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First-Time Junior Olympic Champions Crowned, Junior Women’s World Foil Team Named in Richmond

02/14/2015, 6:00pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Junior men's epee gold medalist Anton Piskovatskov and Coach Sergey Danilov. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Richmond, Va.) – Individual titles were awarded in the junior men’s epee and women’s foil as well as cadet women’s saber events on the first day competition at the USA Fencing Junior Olympic Championships in Richmond, Va. on Friday.

In the junior men’s epee event, Anton Piskovatskov (Houston, Texas) entered the tournament as the top seed and favorite for gold, but this year’s Junior Olympics came with a new level of pressure for the 18-year-old who just received U.S. citizenship in September.

Born in Israel, Piskovatskov moved to the United States at age four and his permanent resident status allowed him to compete, but not to represent Team USA at the World Championships or Junior World Cups.

All of that changed when Piskovatskov’s citizenship came through just in time for this year’s Junior World Cup circuit.

Piskovatskov placed fifth in his debut appearance on the circuit in Bratislava in November, earning Team USA’s best men’s epee result of the season on the circuit.

Despite his top seed at the start of the tournament, Piskovatskov dropped two pool bouts and found himself seeded 65th in the table of 256.

After a 15-6 wins against Daniel Swerzenski (Oak Ridge, N.J.) and Avery Vella (Bridgewater, N.J.), Piskovatskov defeated Hans Engel (New York, N.Y.), the top seed out of the pools, by a score of 15-8.

In the table of 32, Piskovatskov fenced one of his most challenging opponents of the day – his 14-year-old brother Jonathan.

The bout would be their third of the season for Anton against Jonathan who is in contention for the Cadet World Team himself.

“It’s really hard psychologically because, even though he’s your teammate and family member, you’ve still gotta focus and put the pressure on and just keep moving,” Anton said.

The elder brother would come away with a 15-12 win to qualify for the table of 16 where Piskovatskov defeated John Poremski (Palmdale, Calif.), 15-10.

In the quarter-finals, Piskovatskov faced won of his rivals for a position on this year’s Junior World Team – Wesley Johnson (Pleasant View, Utah) – and won the bout by a score of 15-6.

Piskovatskov’s semifinal opponent, Adrien Thein-Sandler (Topanga, Calif.), was fencing in the medal rounds for the first time at a junior event, but nearly pulled an upset before Piskovatskov closed the bout, 15-13.

In the gold medal final, Piskovatskov fenced Samuel Blackwood (Lincroft, N.J.) who was having the best day of his young career after qualifying for the finals in just his second appearance in a junior event at the Junior Olympics.

Blackwood fenced well, but Piskovatskov came through for a 15-9 victory.

The win keeps Piskovatskov at third in the Junior Men’s Epee National Team standings with two tournaments remaining before the four team members are selected for the squad that will represent Team USA at the Junior World Championships which will be held April 1-9 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

“There’s a lot more pressure now that I can represent the United States, but I train much harder too,” Piskovatskov said. “It’s just difficult, but it’s really fun and it pays off to be doing well and hopefully I’ll make the team because it’s my dream to go to Worlds.”

For four women’s foil fencers, their goal of competing at the Junior World Championships came to fruition on Friday as well.

The first squad of the team was announced on Friday night and top-three fencers Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.) were selected to represent Team USA in the individual events.

Massialas, the 2014 Youth Olympic Champion, holds two Cadet World silver medals and anchored Team USA to a gold medal in the team event at the 2014 Junior Worlds. Taffel won silver with Team USA in 2013, but will be making her debut as an individual fencer this year. A 2014 Cadet World Team member, Blow will be fencing for the first time in the junior event, but has made her presence known on the circuit this season with both a Junior World Cup gold and silver as well as her first Junior Pan American title.

As all three fencers had their positions secured prior to the start of the Junior Olympics, they were not in attendance at the JOs.

Morgan Partridge (Swansea, Mass.), a two-time Cadet World Team member, finished 33rd in the junior competition, but her No. 4 ranking allowed Partridge to qualify for the junior squad where she will compete as Team USA’s fourth athlete in the team event.

Due to her schedule as a sophomore at Princeton, Ashley Tsue (Overland Park, Kans.) did not travel on the Junior World Cup circuit this season and, as such, would be out of contention for a position on the Junior World Team, but the lack of pressure may have helped Tsue succeed as the 2014 Division IA National Champion won her first Junior Olympic gold medal in her final year of eligibility.

Seeded fourth out of pools, Tsue defeated Emma Filer (Hampstead, N.C.), 15-3, in the table of 128 and won her next two bouts by 15-9 scores against Galina Gordon (Millstone Township, N.J.) and Finnula Mageras (Darien, Conn.)

