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Triple Medal Haul for Team USA at the Seoul Saber Grand Prix

03/30/2015, 9:15pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(L-R): Silver medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, gold medalist Olga Kharlan (UKR) and bronze medalists Mariel Zagunis and Sofya Velikaya. Courtesy of Federation Internationale d'Escime.

(L-R): Silver medalist Nicolas Rousset (FRA), gold medalist Nicolas Limbach (GER) and bronze medalists Daryl Homer and Kamil Ibragimov (RUS). Photo Courtesy of Federation Internationale d'Escime.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Team USA was the only delegation to win three medals at the Seoul Saber Grand Prix on Sunday in Korea where Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) won silver and bronze in the women’s event and Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) took bronze in the men’s competition.

Muhammad fenced a close first half of her table of 64 bout where she trailed Seonhee Kim (KOR), 8-7, at the break. Muhammad scored six straight touches in the second and gave up just one as she went on to take the bout, 15-9.

In the table of 32, Muhammad jumped out to a 8-2 lead against Laura Reguigne (FRA) and held her opponent to just one touch in the second for a 15-3 victory.

Zagunis’s first opponent, Haiyun Yin (CHN) kept the bout tied at four midway through the first period. Zagunis answered with four straight for a 4-8 lead at the break. Zagunis scored four of the next six touches in the second period and closed the bout at 15-11.

The two-time Olympic Champion dominated her table of 32 bout against Jisu Yoon (KOR), allowing just three touches in each half for a 15-6 win.

In the table of 16, Muhammad took on six-time Senior World medalist Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS) for the first time in nearly a year. Muhammad came into the bout as the winner of their previous matchup in Chicago in 2014 and came back from a 3-1 deficit to take an 8-7 lead after the first period. Muhammad held onto her lead in the second and finished the bout with a 15-13 victory.

Zagunis trailed Chen Shen (CHN), 3-1, in the first period, but she outscored Shen, 7-2, to close out the period at 8-5. Shen came back in the second to tie the bout at 12 before Zagunis scored three of the next four to win the bout, 15-13.

Muhammad’s quarter-final opponent, Azza Besbes (TUN), took an 8-5 lead, but Muhammad answered with a six-touch run to begin the second period en route to a 15-11 victory. 

Down by one against Rossella Gregorio (ITA) at 8-7 after the first period of her quarter-final, Zagunis controlled the second period and was up, 14-11, when the Italian fought back to tie the bout at 14. Zagunis took the final touch to secure a 15-14 win.

Muhammad and Zagunis would fence in the semifinals as their first matchup on the circuit since 2013. While Zagunis went on a four-touch run to open the bout, Muhammad held an 8-7 lead at the break. In the second period, the two fencers exchanged touches with neither taking more than a one-touch lead. With the score tied at 13, Muhammad received a yellow card for starting her action before the referee called “Allez!” Zagunis capitalized on the mistake and picked up a one-light touch for a 14-13 lead. Muhammad scored the next touch and jumped into the air after she ended the bout with a final one-light to capture a 15-14 victory.

Fencing in the gold medal final for the first time since 2013, Muhammad got off to a slow start against two-time reigning Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR) who held an 8-2 lead at the break. Muhammad matched Kharlan’s scores in the second period with seven of her own, but couldn’t catch the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and lost the bout, 15-9.

Following her silver medal win, Muhammad moved up to No. 11 in the world rankings while Zagunis stays at No. 2 after claiming her fourth individual international medal of the season.

Zagunis’s 2012 Olympic teammate, Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) held onto her No. 4 world ranking after a 33rd place result. Wozniak’s table of 64 opponent, Jihyeon Kim (KOR) led their bout, 8-7, at the break, but went on a 7-2 run in the second period for a 15-9 victory.  

As the final selection tournament for the 2015 Pan American Championships which will be held in Santiago, Chile next month, both the men’s and women’s saber athletes entered the tournament with the pressure of qualification.

Zagunis, Wozniak and Muhammad earned the top three positions while their 2014 Senior World Championship teammate Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) locked up the fourth spot with her 11th place finish.

