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Gerek Meinhardt and Lee Kiefer Place in Top Eight at Senior Worlds

07/19/2014, 6:45pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Lee Kiefer (left) scores on Valentina Vezzali (ITA) during the quarter-finals. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

Gerek Meinhardt placed fifth in Kazan. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Kazan, Russia) – Two of the last three U.S. foil fencers to win individual medals at the Senior World Championships were back in contention for podium finishes on Saturday.

London Olympians Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) and Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) each won bronze in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

And both made it to the quarter-finals in their bids to return to the podium, but each fell a handful of touches short of a medal as Meinhardt finished fifth and Kiefer placed sixth.

As the No. 3-ranked fencer in the world, Meinhardt drew Felipe Guillermo Saucedo (ARG) in the table of 64, and scored the last two touches to win the bout, 15-13.

In the table of 32, Meinhardt held just a two-touch lead at the end of the first round at the break at 8-6 against Volodymyur Koltygo, but kept the Ukrainian to just one point in the second half and finished with a 15-7 victory.

The win set up a table of 16 bout between Meinhardt and his London Olympic teammate, Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who was fresh off a 15-8 win over Ka Long Cheung (HKG) in the table of 32 and had defeated Jialuo Shi (CHN), 15-4, in the previous round.

“It’s always terrible when you have to fence your teammates, but we both have great respect for each other and we just go out there and fence like it’s any other opponent. You can’t really think like they’re your teammate, otherwise than you both hold back and that’s not good for either of you,” Meinhardt said.

Meinhardt’s battle with his Imboden was fast paced and the two needed less than two minutes for Meinhardt to take a 9-8 lead. In the final minute, Meinhardt scored six more touches to Imboden’s three to win the bout, 15-11, and leave his teammate with a ninth place result.

In the quarter-finals, Meinhardt fenced Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS) in front of a stadium that was filled with raucous Russian fans.

Although Meinhardt is known for his level-headedness on the strip in high pressure situations, he let eight touches slip away within the first 40 seconds.

“I think I just wasn’t fully prepared. I couldn’t get my point on and he, obviously, had the crowd behind him and I didn’t make the tactical adjustments early enough,” Meinhardt said.

Meinhardt cut the Russian’s lead to four touches and a 9-5 score within the next 30 seconds, but he couldn’t dig out of the hole and Cheremisinov went on to win the bout, 15-9, late in the first period. By the end of the evening, Cheremisinov would become a hero to the packed arena of Russian fans when he went on to win his first Senior World title.

“I’m not happy with how it ended. I got too far behind with Cheremisinov and having to work my way back, but not really get back into the bout,” Meinhardt said. “I really didn’t feel great today. Race and I had a really great bout in the 16, but, other than that, I really didn’t feel great all day. I guess I should be thankful that I was able to fight through it and make it to the eight, but it’s still disappointing that I fell short.”

Two of Meinhardt’s teammates advanced to the table of 32.

London Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.) came to Russia to defend the Senior World Championship he won in 2013, but struggled in the table of 64 where he edged Tarek Ayad (EGY), 15-12.

In the table of 32, Chamley-Watson fenced 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist Sebastian Bachmann (GER) in a rematch of their quarter-final from the 2013 Senior Worlds.

The bout became vaguely reminiscent of their 2013 matchup when Bachmann took a 12-5 lead. While Chamley-Watson pulled off a stunning comeback and dramatic, 15-14, win in 2013 after being down by seven touches, the magic wasn’t there this year. Bachmann grew his lead to 14-7 and was awarded the final score when Chamley-Watson was given a red card for turning his back to the German during an exchange on the strip – a twist that seemed like reverse déjà vu as a red card by Bachmann is how Chamley-Watson earned his final touch against the German last year.

The loss left Chamley-Watson with an 18th place finish that fell three rounds short of the podium.

London Olympian Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) also began the day as an athlete to watch in the race for medals in Kazan.

After a 15-8 win against Canadian Maximilien Van Haaster (CAN), Massialas suffered a first-period loss to Vincent Simon (FRA) by the same score. Massialas placed just behind Chamley-Watson in the rankings at 19th.

Meinhardt, Imboden, Chamley-Watson and Massialas will fence together in the team event on Tuesday where the squad is hoping to return to the medal stand after claiming silver in 2013.

“We want to get on the podium and the ultimate goal for everyone is to end up on top of the podium and I think we definitely have the potential to do it,” Meinhardt said.

In the women’s event, Kiefer started her day with a 9-3 lead over Wenying Wang (SIN) in the first period of the table of 64 and finished the bout with a 6-1 run in the second for a 15-4 finish.

