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Kelley Hurley and Jeff Spear Win Gold at Div I Nationals in Reno

02/28/2015, 7:45am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Div I women's epee finalists (front row): Quarter-finalists Isabel Ford, Courtney Hurley, Jasmine McGlade and Amanda Sirico. (Back Row): Silver medalist Jessica O'Neill-Lyublinsky (silver), Kelley Hurley (gold), Lindsay Campbell and Ashley Severson (both

Div I men's saber National Champion Jeff Spear gave his younger brother, Will Spear, the coach award following his win. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Reno, Nev.) – London Olympians Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) each won Division I National Championship titles on Friday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

Hurley made history in 2004 when she became the youngest woman ever to win a Division I women’s epee individual national title and added a fourth to her resume on Friday. 

Ever-modest, the 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist said she was just pleased with her fencing and didn’t focus on counting titles.

“Before this competition, I told myself that I was going to win this, so, to actually do it shows determination prevails,” Hurley said. “I don’t really think about how many I’ve won in the past.”

Seeded first out of the pools, Hurley earned a bye into the table of 32 where she defeated 2014 Pan Am Sports Festival Champion Cassandra Bates (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 15-11.

Hurley won her next two bouts by 15-10 scores against 2014 Junior World Team member Nina Van Loon (Boulder, Colo.) and two-time Junior World Team member Jasmine McGlade (Chilmark, Mass.)

In the semifinals, Hurley defeated her former Senior World teammate, Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 15-6, shortly after Campbell cut off Hurley’s younger sister, Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), from a run at her own national title in the quarters with a 12-11 win.

Hurley’s gold medal final opponent would be Jessica O’Neill-Lyublinsky (North Salem, N.Y.) who defeated former Junior World team medalists Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.), 15-14, and Ashley Severson (Franklin Lakes, N.J.), 15-11, to qualify for her first Div I final.

Hurley led the first period, 4-3, and was up, 9-7, going into the third, when O’Neill-Lyublinsky scored two touches to Hurley’s one early in the final period. Neither athlete scored for the next minute and the bout was sent to overtime.

Hurley scored first with two single touches, but O’Neill-Lyublinsky answered with three singles to tie the bout at 12.

With just 23 seconds left on the clock, Hurley scored twice and doubled out to win the bout, 15-13.

“I think after 10-9, when I got a couple touches and I was like ‘ok, I’ve got this’ and then she caught back up and I got really worried. I just knew I was in trouble, but then a fire just ignited and I refused to lose it. I said ‘I’m not going to lose this now,’” Hurley said. “I think experience played a big role. I’ve been up there a lot and this is probably Jessica’s first time in a Div I final. I had a lot of confidence and knew that I really wanted to win this.”

Although Courtney finished sixth, she was in the coaching chair for Kelley in the finals.

“We’re always on each other’s side no matter what. I know she’s pretty disappointed about today, but we’ve always got each other’s back 100% no matter what. I guess I just expect her to be there and she always is, so it’s just normal for us,” Kelley said.

After years of training together, first in San Antonio and later at Notre Dame, the Hurleys recently made a move to Houston where they would still have each other, but also a whole new crop of training partners.

“Now we have consistent fencing every day and good strong people. Probably our favorite part is we get lessons directly from Andrey [Geva] who’s the national coach, so to work with him one-on-one is great. He’s doing everything he can for us,” said Kelley who is training for a possible third straight Olympic Team in Rio and noted that her fencing continues to improve and she’s looking forward to Olympic qualification beginning in April. “Now that I know that I’ve been fencing so well and part of it’s because of my training and part of it’s my confidence level, I think that’s really going to be what wins it for me in the end – the combination of experience and never giving up. I hope that will play in my favor.”

For Spear, the win in the men’s saber competition would be his first individual Division I National Championship – and his first individual National Championship since he claimed the Div III title at 14-years-old in 2002.

After a bye into the table of 32, Spear took his next two wins against cadet fencers Andrew Sun (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.) by 15-5 and 15-7 scores, respectively.

Spear took a 15-10 win against 2014 Cadet World bronze medalist Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.) in the quarters to qualify for the semis where defeated eighth-ranked Gabe Armijo (San Diego, Calif.), 15-9.

In the gold medal final, Spear fenced Calvin Liang (Chandler, Ariz.) – a two-time Cadet World Team member who was looking for a career-best Div I result in Reno to propel him into a position on the 2015 Junior World Team.

Spear controlled the bout early and took a 6-1 lead in the first before closing out the period, 8-3. Liang picked up two late touches in the second period, but couldn’t get past Spear who won the bout, 15-8, and let out a shout of excitement after the bout ended.

