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Pryor Climbs Rankings with First National Title, Lu Claims Fourth Gold at Division I Nationals

03/02/2015, 5:30am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

DIv I Epee National Champion Jason Pryor. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

Margaret Lu won her fourth Div I National Championship in foil. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Reno, Nev.) – Epee fencer Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and foilist Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) each came to the Division I National Championships looking for both a gold medal and a chance at qualifying for a third Senior World Team.

Both athletes began the day ranked fifth in the National Team Standings and needing a good result to close the gap on the fourth position – the final individual slot for Senior World Team selection.

Seeded fourth out of pools, Pryor opened the day with a 15-12 win against Elias Johnson (U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.) in the table of 64 and defeated Zachary Zeller (Henderson, Nev.), 15-10, in the table of 32.

After a 15-8 win against 2012 Junior World Team member Dylan Nollner (Ogden, Utah), Pryor fenced Adam Maczik (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and defeated his former U.S. Olympic Training Center teammate, 15-9.

Pryor won his semifinal bout against 2012 Senior World Team Champion Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.), 15-7.

“Alex Abend came up with a plan for me to keep Ben from preparing. Ben’s amazing at preparing touches. He’s a bruiser at that. His 6-8 can rip a blade out of anybody’s hand so the key is to keep putting pressure on him to keep him from developing anything, shooting on him and making him super uncomfortable, pulling the tempo to a level that I was having trouble keeping it at,” Pryor said. “I beat Ben, but after I was done I was winded and I haven’t been winded at a national tournament in years. If I’m beaten it’s never because I’m tired and this was at another level.”

In the gold medal final, Pryor and Dwight Smith (Elmont, N.Y.) took three straight passivity calls to finish the regulation time at 0-0 and send the bout into an overtime minute.

“Dwight’s very good defensively. He’s one of the best defensive fencers out there and I was tired,” said Pryor who noted  My plan was to go for three minutes. I knew that three minutes of fighting against Dwight, I would force him to come after me so he gave me the first two passivities and, on the last one, I engaged to try and find  a touch, but he was just waiting for the mistake and, at our level, if you overfence, you will get punished. You will get punished bad. And Dwight has been fencing amazing all day. So if I came out without the perfect action, I was going to eat a parry eight riposte to my face. So, since he didn’t give me anything, we went to priority.”

Pryor was awarded priority, but still went on the offensive and took an early lead at 3-1. Smith scored twice to tie the bout at three with 17 seconds remaining.

“I got a little passive. Too much waiting to pull him out for something long to pick the short target. I really should have been more aggressive about crashing in, but Dwight’s a very good fencer. He can find touches,” Pryor said. “It would be a bit much to think that I was going to go 6-1 in a minute against Dwight. He came back and he fought for it and then it was tied so it came down to he needed the touch and he had enough time, but not that much time.”

As the clock ran down, Smith couldn’t pick up another single and the athletes scored a trio of doubles to finish the bout, 6-6. As Pryor had priority he was awarded the win.

“I haven’t won in a while. I’ve been preparing really strongly for the next couple tournaments so it’s good when your actions realize what you’ve been planning for,” Pryor said.

The win shot Pryor up from No. 5 to No. 2 in the rankings with one qualifying tournament remaining before the team is selected that will compete at the Pan American Zonal Championships – the first qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympic Games.

“I try to separate points and what I need to do. I have a mental routine I go through for every bout. I have a list of things I need to do for every bout and at the bottom of the list is winning. It’s like ‘Have fun. Fight. Go through all the actions. Fight.’ And then the winning comes later,” Pryor said. “You can screw yourself up if you think too hard about the fact that you have to deliver. You can’t win every bout all at once. You have to focus on what’s in front of you and let the day develop.”

Currently, Bratton leads the National Team Point Standings with Pryor in second and 2014 Senior World Team member Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in third. Maczik’s quarter-final finish moved him into a career-high fourth.

The men’s epee athletes have one international tournament remaining before the team is named for Zonals and two before the Senior World Team is selected, but Pryor remains confident in his teammates and their ability to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Games.

“We need to have the right guys at Zonals and then we need to win the Zone. We need to come out ahead of most probably Venezuela at the World Championships and then we’ll qualify the team. Then we can go back to strangling each other to make said team,” said Pryor who was part of the team that upset Korea and Russia to place fifth at the Vancouver World Cup in February. “But first thing’s first, we need to deliver in team in the zone. Me, Ben, Jimmy and Andras have been fencing very well as a unit. Vancouver was a very positive result, so if we can repeat that in Zone, we can win, no doubt in my mind.”