Kiefer led her table of 32 bout against two-time Senior World team medalist Astrid Guyart (FRA) from the start and a 5-1 run in the final minute of the first period gave Kiefer a 15-10 win in one of the few women’s foil bouts to go just one period.

Another 5-1 run came into play for Kiefer in the table of 16 as she controlled her bout against Anne Sauer (GER) for a 15-9 victory.

In the quarter-finals, Kiefer fenced six-time Olympic Champion Valentina Vezzali (ITA) – the same athlete who defeated Kiefer in the semifinals of the 2011 Senior Worlds.

Kiefer led the bout, 4-1, after the first minute, but Vezzali had tied the bout at eight by the end of the second period. During the third period, Vezzali scored five touches to Kiefer’s one to secure a 13-9 lead. Kiefer became more aggressive and, although she gave up another touch, she also scored three more, including one on a red card Vezzali received for covering target. As Kiefer ran at the Italian with six seconds on the clock, she got hit once more and Vezzali secured her 24th career Senior World medal.

“I’ve watched her fence a lot and a lot of people get a lead and then she comes back in almost every bout. So I knew that she would change and it was just a matter of me changing too,” Kiefer said. “I think my fencing against her has developed a lot and I think I showed today that I’m definitely on the right path to competing well with more of the top-level fencers.”

Although she fell short of the podium, Kiefer was pleased with how she fenced throughout the day.

“Obviously winning a medal is where I’d rather be, but I’m happy I got this far and I got to fence some good people,” Kiefer said. “All day I felt pretty good. I could have moved better in some of my earlier bouts, but I felt good overall.”

Kiefer’s three teammates each advanced to the table of 32.

London Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) got off to a slow start against Shannon Comerford (CAN) when the two were tied at five touches each after the first period. After the break, however, Prescod gave up just three more touches to win the bout, 15-8, early in the third period.

Prescod’s opponent in the table of 32, Magdalena Knop (POL), took a 5-0 lead early in the first period and Prescod couldn’t recover from the deficit. Knop built momentum and went on to take the bout, 15-8 and Prescod finished in 19th place.

A four-time Junior World medalist, Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) methodically picked apart her table of 64 opponent as she dispatched Liz Rivero (VEN), 15-3, in the table of 64.

In the next round, Yulia Biryukova (RUS) controlled the bout as she defeated Lu, 15-8.

Lu finished 22nd overall which bested her 2013 Senior Worlds result of 44th.

London Olympian Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) took an early lead against Karolina Chlewinska (POL) and never gave it up as she went on to win the bout, 15-10.

Ross’s 35th seed in the table of 64 meant that she found herself up against Vezzali in the table of 32.  

Ross caught the foil legend offguard and quickly scored five unanswered touches. Vezalli came back to tie the bout first a five and then at six by the end of the second period. In the final period, Vezalli outscored Ross, 6-2, to win the bout, 12-8. Ross finished 29th overall.

Kiefer, Prescod, Ross and 2014 Junior World Team Champion Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) will fence in the team event on Tuesday.

“I’m excited because this whole season our team hasn’t gotten to compete together all at the same time on the World Cup circuit because of school commitments so it’ll be really nice to fence with our full team there and I know we’re really good at supporting each other, so I’m excited to see what we can do,” Kiefer said.

On Sunday, the individual competition concludes with the men’s and women’s epee events.

The following athletes will take the strip for Team USA:

  • Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist
  • Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist
  • Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.), two-time Junior World medalist
  • Anna Van Brummen (Houston, Texas), two-time Junior World medalist
  • Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2012 Tallinn World Cup team bronze medalist

Competition begins at 9 a.m. local time (1 a.m. Eastern) for the women and at 10:40 a.m. local time (2:40 a.m. Eastern) for the men.

For complete results, visit

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

Men’s Foil Senior World Championships
1. Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS)
2. Jianfei Ma (CHN)
3. Enzo Lefort (FRA)
3. Timur Safin (RUS)
5. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. James-Andrew Davis (GBR)
7. Alexander Choupenitch (CZE)
8. Sebastian Bachmann (GER)

9. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
18. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)
19. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)

Women’s Foil Senior World Championships
1. Arianna Errigo (ITA)
2. Martina Batini (ITA)
3. Valentina Vezzali (ITA)
3. Ines Boubakri (TUN)
5. Elisa Di Francisca (ITA)
6. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
7. Olga Leleyko (UKR)
8. Magdalena Knop (POL)

19. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
22. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
29. Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)

Tag(s): News  Race Imboden  Alexander Massialas  Gerek Meinhardt  Miles Chamley-Watson  Lee Kiefer  Nzingha Prescod