bout ended with a double touch and a 3-2 win for Sokoleva.

“I think I was a little rough in the pools. I was super nervous. Last year it was my first Senior Worlds and you’re kind of like ‘Woo! This is fun!’ and then this year I was like ‘This is the real deal. I’m in it this year.’ And I think I was too nervous at the start of pools which is why I dropped those two,” Holmes said.

In the preliminary table of 64, Holmes fenced a back-and-forth bout against Josephine Jacques Andre Coquin (FRA) that was tied at 10 in the final period before Holmes went on a 5-1 run to take the victory, 15-11.

“I told myself that I’m not going out on the first day. I just kind of decided that. I was pretty nervous at first, but I talked to my coach and I talked to [my teammate] Eliza [Stone] and they said the same thing,” Holmes said. “I just went out onto the strip with that attitude and I think it showed. I’ve once some good bouts this year, but that was one of the best bouts I’ve fenced, regardless of the score. It was a really good bout and a lot of things I’ve been practicing came out.”

Holmes said her win over Coquin will give her added confidence when she takes the strip for the table of 64 on Sunday.

“A lot of stuff I’ve been working on showed in that bout and it gives me confidence for the next bout and also just in terms of having a win like that. It’s important to have a win like that under my belt because I fenced well and knowing that, if I do step on the strip saying ‘I’m not going to lose,’ than I can go out there and win it,” Holmes said.

Two-time Junior World medalist Anna Van Brummen (Houston, Texas) got off to a good start at her first Senior Worlds with a 5-2 win over Claudine Williams (JAM). After dropping her next bout, 5-4, to Sophie Haarlem (SWE), Van Brummen won her next round against Tamryn Carfoot (RSA), 5-2. Van Brummen picked up a score off a double in her third bout against Julianna Revesz (HUN), but lost the round, 5-1. Van Brummen finished strong to guarantee a trip to the direct elimination rounds with victories against Ana Constantin (ROU) and Rania Herlin Rahardja (SIN) by 5-3 and 5-2 scores, respectively.

In the preliminary table of 64, Van Brummen jumped out to a monstrous lead at 12-4 at the break over Catharina Kock (FIN). Van Brummen scored within the first second of the next period and a double on the next exchange increased her lead to 14-5. Kock fought back, however, and picked up five straight to come within four of the American. Van Brummen regrouped and scored a single to finish the bout, 15-10.

“I have a problem where, when I get a huge lead at 14, I tend to drop it because I’m focused on winning and it takes me awhile to get refocused,” said Van Brummen who was otherwise pleased with her fencing. “I kind of dropped it a little during my last bout, but I think I felt in the zone otherwise. I just need to remember that I just have to be comfortable and not stress about winning or losing and just fence.”

Hurley, Holmes and Van Brummen will be joined in the table of 64 by 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) who was exempt from pools due to her No. 6 world ranking.

In the men’s epee competition, it was first-time team member Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.) who survived a long day of pools and preliminary rounds to advance to the table of 64.

Moody won his first two bouts in the pool rounds by 5-3 scores over Jan Golobic (SLO) and Roman Aleksandrov (UZB). In the third round, Moody lost in overtime to Elmir Alimzhanov (KAZ), 4-3, but won his next bout, 5-3, against Manyane Sefularo (RSA). Moody ended the round with a 5-2 loss to Peeter Turnau (EST), but qualified for the preliminary table of 128.

In his first DE bout, Moody controlled his bout against Tristan Tulen (NED) for a 15-10 win.

“I did my job. It could have been easier. In my pools I had moments where I fenced really well and some lapses in judgment. Then, when DEs came, I was super nervous. Actually, I’ve lost to Thulen both times we’ve fenced in the team event, but I had a job to do and I was going to go down swinging. I was just happy I fenced my game and I didn’t give in to fear and just sort of crumble,” Moody said.

With one more win needed to advance to the second day, Moody found himself trailing Marco Fichera (ITA), a two-time Junior Overall World Cup Champion, 5-0, after the first break.

“[Coach] Benoit [Bouysset] came out and he told me I was making good decisions. He was very positive and very encouraging and just trying to keep me believing in myself,” Moody said. “I was really confused. I was making what I thought were really good actions, but nothing seemed to be going my way. But what was important was that I was controlling everything. It wasn’t that I was getting beat, but more that I was making mistakes with my point or the timing. It was still in my control and he just kept saying over and over that I had to believe and that I had a lot of time. And I could hear my teammates saying that I had tons of time and I just needed to take it one touch at a time.”

In the second period, Moody cut Fichera’s lead to four touches at 7-3; however, the setting sun streamed through a window which became a problem for the Italian contingent who requested a strip change.

“I was actually a little thankful for the break in rhythm. I was like ‘Alright. Whatever. You sort out whatever it is that you care about. The only thing that mattered to me is that I was pushing him back and, well, there was sun in his eyes, but that wasn’t my problem,” Moody said. “It was just nice that we had our team captain enforcing the rules and fighting about it. He focused on that so I didn’t have to worry about it. I just got to stay in the moment and do my job and everyone else did their job too.”