While Pryor began the weekend aiming for his first individual Div I National Championship title, Lu carried the pressure of aiming for her fourth at just 20-years-old.

Lu came out of the pools as the top seed, but would face a tough first opponent in three-time Olympian Ann Marsh-Senic (Royal Oak, Mich.) Marsh-Senic kept the bout close early on, but Lu went on to close it out, 15-3. After a 15-9 win over junior fencer Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.) in the quarters, Lu would fence 2012 Olympian Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) in the semis.

With Lu up, 11-9, Ross scored two to tie the bout at 11. Lu answered with four straight to win the bout, 15-11.

“I haven’t beaten Nicole in a long time in competition. We practice together almost every day, either at Columbia or other places so we’re really familiar with each other’s fencing, with each other’s styles. And we’re U.S. National Teammates, so she knows my fencing really well,” Lu said. “I don’t think I’ve beaten her since 2010 in the Senior National Championships that first time I won when I beat her in the final. I was really happy with that, but, of course, how I fenced is what I’m more concerned with and I think I was fencing well.”

Lu would go on to fence 2014 Youth Olympic Games Champion Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) in the gold medal final.

Ranked No. 4 in the nation, this was Massialas’s first gold medal final at a Div I Nationals and a win by Lu would help close the gap on her former Junior World teammate.

Massialas tied the score at five in the second period and kept the bout close as she held Lu to a two-touch lead at 9-7. Lu finished the bout with a six-touch run to take a 15-7 victory.

Massialas remains in fourth and Lu in fifth going into the Havana Grand Prix in March which will be the final qualifying tournament for both the 2015 Zonal and Senior World Championship Teams.

“Sabrina has gotten a lot better and the last time we fenced was Gdansk at the Senior World Cup and she beat me to make the second day and it was 15-9. It wasn’t super close and I came away from that just thinking about how I have to improve and it motivated me to work a lot harder so I had an idea of what to expect,” Lu said. “I try to approach each competition the same – to do my best and improve my fencing. I’m always trying to win. I felt I did a decent job. I ended up practicing some actions that I’ve been working on and I’m satisfied with how the day went.”

In the team events, NYAC Red came out on top in both women’s epee and men’s saber.

NYAC Red’s women’s epee lineup included three of the top eight finishers in the individual event: 2012 Olympic team bronze medalists Courtney and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and their former Senior World teammate Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Their gold medal final opponents from the DC Fencers Club included 2014 Junior World team silver medalist Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.), 2014 Division I National Champion Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (Bethesda, Md.), Rebecca Chimahusky (Wheaton, Md.) and two-time Veteran World Team member Valerie Asher (Bethesda, Md.)

DC Fencers Club held a 15-7 lead after the first three periods, but Hurley outscored Chimahusky, 15-8, in the fourth to give NYAC Red a 24-23 lead. After two blanked bouts, Kelley Hurley won the eighth against Sirico, 5-3, and Courtney Hurley took out Guzzi Vincenti, 12-9, to win the match, 41-35.

The NYAC would take both gold and silver in the Div I men’s saber team competition where NYAC Red’s team of 2012 Olympian Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.), four-time Senior World Team member Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.) and 2011 Junior World Team members Will Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.Y.) won eight of nine bouts for a 45-29 victory over NYAC White’s MIkolaj Bak (Linden, N.J.), Andrew Fischl (Huntington, N.Y.), Rienzi Gokea (New York City, N.Y.) and 2014 Cadet World bronze medalist Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.)

Wheelchair fencer SFC (Ret.) Patricia Dykes (Gulf Breeze, Fla.) won her first NAC title in the foil competition where she defeated Vikki Espinosa (Portland, Ore.), 15-4, on the heels of Espinosa’s epee gold medal win on Friday.

The wheelchair men’s foil competition came down to a rematch between former Wheelchair World Champion Tareq Alqallaf (KUW) and Aleksandr Ibragimov (RUS). While the Russian won gold in epee on Friday, Alqallaf took the foil title, 15-7.

In the veteran events, a pair of Veteran World Champions solidified their positions on the 2015 Vet World Team with gold medal wins in the women’s saber events.

Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.), a four-time individual Veteran World Champion, won her second straight NAC title to guarantee herself a position on the 2015 team where she will attempt to win her third straight Vet World gold in the 60-69 event. In a repeat of the December NAC final, Eyre fenced two-time Vet World medalist Jeannine Bender (Arlington, Va.) and won the gold, 10-8. While Bender was forced to decline her position on the 2014 team due to other commitments, her pair of NAC silvers should secure her a position on Team USA when the athletes are named in July after the National Championships are held as the final event in the best-of-three selection.  

