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Zagunis Wins Sixth Individual Pan Am Zonal Title, Leads 1-2-3 Team USA Finish

04/20/2015, 4:30am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Gold medalist Mariel Zagunis (center) with silver medalist Dagmara Wozniak and bronze medalist Eliza Stone. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

Zagunis celebrates her sixth Pan Am Zonal title. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) put her name in the record books again on Sunday when she won her sixth Pan American Championship title in Santiago, Chile – the most of any athlete in any weapon in the zone.

Zagunis, whose first five titles came from 2009-2013, shut out her pool opponents, 6-0, to take the second seed in the direct elimination tables where she blew through her first three opponents, defeating Maria Alicia Perroni (ARG), 15-1; Marissa Ponich (CAN), 15-5; and Ursula Gonzalez Garate (MEX), 15-6, to advance to the semifinal rounds.

All three of Zagunis’s teammates from the squad that won gold at the 2014 Senior Worlds came to Santiago looking for a first-time medal and a possible upset of their teammate and the zone’s dominant force.

London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Senior World medalists Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) each fenced close table of 16 bouts, but came away with wins to qualify as the only country with four fencers in the quarter-finals.

Wozniak, who dropped a bout in the pools, defeated 2014 Junior World silver medalist Julieta Toledo (MEX), 15-12, in the table of 16 to set up a quarter-final against top-seeded Muhammad who edged Gabriella Page (CAN), 15-13, in the 16.

Wozniak controlled the quarter-final from the start and went on to take the victory, 15-5.

Stone’s fenced a close bout against Eileen Grench (PAN) in the 16, but seemed unstoppable as she blew through Tania Arrayales (MEX), 15-3, in the quarters.

In the evening semifinal, Wozniak fenced Paola Pliego (MEX) – the 2014 Overall Junior World Cup Champion who trains with Zagunis at the Oregon Fencing Alliance.

Wozniak held an 8-3 lead against Pliego at the break and held off a late comeback to finish the bout, 15-10.

With her semi against Stone tied at 3-3, Zagunis went on a 5-1 run to hold an 8-4 lead at the break. Stone scored first in the second period, but Zagunis answered with five straight touches for a 13-5 lead. Stone took another touch and Zagunis picked up one of her own to take the score to 14-6. Stone wasn’t done yet, however, as she scored four straight before Zagunis could close out at 15-10.

In the gold medal final, Wozniak was within two touches of Zagunis at 9-7 when the five-time Senior World Champion scored six of the next seven touches to claim her sixth Pan Am Zonal title with a 15-8 win.

“It’s always tough fencing your teammates because you practice with them and know them better than any other athletes, whether it’s Pan Ams or Grand Prix or the World Championships. So it just comes down to making it a good bout and I think they were definitely good bouts today,” Zagunis said.


The victory came as redemption for Zagunis who lost her only Pan Am bout since 2008 in the finals of this event last year.


“I was hoping to keep the streak alive, but unfortunately last year I lost a really good bout with Belen Perez from Argentina. So I was glad to come into this competition with a little less pressure on me I would say, but I was happy with the way I fenced today and that I was able to bring home gold,” Zagunis said.


This marks the third straight year that Team USA has won three medals in women’s saber at this event


“The other girls fenced great all day today too, so it’s always good to know the squad’s right on track and right where it should be. Gold, silver, bronze. Can’t be better than that,” Zagunis said.


In the men’s epee event, 2014 Pan American bronze medalist Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and 2012 Senior World Team Champion Ben Bratton (New York City) each earned top-eight finishes.

After a 5-1 pool result, Pryor earned a bye into the table of 32 where he was tied with Jose Felix Dominguez (ARG) at six touches each going into the final minute, but picked up a single with 18 seconds on the clock. With the pressure on Dominguez, Pryor picked up another single and then doubled for a 9-7 victory.

Pryor ran through Guilherme Melaragno (BRA), 15-4, in the table of 16 to qualify for the quarters against Maxime Brinck-Croteau (CAN).

The Canadian entered the bout off a 15-7 win over 2013 Cadet World Champion Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas) who placed in the top 16 at his first Senior Pan Ams after a 15-4 win against Victor Pinero (PUR) in the 64 and a 15-6 defeat of Jose Rafael Lockhuart Guerrero (DOM) in the 32.

With Brinck-Croteau up 6-2 late in the second, Pryor fought to come within two touches of his opponent at 10-8, but couldn’t close the gap and lost the bout, 12-10.

After a bye into the table of 32, Bratton scored in the first minute of the third period to tie his bout against Fidel Ferret Ferrer (CUB) at four. Bratton picked up a touch to take a 6-5 lead in the final minute and fenced off Ferrer during a battle to the end of the bout with Bratton scoring seven touches in just over 40 seconds as he took the win, 13-8.

With the score tied at four midway through the second period against 2014 Pan Am bronze medalist Kelvin Canas, Bratton scored once to take the lead and was up, 9-6, by the final minute of the third period when Canas picked up three singles to tie the bout. In the overtime period, Bratton scored quickly for a 10-9 victory.

One bout away from the quarter-finals, Bratton faced 2012 Olympic Champion Ruben Limardo and took the Venezuelan down to a final minute after a passivity call in the third period. Limardo held priority, however, and Bratton fell two touches shy of an upset with a 10-9 loss.

Limardo on to win gold with Bratton being his second win over the day against a U.S. fencer. In the previous round, Limardo also defeated Yeisser Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 14-11, who qualified for the table of 16 after a 15-9 win against Gerber Gonzalez (GUA) in the 32.

Click here to view complete men’s individual epee results.

Click here to view complete women’s individual saber results.

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

Pan American Championships Individual Men’s Epee
1. Ruben Limardo Gascon (VEN)
2. Maxime Brinck-Croteau (CAN)
3. Reynier Henriquez Ortiz (CUB)
3. Francisco Limardo (VEN)
5. Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
6. Jean Lelion (CAN)
7. Ben Bratton New York, N.Y.)
8. Silvio Fernandez (VEN)

12. Yeisser Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
15. Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas)

Pan American Championships Women’s Individual Saber
1. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
2. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
3. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)

3. Paola Pliego (MEX)
5. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
6. Tania Arrayales (MEX)
7. Ursula Gonzalez Garate (MEX)
8. Alejandra Benitez (VEN)

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