After a new location was chosen for the bout, Moody scored twice to take the score to 7-5, but the sun had moved to the new strip again.

“The referee offered to let us switch sides and alternate touches on each side and we both were like ‘You want us to switch sides every touch? That will take forever,’” Moody said. “But I was happy to move wherever because I could clearly tell that the momentum had shifted and he clearly had no solution or plan and, at that point, I could care less where they put me. I was just like ‘I’ll fence you anywhere. Let’s do this.’”

The bout continued on a third strip and Moody scored two more singles to tie the bout with 14 seconds remaining in the final period. The bout was sent to overtime and Moody began to attack quickly.

“I knew for the overtime period that I just had to keep up the intensity. This may sound crazy, but I just wanted to go full Seth Kelsey,” Moody said in reference to his former Olympic Training Center teammate who anchored Team USA to a gold medal at the Worlds in 2012. “I just wanted to ramp up the tempo and I was just going to machine gun fire to your hand until you crack and then I’m going to go. I literally did everything in my power to channel Seth in that moment. I was like ‘Do what Seth taught you to do. Go straight.’”

Moody got the first touch after less than 10 seconds to secure his position in the top 64 while his teammates cheered during one of the final bouts of the night.

“The support was awesome. It’s one of those things where, when, maybe you don’t feel it for yourself, if you look back and see your teammates and other people believing in you, if you have trouble doing it for yourself, you can do it for them,” Moody said. “I’ve always enjoyed that and, sometimes, that’s what it takes. It’s not always going to be perfect, but you’ve got to find a way and, if it’s your teammates screaming and yelling at you, then that’s what it takes.”

Two of Moody’s teammates also advanced to the preliminary tables, but did not qualify for the top 64.

Moody’s OTC teammate, Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.), sailed through his first four pool bouts as he took his first victory, 5-0, over Javgenij Stalmakov (LTU) and went on to defeat both Christian Gustavsson (SWE) and Joao Cordeiro (POR) by 5-1 scores. After a 5-4 win against Chao Dong (CHN), Pryor dropped his first bout of the day to Alexander Chernykh (KGZ), 5-3.

Due to the fact that Pryor had a six instead of seven-man pool, the loss meant he wouldn’t finish in the top 16.

The two-time Senior World Team member did get a bye into the prelim table of 64 where he kept his bout close with Egyptian Mohannad Saif. After a non-combattivity period, the score was tied at five by the end of the second. Saif ramped up his game in the third, however, and went on to take the bout, 15-11.

OTC resident Andras Horanyi (Colorado Springs, Colo.) came into the Senior Worlds as  the highest ranked U.S. men’s epee fencer in the world, but the pool rounds proved to be difficult.

Horanyi began with a 5-3 loss to Mehrab Hasanov (AZE) and pulled off an overtime win against Chengjie Zhang (CHN), 5-4, in the second bout. After a 5-2 loss to Ahmed Nabil (EGY), Horanyi shut out Murtaza Berkan Anil (TUR) to stay in contention. Horanyi lost to Pavel Pitra (CZE), 3-2, in overtime and finished with a 5-4 win in the final two seconds against Rasmus Mellanen (FIN).

In the preliminary table of 128, Horanyi and Marno Allika (EST) stayed within a touch of each other for the entire bout. With the score tied at 12 at the end of the second period, Allika scored first, followed by a touch for Horanyi and another for the Estonian. Up, 14-13, Allika doubled out for a 15-14 win.

Two-time Senior World Team member Adam Watson (Richford, Vt.) found himself in a six-person pool after Keletigui Julien Diabate (MLI) withdrew from the event. Watson suffered four straight losses in his opening bouts against Aleksey Tishko (UZB), 5-4; Paul Rosello (ESP), 5-1; Inochi Ito (JPN), 5-2; and Mohammad Esmaeili (IRI), 4-3, with the loss to Esmaeili coming in overtime. Although Watson was out of contention to advance, he ended the day on a positive note with a 5-4 win against 2011 Senior World team medalist Benjamin Steffen (SUI).

Competition begins at 9 a.m. local time (1:30 a.m. Eastern) on Sunday for the women’s epee table of 64 and 10:40 local time (2:40 a.m. Eastern) for the men’s epee event.

The first set of individual medals will be awarded on Friday when the men’s and women’s saber events are held.

Team USA has full teams of men’s and women’s saber fencers qualified for the top 64 as follows:

  • Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), two-time Olympic and four-time Senior World Champion
  • Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), 2012 Olympian and three-time Senior World team medalist
  • Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), 2013 Senior World team medalist
  • Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), three-time Senior World team medalist
  • Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.), 2012 Olympian and 2011 Pan American Champion
  • Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.), 2012 Olympian and 2012 Pan American silver medalist
  • Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), three-time Junior World medalist
  • Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.), four-time Senior World team member

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