A two-time Vet World Champion in the +70 saber event, Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.) won her eighth straight +70 saber NAC title on Saturday. O’Leary fenced her 2011 Vet World teammate, Diane Hiatt (Sparks, Nev.) in the final and won the bout, 10-6. Hiatt, who just aged up from the 60-69 category, is set to qualify for her first Vet World Team as a +70 fencer after placing second behind O’Leary in December as well.

In the Vet 50-59 saber competition, Donna Pepe (Oxford, Conn.) won her first NAC title in the 50-59 event after taking an open gold in 2013. Pepe defeated 2011 Veteran World bronze medalist Lydia Mazorol (Simi Valley, Calif.), 10-5. Both Pepe and Mazorol are expected to qualify for the 2015 team as Pepe won bronze in December and Mazorol holds two silvers.

On the men’s side, four-time Veteran World Team member Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.) won the 50-59 foil title, 10-7, over Reynaldo Navarro (Irvine, Calif.) in the finals.

Reigning National Champion Joseph Streb (Columbus, Ohio) won his first NAC foil title of the new season in 60-69 foil after the two-time Veteran World medalist took gold in saber at the December NAC. Streb fenced seven-time Vet World Team member Thomas Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.) in the finals and won the bout, 10-4. While Lutton lost the bout, he won his second silver medal of the new season and is a top contender for the 2015 Vet World Team.

In the +70 men’s foil event, Joseph Cohen (Cape May Court House, N.J.) won his first NAC title after defeating December NAC bronze medalist Donald Melchior (Framingham, Mass.), 10-5, in the gold medal final.

Two veteran events were contested in age groups that are not included in the Vet World Championships.

In the 40-49 men’s foil event, 2014 Pan American Veteran Champion Nathan Anderson (Denver, Colo.) won his second NAC title of the season after he defeated Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.), 10-3, in the finals.

The reigning national champion in women’s 40-49 saber, Dawn Wilson (Louisville, Ky.), won gold again with a 10-5 final victory over Natalia Oblonsky (New York, N.Y.)

In the veteran team competitions, FAN A defeated Victorious Secret, 45-24, in the gold medal final. Sang Lee (Las Vegas, Nev.) anchored the squad that included Eli Delgado (Henderson, Nev.), Walter Dragonetti (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Evan Ranes (Henderson, Nev.)

In the veteran women’s foil team event, three-time Olympian Ann Marsh-Senic (Oak Ridge, Mich.) went from fencing the Division I event to joining her Hammertime teammates 1999 Senior World Team member Tasha Poissant (Happy Valley, Ore.), Cindy Findlay (Columbus, Ohio) and Elif Sachs (Somerville, Mass.) Hammertime took on Misc Fencers in the finals and dominated their opponents, 45-24.

In the Division III women’s epee event, Kalista Vera (Chico, Calif.) won gold at her first-ever NAC when she defeated Hanna Nguyen (Las Vegas, Nev.), 15-14, in the gold medal final.

The Division III men’s saber final also came down to the final touch with Kevin Chen (Sunnyvale, Calif.) winning his bout against Joshua Meehan (Vancouver, Calif.), 15-14.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Division I Men’s Epee
1. Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
2. Dwight Smith (Elmont, N.Y.)
3. Kevin Mo (Irvine, Calif.)
3. Ben Bratton (New York, N.Y.)
5. Lewis Weiss (Houston, Texas)
6. Alex House (Upton, Mass.)
7. Adam Maczik (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
8. Teddy Sherrill (New York, N.Y.)

Division I Women’s Foil
1. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
2. Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Nicole McKee (Valley Stream, N.Y.)
3. Nicole Ross (New York, N.Y.)
5. Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.)
6. Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.)
7. Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.)
8. Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.)

Division I Women’s Team Epee
1. NYAC Red
2. DC Fencers Club
3. NYAC White
4. Fencers Club
5. Marx Fencing Academy
6. Columbia/Barnard Fencing
7. Peter Westbrook Foundation

Division I Men’s Team Saber
1. NYAC Red
2. NYAC White
3. PWF
4. Fencers Club of Arizona

Wheelchair Men’s Foil
1. Tareq Alqallaf (KUW)
2. Aleksandr Ibragimov (RUS)
3. Randy Lavender (Tupelo, Miss.)

