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Team USA Named for First Olympic Qualifier, April 18-23 in Santiago, Chile

04/10/2015, 6:00pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Lee Kiefer has won every Pan American women's foil title since 2010. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce that 28 athletes will represent Team USA at the Pan American Championships from April 18-23 in Santiago, Chile.

The Pan Ams are the zonal championships for athletes in North and South America and will serve as the first qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Following the conclusion of the winter World Cups, April marks the beginning of the one-year qualification period by country for team events (men’s epee and foil, women’s saber and epee) and by name for events that will only be contested for individuals in Rio (men’s saber and women’s foil).

For team events, the Zonal Championships are the first of six events (also including five World Cups and the 2015 Senior World Championships) that make up the Olympic qualification process.

The top four teams in the world on the FIE Adjusted Official Rankings in each weapon as of April 3, 2016 will qualify for Rio with additional slots reserved for the highest ranked team in each weapon per zone for a total of eight teams per weapon, plus host nation, if applicable. Should a nation qualify a team for Rio, that country will receive both a position in the team event as well as three positions in the individual competition.

For men’s saber and women’s foil fencers, the Pan Ams carry a greater level of importance for the individual events in Chile as a maximum of two athletes per nation per weapon will be able to qualify for Rio through positions in the top-14 fencers in the FIE Individual Adjusted Official Rankings or as one of the top two fencers in the Individual AOR by zone.

Team USA has a long tradition of success at the Pan Ams where the U.S. delegation won four of six individual events and five of six team gold medals in 2014.

Selected based on the USA Fencing National Team Point Standings, Team USA’s fencers on the 2015 squad include all four athletes who won individual gold in 2014.

London Olympic foil fencer Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) won her first Pan Am title in 2010 and has remained undefeated since. Kiefer is tied at five with two-time Olympic Saber Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) for the most consecutive titles at the Pan Ams. Now ranked No. 3 in the world, Kiefer has never lost a direct elimination bout at the Pan Ams.

Ranked No. 4 in the men’s foil world rankings, two-time Olympian Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) won back-to-back Pan Am titles in 2013 and 2014 to bring his total of individual golds at the Pan Ams to three, including his first title as a 17-year-old in 2007.

Women’s epee fencer Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) matched Meinhardt in 2014 with her second straight title and third overall after taking gold as an 18-year-old in 2009. A bronze medalist in the team competition in London, Hurley is now ranked No. 10 in the world.

For men’s saber fencer Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), the 2014 Pan Ams marked his second year fencing in the event and he shocked the field with a gold medal win as a junior. Dershwitz will defend his title this year as the reigning Junior World Champion as well.

In addition, five members of Team USA have won individual gold medals at the Pan Ams in previous years, including the following members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team:

  • Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore. / saber), five-time individual Pan American Champion
  • Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y. / foil), two-time individual Pan American Champion
  • Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y. / saber), 2011 Pan American Champion
  • Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas / epee), 2011 Pan American Champion
  • Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y. / foil), 2009 Pan American Champion

In the team events, the U.S. squads won golds in men’s and women’s saber, continuing the streak of both teams remaining undefeated in the history of the Pan Ams. Team USA’s men’s and women’s foil events also won gold while the men’s epee squad took bronze.

The individual events will be held from April 18-20 and will be followed by team competitions from April 21-23.

The complete competition schedule is as follows:

Saturday, April 18
Men’s Individual Foil
Women’s Individual Epee

Sunday, April 19
Men’s Individual Epee
Women’s Individual Saber

Monday, April 20
Men’s Individual Saber
Women’s Individual Foil

Tuesday, April 21
Men’s Team Foil
Women’s Team Epee

Wednesday, April 22
Men’s Team Epee
Women’s Team Saber

Thursday, April 23
Men’s Team Saber
Women’s Team Foil

Team USA’s complete athlete roster is as follows:

Women’s Epee
Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
Isabel Ford (Salem, Ore.)

Women’s Foil
Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)
Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
– Individual Only
Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) – Team Only

Women’s Saber
Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)

Men’s Epee
Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.)
Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas)

Yeisser Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Individual Only
Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Team Only

Men’s Foil
Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
– Individual Only
Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)
Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
– Team Only

Men’s Saber
Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
– Individual Only
Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
– Individual Only
Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)
Gabe Armijo (San Diego, Calif.)
– Team Only

Team staff is as follows:

Chef de Mission
Saul Mendoza (Escondido, Calif.)

Team Manager
Kate Reisinger (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Team Captain
Francisco Martin (Yonkers, N.Y.)

Sports Medicine
Jeremy Summers (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Joe Giovatto (Clearwater, Fla.)

Men’s Epee Coach
Benoit Bouysset (Houston, Texas)

Women’s Epee Coach
Andrey Geva (Houston, Texas)

Men’s Foil Coach
Greg Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)

Women’s Foil Coach
Buckie Leach (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.)

Men’s Saber Coach
Zoran Tulum (Natick, Mass.)

Women’s Saber Coach
Ed Korfanty (Portland, Ore.)

Tag(s): News  Eli Dershwitz  Daryl Homer  Courtney Hurley  Kelley Hurley  Race Imboden  Alexander Massialas  Gerek Meinhardt  Jimmy Moody  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Nicole Ross  Jeff Spear  Miles Chamley-Watson  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Lee Kiefer  Nzingha Prescod  Kat Holmes  Eliza Stone  Sabrina Massialas