Up 8-6 against 2014 Senior World team silver medalist Manon Brunet (FRA), Stone came out of the table of 64 with a 15-10 victory.

In the table of 32, Stone would fence Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) – the 2013 World University Games team member who defeated Stone earlier this month in the semifinals of the Division I Nationals. Stone took an 8-2 lead after the first period, but Thompson fought for a comeback. She couldn’t make up enough ground, however, and Stone finished with a 15-11 victory.

Stone kept her table of 16 bout against 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sofya Velikaya (RUS) within two touches, but Velikaya ended the bout at 15-12.

Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.), a 2009 Senior World Team member, edged Jiarui Qian (CHN), 15-14, in the table of 64, but lost her next bout against Velikaya, 15-6, and finished 26th.

In her final tournament before the Junior World Championships begin next week, Junior World No. 1 Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) drew Besbes in the first round and held an 8-7 lead at the break, but lost the bout, 15-12, and ended the day in 40th place.

In the men’s competition, Homer had a close table of 64 bout, but held on to defeat Byung Yul Kwang (KOR), 15-13.

Homer had no troubles in the 32, however, when he fenced Ilya Mokretcov (KAZ) shortly after Mokretcov defeated Marty Williams (Danbury, Conn.), 15-10, in the table of 64. Homer held Mokretcov to just four touches in each period for a 15-8 win.

In the table of 16, Homer built an 8-7 lead against 2014 Senior World Champion Nikolay Kovalev (RUS) in the first half and ran away with the second period for a 15-11 victory over the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.

While Homer has had close quarter-final losses in the past, this time he was prepared for 2013 Senior World Champion Veniamin Reshetnikov (RUS) and trounced his opponent, 15-7.

Homer fenced a close semifinal against his third Senior World Champion of the day – Nicolas Limbach who won his world title in 2009. Although he was within two touches of Limbach at 12-10, the German closed out the bout at 15-11.

Ranked No. 1 in the United States and No. 10 in the world, Homer secured a position on his sixth Pan American Championship Team.

Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.), Homer’s 2012 Olympic teammate, qualified for a fourth straight Pan Am Team after a 33rd place finish. Although Spear was the top seed out of pools, he fell to Junmo Sung (KOR), 15-10, in the table of 64.

Newcomer Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.) came into the second day of competition as the 64th seed after a difficult opening day in the pool rounds. Souders drew six-time Senior World Team Champion Alexey Yakimenko (RUS) in the first round and lost the bout, 15-4, but his second top-64 result of the international season allowed Souders to qualify for his first Pan Am Team.

Homer, Spear and Souders will be joined at the Pan Ams by Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) who will be fencing at his third Pan Ams and is ranked No. 3 in the United States, but did not compete in Korea as he is preparing for the Junior World Championships in Uzbekistan next week.

Click here to view complete men’s results.

Click here to view complete women’s results.

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

Seoul Men’s Saber Grand Prix
1. Nicolas Limbach (GER)
2. Nicolas Rousset (FRA)
3. Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
3. Kamil Ibragimov (RUS)
5. Alexey Yakimenko (RUS)
6. Junghwan Kim (KOR)
7. Max Hartung (GER)
8. Veniamin Reshetnikov (RUS)

33. Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
41. Marty Williams Jr. (Danbury, Conn.)
64. Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)
74. Thomas Kolasa (Princeton, N.J.)
86. Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.)
90. Gabriel Armijo (San Diego, Calif.)
100. Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
103. Andrew Fischl (Huntington, N.Y.)
130. Michael Mills (Short Hills, N.J.)

Seoul Women’s Saber Grand Prix
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)

3. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
5. Rossella Gregorio (ITA)
6. Anna Marton (HUN)
7. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
8. Azza Besbes (TUN)

11. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
22. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
26. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
33. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
40. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
66. Loweye Diedro (New York, N.Y.)
67. Daria Schneider (New York, N.Y.)
115. Rachel Aho (Wellesley, Mass.)
120. Amber White (Maplewood, N.J.)

Tag(s): News  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone  Sage Palmedo