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

Veteran 40-49 Men’s Foil
1. Nathan Anderson (Denver, Colo.)
2. Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.)
3. John Kissingford (Ouray, Colo.)
3. Stefano Grossi (Newport Beach, Calif.0
5. Kristian Anderson (Lincoln, Neb.)
6. Darwin Martos (El Cerrito, Calif.)
7. Patrick Jones (Oakland, Calif.)
8. Rolando Balboa (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Veteran 50-59 Men’s Foil
1. Jamie Douraghy (Los Angeles, Calif.)
2. Reynaldo Navarro (Irvine, Calif.)
3. Emanuel Voyiaziakis (Long Beach, N.Y.)
3. Robert Pavlovich (Manhasset, N.Y.)
5. Semion Kiriakidi (Rochester, N.Y.)
6. Roustam Pimoutkine (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
7. Greer McMullen Sr. (Atlanta, Ga.)
8. Michael Chin (Mercer Island, Wash.)

Veteran 60-69 Men’s Foil
1. Joe Streb (Columbus, Ohio)
2. Thomas Lutton (Cupertino, Calif.)
3. Philippe Bennett (New York, N.Y.)
3. Ron Daugherty (St. Louis, Mo.)
5. Jan Patterson (Seattle, Wash.)
6. Henri Darricau (Littleton, Colo.)
7. Marek Piatkowski-Nazarro (Pasadena, Calif.)
8. Hideyo Mimata (Chigasaki City, Kans.)

Veteran +70 Men’s Foil
1. Joseph Cohen (Cape May Court House, N.J.)
2. Donald Melchior (Framingham, Mass.)
3. Davis Carvey (Seattle, Wash.)
3. Gaby Weisz (CAN)
5. William Barwick Jr. (Potomac, Md.)
6. Tung-Shan Chang (Lexington, Mass.)
7. Jim Adams (Rockville, Md.)
8. James Brykczysnki (Ewing, N.J.)

Veteran 40-49 Women’s Saber
1. Dawn Wilson (Louisville, Ky.)
2. Natalia Oblonsky (New York, N.Y.)
3. Nona Lim (Oakland, Calif.)
3. Mary Wilkerson (Denver, Colo.)
5. Eileen Foley (Arvada, Colo.)
6. Michelle Orton-Becker (Chandler, Ariz.)
7. Frauke Berman (New York, N.Y.)
8. Sara Nash (Oreland, Pa.)

Veteran 50-59 Women’s Saber
1. Donna Pepe (Oxford, Conn.)
2. Lydia Mazorol (Simi Valley, Calif.)
3. Rachelle Arama (Phoenix, Ariz.)
3. Miyaka Derose (JPN)
5. Chaz Smith (Placerville, Calif.)
5. Robin Pernice (Carlisle, Mass.)
7. Nam Heui Kim (Brookline, Mass.)
8. Beth Vance (Clarkston, Mich.)

Veteran 60-69 Women’s Saber
1. Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.)
2. Jeannine Bender (Arlington, Va.)
3. Jude Offerle (Winnetka, Ill.)
3. Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.)
5. Debra Allen (Ashland, Ore.)
6. Karen Lum (San Francisco, Calif.)
7. Anna Mannino (Lebanon, N.J.)
8. Linda Dunn (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Veteran +70 Women’s Saber
1. Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)
2. Diane Hiatt (Sparks, Nev.)
3. Louisa Felty (Louisville, Ky.)
3. Anita Anderson (Citrus Heights, Calif.)
5. Sally Higgins (Tinton Falls, N.J.)

Veteran Team Men’s Epee
1. FAN
2. Victorious Secret
4. Smoking Hot Blades
5. Los Angeles International Fencing Center
6. no fear fencing club
7. IFC Cognitive Functionaries
8. Team Conundrum

Veteran Team Women’s Foil
1. Hammertime
2. Misc Fencers
3. Brooklyn College Alumni
4. three ells and an aargh
5. Rockville Rabble Rousers
6. Hell on Heels
7. Ladies Union
8. Les Dames de Fleuret

Division III Women’s Epee
1. Kalista Vera (Chico, Calif.)
2. Hanna Nguyen (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Janet Jandura (Metuchen, N.J.)
3. Virginia Long (USAF Academy, Colo.)
5. Marissa Nelson (Pingree, Idaho)
6. Valeriia Kudriavtceva (RUS)
7. Emilee Eastman (Lincoln, R.I.)
8. Waverly Hock  (USAFA, Colo.)

Division III Men’s Saber
1. Kevin Chen (Sunnyvale, Calif.)
2. Joshua Meehan (Vancouver, Calif.)
3. Julian La Mers-Noble (Camino, Calif.)
3. Dylan Campbell (Reno, Nev.)
5. Nathan Brown (Draper, Utah)
6. William Cunningham (Lexington, Mass.)
7. Jesse Liu (Marietta, Ga.)
8. Keegan Oster (Sacramento, Calif.)

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