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Doddo, Mo and Tourette Win Individual Junior Olympic Golds

02/15/2015, 9:30am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Junior men's saber gold medalist Andrew Doddo and Coach Akhi Spencer-El. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Richmond, Va.) – On the second day of a weekend of upsets, it was a 15-year-old former foil fencer who won the junior men’s saber gold medal at the USA Fencing Junior Olympic Championships on Saturday.

Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.) made the switch from foil to saber three years ago and claimed the No. 1 position in the Cadet National Team Point Standings last fall when he won gold in Godollo and silver in Konin during the first two tournaments of the Cadet European Cup circuit.

“I told myself that I wanted to start this season strong so I didn’t have to wait til JOs and be like ‘Oh, I have to win in order to be on the team and I trained so hard over the summer and I gave everyone in Europe a surprise,” Doddo said.

On Saturday, Doddo solidified his position on the 2015 Cadet World Team with his first ever gold medal at a junior national tournament.

Seeded 37th out of pools, Doddo earned a bye into the table of 128 where he defeated John Hare (Alpharetta, Ga.), 15-6, and went on to win his next bout against Paul Cepak (Morris Plains, N.J.), 15-9.

Doddo defeated Bartosz Pukal (Natick, Mass.), 15-7, in the 32 and won his table of 16 by a score of 15-12 against Marcel Dolegiewicz (Park Ridge, Ill.)

Doddo qualified for the gold medal final with a pair of 15-14 wins against Walter Musgraves (Escondido, Calif.) and Jonathan Fitzgerald (East Brunswick, N.J.)

In the gold medal final, Doddo kept his bout against 2014 Cadet World medalist Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.) close with the score tied at eight early in the second period.

Metryka went on a four-touch run, however, to take a 12-8 lead and was on track to close out the bout at 14-11 when Doddo scored three touches for a tie.

“At first I just told myself that I got second and I kind of gave up,” Doddo said. “And then I was just fencing to fence and then something clicked and then once that happened it was just on and poppin’. Then I just started getting the touches and then it was easy.”

With an energetic crowd backing both fencers, Doddo scored the final touch to win his first Junior Olympic title.

“I can’t really believe it because it hasn’t hit me yet, but when it does hit me it’s going to be good,” Doddo said when he came off the podium.  

With two events remaining before the men’s saber squad is selected for the 2015 Junior and Cadet World Championships in Uzbekistan, Doddo became the first athlete to secure his place on the team as the No. 1 athlete in the Cadet National Team Point Standings.

“It’s gonna be a crazy experience. I’m going to train really hard before Worlds because, before I won my gold medal in Europe, I trained really hard all summer and I want to go back to when I won and recreate that moment,” said Doddo who noted that he thinks being new to the circuit has played to his advantage. “In Europe I don’t know anyone. Here I know Karol. I know Jon. I know everyone. But there it’s just a bunch of people with names I don’t know and you just fence to fence. It’s great because you don’t have any expectations. You don’t know anyone’s background. You don’t say ‘Oh, I know Karol’s a bronze medalist at the World Championships’ so it’s like ‘uh oh. I have to fence him who’s done that.’ Instead it’s just like ‘Oh, I have to fence that guy from Russia.’ It’s so much more calming when you don’t know anyone’s background.”

While Doddo began the tournament with little pressure for team qualification, epee fencer

Epee fencer Belinda Mo (Irvine, Calif.) found herself in the opposite position, however. Mo came into the Junior Olympics ranked seventh and needed a podium finish to stay in contention for the Cadet World Team.

A gold medalist at the July North American Cup in 2014, Mo has struggled to advance out of the early rounds at domestic events since July.

All of that changed on Saturday when Mo came out of the pools as the top seed and held each of her first five opponents to single digit scores.

After a bye into the table of 128, Mo defeated Valerie Gatchel (Port Deposit, Md.), 15-6, and almost shut out Kriti Narayanan (Plano, Texas), 15-1, in the 64.

In her next two bouts, Mo defeated Kristina Khaw (Plainsboro, N.J.) and Pauline Hamilton (Colorado Springs, Colo.) by 15-8 scores to advance to the semifinals where she won her bout against Sancchi Kukadia (Manhasset, N.Y.), 15-7.

In the gold medal final, Mo took a 3-0 lead after the first period against 2014 Junior Olympic Champion Dasha Yefremenko (Manalapan, N.J.) and was up by 7-2 after the second. In the third period, Yefremenko scored nine touches, but Mo held on for a 15-11 win.

The victory moved Mo up from seventh to sixth in the Cadet National Team Point Standings less than 200 points separating third from sixth place as the athletes head into the junior event on Monday which will be the final qualification event for the team.

“It’s good to have won today, but I’m trying to win juniors too so I can qualify for the team. It’s a long stretch, but I think it can happen,” Mo said.