“When I was fencing at the end, I kind of forgot it was for a National Championship. And then when I scored the last touch it was just like ‘Oh! I won! That’s great!’ and that’s why there was kind of a delayed scream. But I’m still a little dazed. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Spear said. “I was focused on fencing well, having fun, just fencing the person in front of me. I never knew who I was fencing next. It was just ‘I’m fencing this person, now on to the next.’”

Following his win, Spear gave the coach’s medal to his younger brother, Will Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) who was in Jeff’s box for each round, despite losing in the table of 64 himself. .

“Will is just going to say ‘of course. Of course I did that. You’re my brother and I’m going to be there for you,’” Spear said. “I love having him on the strip with me. He has really good advice, but, more importantly, he makes me happy and keeps me calm.”

His latest gold medal puts Spear in a good position as the No. 2-ranked fencer in the nation to qualify for the Pan American Championships in April.

Pan Ams marks the start of the one-year qualification period for the Olympic Games.

“Winning Zonals is my goal, but I’m honestly really just excited for qualification to start. It’s a really different beast,” said Spear said who qualified for London as part of Team USA and will be aiming for one of two individual slots in 2024. “Some people take the pressure and perform and some people fold. I really think that’s what makes the difference.”

While the race for Div I gold was going on in men’s saber, a group of junior and cadet fencers continued to chase points in order to qualify for the 2015 Junior and Cadet World Teams which will compete in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April.

In the junior event, 2014 Junior World team bronze medalists Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) and Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.) had their positions locked up from past results earlier in the season. With Div I Nationals as the final qualification tournament for Junior Worlds, a trio of athletes were in contention, including Liang, 2013 Senior Pan Am Team Champion Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.) and 2014 Cadet World Team member Ben Natanzon (Manalapan, N.J.)

Natanzon fell out of contention with a 15-11 loss to two-time Junior World Team member Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.) in the table of 32 which brought the race down to just Shainberg and Liang.

Shainberg needed to make the quarters to secure his position on the team and did so with a nailbiter in the 16 over Thomas Kolasa (Princeton, N.J.), 15-14.

The win would pit Shainberg against Liang in the quarters and, although Liang earned a 15-10 win, Shainberg’s position on the team was secured. Due to his silver medal finish, Liang would pass Natanzon in the team standings and will travel to Uzbekistan as a member of the squad and will fence in the team event only where Team USA will attempt to return to the podium after taking bronze in 2014.

All three of the top cadet men’s saber fencers in the nation competed in Reno as well to secure their positions on the Cadet World Team. Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.) lost to Spear in the table of 16, but the reigning Junior Olympic Champion still hung onto the top spot in the team rankings. Dawson Sieradzky (Wayne, N.J.) earned a career-best top-eight to hold onto the No. 2 position on the team and Andrew Sun (Alpharetta, Ga.) took the third spot after he upset Mackiewicz, 15-12, in the table of 64.

In addition to the Div I Nationals, 12 gold medals also were awarded in March North American Cup events.

Six months after learning to fence, wheelchair epeeist Vikki Espinosa (Portland, Ore.) won her first NAC gold medal with a 15-13 finals victory over four-time Paralympian Andrea De Mello (New York, N.Y.)

In the men’s epee event, 2013 Wheelchair World Team member Leo Curtis (Rainier, Ore.) advanced to his first gold medal final and nearly claimed the NAC title, but missed the win by a touch with his loss to Aleksandr Ibragimov (RUS), 15-14.

As the second of three qualifying events for the 2015 Veteran World Championships for athletes ages 50 and older, the veteran events at the March NAC saw four athletes lock in their positions on Team USA.

In a repeat of the 50-59 women’s foil gold medal final from the December NAC, 2015 Vet World Champion Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.) took on her former Brooklyn College teammate and 2014 Vet World bronze medalist Anne-Marie Walters (Parkland, Fla.) While Walters won their bout in December, Starks-Faulkner took this victory, 10-3. With each athlete holding a gold and a silver medal so far in the best-of-three tournament qualification process, both Starks-Faulkner and Walters have earned enough points to qualify for their ninth and 10th Veteran World Teams, respectively.

In the +70 women’s foil event, Ruth Dodge (Casa Grande, Ariz.) earned her second gold medal of the season with a 10-7 win in the finals against three-time Veteran World medalist Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.) Dodge’s back-to-back titles will allow her to qualify for a third straight Vet World Team when the athletes are named after the Veteran National Championships in June.

