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Team USA Wins Men’s Foil and Women’s Epee Pan Am Titles

04/22/2015, 1:30am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Team USA's men's foil squad with Coach Greg Massialas and USA Fencing President Don Anthony Jr. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Santiago, Chile) – Team USA’s men’s foil and women’s epee squads began the Olympic qualification season with a pair of gold medal wins on Tuesday at the Pan American Championships.

Ranked No. 4 in the world, the U.S. Men's Foil Team entered the tournament as the favorites for gold after back-to-back World Cup medal finishes, including a gold in Paris in January and bronze in Bonn in February.

Anchored by Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), a silver medalist in the individual event, Team USA also included Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who won individual gold on Saturday; individual quarter-finalist Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City) and first-time senior team member Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)

Seeded first in the tables, Team USA won all nine bouts in its opening match against Colombia for a 45-14 win to qualify for the semifinals where the U.S. team defeated Mexico, 45-17.

Fencing for gold, Chamley-Watson, Imboden and Massialas built a 20-9 lead after the first four bouts against Brazil. In the fifth, however, 2014 Seoul World Cup medalist Ghislain Perrier scored 12 touches in his bout against Imboden to cut Team USA’s lead to three at 24-21.

“You can’t let that phase the rest of the team because, right from the moment we realized they were back in the game, we knew we had to just put the pedal to the metal and grind it out,” Massialas said. “We couldn’t just let it affect us and make us make bad decisions. We just had to go out there and really shut it down.”

Team USA came back in the remaining rounds with four straight bout wins with Bravo joining the lineup as a substitute and Massialas closing out the bout with a 5-4 anchor win against Perrier and a 45-32 U.S. victory.

“We came here and the goal was to win, obviously, and we did that. Not only did we do that, but we went 1-2-3 individual with Miles coming in the top eight as well so it was an almost perfect competition for us and I think we’re all going home pretty proud,” Massialas said.  

The Pan Am Championships are the first tournament of the seven-event Olympic qualification process for weapons that are being contested in the team events in Rio de Janeiro – men’s and women’s epee, men’s foil and women’s saber.

“It’s awesome to start qualification on the right foot. We have one of the strongest teams in the world right now and we’re really not only focused on qualification, but we’re really focused on how we’re going to do at the Olympics themselves. It’s not just about getting there, but what we do once we get there,” Massialas said. 

The U.S. Women’s Epee Team has won the Pan Ams every year since 2011 and the reigning Olympic bronze medalists kept the streak alive in Santiago with Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.) and Isabel Ford (Salem, Ore.) winning gold.

The top seed in the DE tables, Team USA followed a bye into the quarter-finals with a 45-21 win over Colombia and a 45-28 victory against Canada in the semis.

In the gold medal final, Team USA was up, 8-6, against Venezuela after the first four bouts when Courtney Hurley outscored Lizzie Asis, 10-5, for a 18-11 lead.

“At the beginning it’s always pretty close and we usually end up breaking away in the middle. Whenever that happens, you have to be strong enough to take advantage of those situations and capitalize on that one bout where you can put your team ahead,” Courtney Hurley said.

Kelley Hurley followed with a 5-3 win against Maria Martinez in the sixth and Holmes outscored Dayana Martinez, 5-2, in the seventh. After a 7-2 run by Kelley Hurley in the eighth, Team USA led the match, 35-18 with Courtney Hurley anchoring against Maria Martinez. Courtney locked down the win for her team at 40-26 to give the U.S. Women’s Epee Team its fifth straight Pan Am Zonal Championships gold medal.

“I feel like we fenced really well today. We communicated pretty well and there was a hiccup or two, but we came back pretty strong,” Courtney Hurley said. “Everyone’s cutthroat and dying to do well. But all that matters is that we do the best out of all the Americas. I don’t want to jinx anything, but qualification looks good for us. Now it’s just a matter of the individuals who make that team and hopefully we can be consistent so those same people are together all year. That’s the most important part. We did our job here and, as long as we do better than everyone else in the Americas consistently than qualification won’t be an issue.”

Click here to view complete women’s epee team results.

Click here to view complete men’s foil team results.

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

Pan American Championships Women’s Team Epee
1. USA

2. Venezuela
3. Cuba
4. Canada
5. Dominican Republic
6. Argentina
7. Colombia
8. Brazil

Pan American Championships Men’s Team Foil
1. USA

2. Brazil
3. Canada
4. Mexico
5. Chile
6. Venezuela
7. Colombia
8. Peru

Tag(s): News  Courtney Hurley  Kelley Hurley  Race Imboden  Alexander Massialas  Miles Chamley-Watson  Kat Holmes