The win added another medal to the family collection as Mo was coached by her brother Kevin Mo (Irvine, Calif.) who won the Division I men’s epee event at the 2014 July NAC.

“It’s actually really comfortable being coached by my brother,” Belinda said. “Around two years ago I didn’t have a coach at all. I left my and now I have one coach that I’m taking lessons with, but he doesn’t come to the tournaments for various reasons. So my brother coaches me at tournaments and it’s actually really nice. He’s super philosophical about things so he makes really general comments that work really well in reality.”

In the cadet men’s foil event, Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.) locked in his Cadet World Team slot with his first Junior Olympic title win.

A gold medalist twice on the NAC circuit this season, Tourette finished 6-0 and dominated his first two opponents of the day with wins against Kevin Katayama (Belmar, N.J.), 15-1, and Jared Sugarman (Scarsdale, N.Y.), 15-2.

Tourette won his table of 32 bout against Jack Holmes (Houston, Texas), 15-7, and advanced to the semifinals with victories over Samuel Barmann (Providence, R.I.) and Eoin Gronningsater (Brooklyn, N.Y.) by 15-8 and 15-7 scores, respectively.

Tourette won his bout against Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.), 15-13, to qualify for the gold medal final.

In the finals, Tourette and Aiden Ahn (Los Angeles, Calif.) were tied at four touches each in the second period when Tourette scored seven one-light touches to finish out the period, 11-5.

“When you get a one light, it’s like for sure you got the touch. There’s something about one lights that makes you feel like you deserve it a little more,” Tourette said. “Aiden’s very hard to fence. It’s really hard for me to get a lead against him because he fences really cautiously and makes the right decisions so, especially in the second period when he was more tired and that’s when I started to be able to pull away.”

Although Ahn came back with three touches early in the third, Tourette finished the bout with four of his own for a 15-8 victory.

Tourette, who won gold at the Gyor Cadet European Cup and bronze in Bratislava this season, is currently ranked third in the Cadet European standings and is looking forward to his first Cadet Worlds.

“I know a lot of the international fencers and I know their skill level is great. I think every single bout is going to be at a high level. And there won’t be any ‘somebody’s tired or somebody’s injured or somebody’s not feeling it that day because it’s World Championships and it’s the biggest level there is,” Tourette said.  

In the junior women’s team foil finals, FAW took on NWFC for gold. Although NWFC took a 10-7 lead after the first two periods, FAW’s Finnula Mageras (Darien, Conn.) outscored Dolly Lampson (Tacoma, Wash.), 8-1, to give her team a lead that it never gave up as Mageras, Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.), Joanne Carminucci (Brewster, N.Y.) and Olympia Peters (Tenafly, N.J.) took the match, 45-34, over the NWFC team of Lampson, Mariah Summers (Tigard, Ore.), Nina Hambleton (Tigard, Ore.) and Aryana Abtin (Hillsboro, Ore.)

In the junior men’s team epee event, Alliance I won five bouts by margins of at least 10 touches to advance to the gold medal final where Jonathan Piskovatskov (Houston, Texas), Anton Piskovatskov (Houston, Texas), Michael Popovici (Katy, Texas) and Darius Zacharakis (Houston, Texas) took on the Windy City Fencing team of Chicago natives Oliver Shindler, Joe Taylor, Cameron Woods and Charles Roth.

Windy City Fencing kept the matches within a touch for the first three bouts, but Anton Piskovatskov anchored Alliance I to a 45-35 win and a gold medal in a field of 37 teams.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Junior Men’s Individual Saber
1. Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.)
2. Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.)
3. Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.)
3. Jonathan Fitzgerald (East Brunswick, N.J.)
5. Connor Mills (Medford, N.J.)
6. Walter Musgrave (Escondido, Calif.)
7. Jeffrey Dalli (San Carlos, Calif.)
8. Julian Merchant (New Rochelle, N.Y.)

Cadet Women’s Epee
1. Belinda Mo (Irvine, Calif.)
2. Dasha Yefremenko (Manalapan, N.J.)
3. Gigi Vierheller (Houston, Texas)
3. Huda Aldadah (Peoria, Ill.)
5. Tatijana Stewart (Ogden, Utah)
6. Sancchi Kukadia (Manhasset, N.Y.)
7. Hannah Lawson (Allen, Texas)
8. Anya Harkness (San Jose, Calif.)

Cadet Men’s Foil
1. Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.)
2. Aiden Ahn (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.)
5. Cameron Allen (Newtown, Pa.)
6. Justin Kang (Fullerton, Calif.)
6. Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.)
8. Eoin Gronningsater (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Junior Men’s Team Epee
1. Alliance Fencing Academy I
2. Windy City Fencing
3. NWFC 1
4. Alliance Fencing Academy 2
6. NCF
7. FAW-1
8. Hooked on Fencing

Junior Women’s Team Foil
1. FAW
4. Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy 1
5. Premier Fencing Club
6. CFA Team
7. Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy 2
8. Rochester Fencing Club 

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