Fencing in his first season as a +70 epeeist after aging out from the 60-69 event, Frank Hewitt (Jamul, Calif.) won his second straight NAC title to qualify for his first Veteran World Team. Hewitt began his final bout against four-time Veteran World medalist Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.) conservatively with both athletes scoring a pair of double touches. Hewitt followed with a run of eight straight singles to take gold, 10-2.

Two-time Vet World Team member Kristin Vines (Hixson, Tenn.) kept herself in contention for a third team in the 50-59 foil event with her first podium finish of the season. Vines earned a 10-7 win against her 2014 teammate, Lynn Botelho (Indiana, Pa.), in the final bout to take gold.

A 1992 Olympian for Poland, Marek Stepien (Orland Park, Ill.) won gold at his first national veteran competition at the 2014 Summer Nationals and returned to the top of the 50-59 epee podium in Reno after he defeated Mark Segal (Upland, Calif.), 10-5, in the finals.

After winning bronze in the 60-69 men’s epee event at the December NAC, 2011 Vet World bronze medalist Drew Ridge (Warminster, Pa.) shot up the rankings with a 10-7 win against William Walker (Redwood City, Calif.) in the finals.

Four individual veteran events were held in categories that are not contested at the Vet Worlds.

Three-time Olympian Ann Marsh-Senic (Royal Oak, Mich.) won her fourth straight gold medal in the 40-49 women’s foil event where she defeated Diane Ferguson (Rockville, Md.), 10-1. Marsh-Senic will fence again on Saturday in the Division I event where she placed fifth last year at 42-years-old.

Veteran 40-49 men’s epee fencer David Hitchcock (Purcellville, Va.) defeated Creston Bailey (Escondido, Calif.), 5-4, in overtime to win his first NAC gold medal.

In the open competitions, John Kissingford (Ouray, Colo.) and Jody Ambalong (Sacramento, Calif.) won the men’s foil and women’s saber events, respectively. Both athletes won their final bouts by 10-3 scores with Kissingford defeating Andrey Tyshchenko (AUS) and Ambalong beating Frauke Berman (New York, N.Y.)

In the women’s veteran team epee competition, The Needles won the gold medal final, 45-24, against We Were Here Anyway. Anchored by three-time Vet Open NAC Champion Ann Totemeier (Boulder, Colo.), The Needles also included reigning 60-69 Vet World Champion Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.), 2013 Vet World Team member Marcia Pierce (Richmond, Ky.) and 2012 Vet World Team member Ellen Finnegan (West Roxbury, Mass.)

Fencers Club of Arizona continued its undefeated reign in the men’s team saber event where Justin Meehan (Vancouver, Wash.) anchored teammates Bill Becker (Chandler, Ariz.), Mike Krasnich (CAN) and 2010 Veteran World silver medalist Donald Anthony Jr. (Columbus, Ohio) to a 45-40 win over the 300 team.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight results are as follows:

Division I Women’s Epee
1. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
2. Jessica O’Neill-Lyublinsky (North Salem, N.Y.)
3. Ashley Severson (Franklin Lakes, N.J.)
3. Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
5. Isabel Ford (Salem, Ore.)
6. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
7. Jasmine McGlade (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
8. Amanda Sirico (Washington, D.C.)

Division I Men’s Saber
1. Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
2. Calvin Liang (Chandler, Ariz.)
3. Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.)
3. Gabe Armijo (San Diego, Calif.)
5. Dawson Sieradzky (Wayne, N.J.)
6. Peter Souders (Silver Spring
7. Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.)
8. Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.)

Wheelchair Men’s Epee
1. Aleksandr Ibragimov (RUS)
2. Leo Curtis (Rainier, Ore.)
3. Tareq Alqallaf (KUW)
3. Joey Brinson (Florence, Miss.)
5. Curt Oswalt (Von Ormy, Texas)
6. Dennis Aspy (Woodstock, Ga.
7. DeJuan Surrell (Jackson, Miss.)
8. Randy Lavender (Tupelo, Miss.)

Wheelchair Women’s Epee
1. Vikki Espinosa (Portland, Ore.)
2. Andrea De Mello (New York, N.Y.)
3. Patricia Dykes (Gulf Breeze, Fla.)