In the table of 16, Tsue defeated Simone Unwalla (Great Falls, Va.), 15-10, and went on to win the quarter-finals, 14-12, against Samantha Viqueira (Maplewood, N.J.)

Although Tsue fenced 2014 Cadet World Team member Stefani Deschner (Mechanicsville, Va.) in front of Deschner’s hometown crowd, Tsue controlled the bout, taking a 10-2 lead in the second period and finishing the bout with a 15-5 victory.

The win set up a gold medal final between Tsue and Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.), a cadet silver medalist at both the 2013 and 2014 Junior Olympics.

Neither athlete seemed drained by the eight-hour competition and the bout started off at a fast pace and both athletes made quick attacks with Tsue building upon her lead until she won the bout, 15-8, late in the first period.

“That actually surprised me … ending in the first period usually never happens in women’s foil. I don’t know how it happened,” Tsue said. “But I think Quinn was putting a lot of pressure on me. Normally I don’t fence that way. Normally I use all three periods and take as much time as I need. I like to go a little bit slower usually and set up my preparation a little more, but it works.”

While much of the Junior Olympics revolves around points and team qualification, Tsue said she came to her final tournament with no expectations.

“I just came here to fence and practice. I’ve had tournaments the last few weeks and it’s been five consecutive tournaments or something, but it was a great experience and I’m so happy to be here,” Tsue said. “I’ve never actually won a junior event, so it’s just kind of breathtaking right now.”

Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.), a 2014 Cadet World Team member, came one step closer to qualifying for her second team when she won gold in the cadet women’s saber event on Friday.

Michel went undefeated in the pools to earn a bye into the table of 64 where she fenced her most difficult bout of the day, but came away with a 15-12 win over Nora Burke (New York, N.Y.)

Michel won her next two bouts against Kelli Ivenson (Atlanta, Ga.) and Casey Chen (Cresskill, N.J.) by 15-7 and 15-2 scores, respectively, to advance to the quarter-finals.

In the quarters, Michel defeated Daniella Timofeyev (Antelope, Calif.), 15-12, and went on to win her semifinal bout against Miranda Gieg (Sudbury, Mass.), 15-8.

Michel took an early lead against Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.) in the finals before winning the bout, 15-9.

“This is my last cadet competition nationally so it feels good to go out with a gold,” said Michel who has three more events before the Cadet World Team is selected.” I feel like I always fence my best when there’s team pressure. I know last year at JOs was some of my best fencing and also I was just having a lot of fun today. I was having fun with my teammates; having fun with my coach; and just having fun fencing, so I guess that’s why I did well.”

In the first team competition of the tournament, Cardinal Fencers won the junior men’s team saber title.

Cardinal Fencers held a 35-32 lead after the seventh bout in the gold medal final in which Royce Wang (San Jose, Calif.) edged Siegfried Gokea (New York, N.Y.), 5-4. The setup bout would be critical, however as Samuel Kwong (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) defeated NYAC Red’s Mikolaj Bak (Linden, N.J.), 4-1, to give Cardinal Fencers a 40-33 lead going into the final match. Jeffrey Dalli (San Carlos, Calif.) came in as anchor against 2014 Cadet World medalist Karol Metryka (Lidnen, N.J.) and finished the win for the Cardinal Fencers, 45-35.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Cadet Women’s Individual Saber
1. Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.)
2. Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
3. Miranda Gieg (Sudbury, Mass.)
3. Martha Lasota (Silver Spring, Md.)
5. Daniella Timofeyev (Antelope, Calif.)
6. Maia Chamberlain (Manlo Park, Calif.)
7. Esther Bentolila (Hollywood, Fla.)
8. Alexis Anglade (Alpharetta, Ga.)

Junior Men’s Individual Epee
1. Anton Piskovatskov (Houston, Texas)
2. Samuel Blackwood (Lincroft, N.J.)
3. John Cramerus (Sugar Land, Texas)
3. Adrien Thein-Sandler (Topanga, Calif.)
5. Wesley Johnson (Pleasant Grove, Utah)
6. Sean Wilson (Houston, Texas)
7. Robin Cheong (San Antonio, Texas)
8. Michael Popovici (Katy, Texas)

Junior Women’s Individual Foil
1. Ashley Tsue (Overland Park, Kans.)
2. Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.)
3. Natalie Yang (Colts Neck, N.J.)
3. Stefani Deschner (Mechanicsville, Va.)
5. Danielle Ferdon (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. Sharon Chen (Diamond Bar, Calif.)
7. Samantha Viqueira (Maplewood, Calif.)
8. Taylor Chin (Cupertino, Calif.)

Junior Men’s Team Saber
1. Cardinal Fencers
2. NYAC Red
3. Fencing Academy of Denver I
4. SON
5. Metro-NYC
6. Medeo Fencing Club
7. Candlewood Fencing Center
8. PDX Team Green

Tag(s): News  Sabrina Massialas