Veteran 40-49 Men’s Epee
1. David Hitchcock (Purcellville, Va.)
2. Creston Bailey (Escondido, Calif.)
3. Erich Cranor (Portland, Ore.)
3. Alexandre Rachtchinine (Ashburn, Va.)
5. Alberto Felix (San Rafael, Calif.)
6. Max Chernyshov (Yardley, Pa.)
7. Joseph Deucher (Las Vegas)
8. Jansen Hu (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)

Veteran 50-50 Men’s Epee
1. Marek Stepien (Orland Park, Ill.)
2. Mark Segal (Upland, Calif.)
3. Benoit Pouliquen (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
3. Eric Warlaumont (Portland, Ore.)
5 John Varney (Issaquah, Wash.)
6. Walter Dragonetti (Las Vegas, Nev.)
7. Christopher Hagen (Brooklyn Center, Minn.)
8. Timothy Gillham (Madison, Wis.)

Veteran 60-69 Men’s Epee
1. Drew Ridge (Warminster, Pa.)
2. William Walker (Redwood City, Calif.)
3. John Moreau (San Marcos, Texas)
3. William “Gypsy” Gelnaw (Fullerton, Calif.)
5. Thomas Henzler (Houston, Texas)
6. Timothy Glass (Deerfield, Ill.)
7. Theodore Pary (Highland, Md.)
8. Lou Mariani (Santa Clara, Calif.)

Veteran +70 Men’s Epee
1. Frank Hewitt (Jamul, Calif.)
2. James Adams (Rockville, Md.)
3. Jonathan Jefferies (Almeda, Calif.)
3. Arnold Messing (Brooklyn, N.J.)
5. Kaz Campe (Edgewater, Md.)
6. John McGrew (San Ramon, Calif.)
7. Ruben Grigoryan (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
8. Joseph Cohen (Cape May Court House, N.J.)

Veteran Open Men’s Foil
1. John Kissingford (Ouray, Colo.)
2. Andrey Tyshchenko (AUS)
3. Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.)
3. David Drake (San Diego, Calif.)
5. Nathan Anderson (Denver, Colo.)
6. Michael Cho (Northville, Mich.)
7. Julian Tang (CAN)
8. Reynaldo Navarro (Irvine, Calif.)

Veteran 40-49 Women’s Foil
1. Ann Marsh-Senic (Royal Oak, N.Y.)
2. Diane Ferguson (Rockville, Md.)
3. Karen Ladenheim-Martos (El Cerrito, Calif.)
3. Cindy Findlay (Columbus, Ohio)
5. Doina Bogdan (Valley Village, Calif.)
6. Margaret Fagan (New York, N.Y.)
7. Pamela Dressel (Mount Airy, Md.)
8. Claire Lee (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Veteran 50-59 Women’s Foil
1. Kristin Vines (Hixson, Tenn.)
2. Lynn Botelho (Indiana, Pa.)
3. Ursula Szpak (Trophy Club, Texas)
3. Rachel Brown (Chicago, Ill.)
5. Michelle Verhave (Purdys, N.Y.)
6. Monica Morrison (Seattle, Wash.)
7. Irina Gritsaeva (Midvale, Utah)
8. Suzanne Brown Marx (Portland, Ore.)

Veteran 60-69 Women’s Foil
1. Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.)
2. Anne-Marie Walters (Parkland, Fla.)
3. Debra Allen (Ashland, Ore.)
3. Judith Offerle (Winnetka, Ill.)
5. Lynnette Whitt (Owings, Md.)
6. Madelon Rosenfeld (New York, N.Y.)
7. Nora Gutkovskaya (Fair Lawn, N.J.)
8. Joanne Stevens (New York, N.Y.)

Veteran +70 Women’s Foil
1. Ruth Dodge (Casa Grande, Ariz.)
2. Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.)
3. Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.)
3. Diane Reckling (White Plains, N.Y.)
5. Tatyana Sloane (Cambridge, Mass.)

Veteran Open Women’s Saber
1. Jody Ambalong (Sacramento, Calif.)
2. Frauke Berman (New York, N.Y.)
3. Chaz Smith (Placerville, Calif.)
3. Laura DeSimone (Fernley, Nev.)
5. Nona Lim (Oakland, Calif.)
6. Nam Heui Kim (Brookline, Mass.)
7. Kimberly Klein-Braddock (West Linn, Ore.)
8. Michelle Orton-Becker (Chandler, Ariz.)

Veteran Team Women’s Epee
1. The Needles
2. We Were Here Anyway
4. Candlewood coyOtes
5. BCJ + Company
6. West Coast Tsunami
7. The Pins
8. Frankie’s Angels

Veteran Team Men’s Saber
1. Fencers Club of Arizona
2. 300

Editor's Note: In the original version of this story, it was noted that Kelley Hurley broke the record for most Div I individual national titles. That record is five and is currently held by Courtney Hurley. 

Tag(s): News  Courtney Hurley  Kelley Hurley  Jeff Spear  Anne-Marie Walters