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Chamley-Watson and Palmedo Win July Challenge Titles in San Jose, Div IA National Champions Crowned

06/28/2015, 9:45pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Miles Chamley-Watson celebrates his gold medal win in San Jose. Photo Credit: Brien Vincent

(San Jose, Calif.) – Two members of Team USA claimed the first two gold medals of the July Challenge which kicked off at the San Jose Convention Center on Saturday.

Fencing in his final event before the Senior World Championships, 2012 Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City) won the men’s foil title and four-time Junior World medalist Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) brought home the women’s saber gold.

In town for a pre-Worlds training camp, Chamley-Watson took the July Challenge as an opportunity to get in another victory at an Olympic qualifying event before traveling to Moscow next week.

“It’s the best practice I can get. It counts for Olympic qualification, so why not fence?” Chamley-Watson said when asked about competing so close to Senior Worlds.

Seeded third out of the pools, Chamley-Watson earned a bye into the table of 64 where he defeated 2015 Junior World Team member Raymond Chen (Dallas, Texas), 15-5.

After a 15-11 win against John Vaiani (Belmar, N.J.), Chamley-Watson defeated David Hadler (San Francisco, Calif.), 15-5, to qualify for the quarter-finals where he won his bout over Harrison Bergman (Lebanon, N.J.), 15-6.

In the semifinals, Chamley-Watson fenced his London teammate, Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) The two fenced a close opening minute with Meinhardt holding a 10-7 lead before Chamley-Watson scored six straight touches. Meinhardt tied the bout at 13 and Chamley-Watson scored again to come within a touch of the win. Meinhardt put up a single light to tie the bout and Chamley-Watson answered with a one-light of his own to win the bout, 15-14, with 16 seconds remaining in the first period.

“Gerek’s not only one of my best friends, but also one of the best fencers in the world, so, whenever we fence, it’s always 15-14. We’ve probably fenced the last six times in a row all at 15-14. Even when I got to 14 I knew he was going to get a touch and you just kind of have to prepare for the best and I knew what to do,” Chamley-Watson said. “He knows what to do. We kind of just battled it out and I was happy to get the win, but it was nice to fence him because he’s at a high level so that was a great win for me. It wasn’t in the top eight at least. It was in the top four, so at least we both got what we needed today.”

In the finals, Chamley-Watson fenced Anton Zakharikov (RUS). Up 7-2 early in the bout, Chamley-Watson never dropped his lead and went on to defeat the Russian, 15-11.

“I personally like to see that I’m in top form and I wanted to prove that here too. The thing is that I could have won Shanghai and come here and just be like ‘Oh, I’m not gonna fence, I’m just gonna hang around’ or I could have fenced like crap and lost in the 16, but I came here to win,” said Chamley-Watson who won his first Grand Prix title in Shanghai last month. “Winning at any level is good whether it’s winning at a Grand Prix or winning at a NAC or winning at a local. Winning is a mindset, so, if you keep repeating it, then it’s only going to help you.”

After a season of juggling junior and senior domestic and international events, Palmedo got just a week off after the Moscow Grand Prix in May before she received news recently that she would have the opportunity to travel with Team USA as an alternate for the team event at the Senior World Championships.

The news meant that Palmedo’s training would go back into high gear with the July Challenge serving as her final competition before traveling with Team USA to Poland next week for a pre-Worlds training camp.

“I took a week off after Moscow. I wasn’t feeling too hot and then my coach told me I was going to be an alternate for the team event at the Senior World Championships and I was like ‘Ok, I better start training again,’” Palmedo laughed. “And I was going to go to San Jose anyway because it counts for rolling points and it’s just a good tournament to do in the summer. Even though I did take a little break, though, I’ve been training hard because I just like training hard and it’s a good time to do that because there’s a camp going on at our club. But now I have the Senior World Championships in Moscow as extra motivation.”

Seeded second out of the pools, Palmedo won two direct elimination bouts to advance to the quarter-finals against her former Junior World teammate, Margaret McDonald (Atlanta, Ga.)

“I fenced ok in the beginning. It kind of got better and better. The first bout where I actually felt like I was fencing really well was against Margaret McDonald,” Palmedo said. “Before that, I felt like I was fencing ok, but was making some mistakes. I was mostly relaxed today and I think that helped a lot. Since I was training pretty hard and working on my form and things like that I just tried to relax and channel the stuff I’ve been working on lately.”

Palmedo opened her bout against McDonald with six straight touches and held an 8-1 lead at the half before closing the bout at 15-6.

In the semis, newcomer Zara Moss (Cranberry Township, Pa.) held a brief lead at 4-3 before Palmedo went on a five-touch run to close the first period at 8-4. Palmedo finished the bout with a 15-11 win to advance to the gold medal final against 2013 World University Games Team member Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)

The bout would be a rematch of their gold medal final at the Division I National Championships in March where Palmedo won her first Div I national title.

“I looked at the entry list and I knew that Kamali would be one of the top people at this event, so, for me, it wasn’t a big surprise when I saw we would be fencing in the final again and I knew it would be a really tough bout,” Palmedo said.

Thompson fenced spectacularly in the first half, outscoring Palmedo to take an 8-3 lead. In the second period, Palmedo outscored Thompson, 4-1 during the opening series to cut Thompson’s lead to 10-9. Thompson scored twice for a 12-9 lead, but the latter was reversed and awarded to Palmedo who capitalized on the momentum shift by scoring five straight touches to win the bout, 15-12. 

“That last bout was the toughest. Before the break, I kind of figured out some changes I had to make, but I really didn’t make them until the second half. I think a lot of times it’s really a subconscious thing. Getting in the flow, getting in the rhythm and making the right decisions,” Palmedo said. “Sometimes you know the right decisions to make, but you can’t really get the momentum. You can’t really get the feel. She was setting up lots of really great actions in the first half and I was kind of falling for everything she set up. In the second half, I took more control and started setting her up and it was more of an even match.”

With the 2014-15 season now almost entirely in the books, Palmedo also announced that she will be attending Princeton as a freshman in the fall, but maintains that she is still focused on trying to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.

“I got a lot of pressure to take another year off and train, but I didn’t feel like I ended this year very well mentally and I just need a change of pace. Obviously there were some heartbreaks at some Senior World Cups and at Junior World Championships, but I still worked hard and it was a good experience, but now I’m ready for college,” Palmedo said. “I will still try for the Olympics. That’s one of my goals still and I’m talking to people at Princeton and Zoltan and the other coaches are very supportive. They listen to what the athletes goals are and they’re rooting for me. I’m still going to go to the Senior World Cups and see how I do. A lot of people have asked if I’m going to go to college or try and make the Olympics, but I’m going to go to college AND try to make the Olympic Team.”

In the cadet events at the July Challenge, Megan Eno (Salem, Ore.) and Erwin Cai (Marietta, Ga.) won the women’s epee and men’s saber titles, respectively.

Eno, who won Div II National Championships as a 13-year-old in 2014, finished the pools in 27th place with a 3-2 record, won five direct elimination bouts to advance to the gold medal finals against Hanna Lee (Las Vegas, Nev.) After a tied first-period at 5-5, Eno took a three-touch lead to finish the second at 13-10. Lee scored twice to come within a touch of Eno at 13-12. After another single by Eno, Lee took too more to tie the bout at 14 before Eno finished for a 15-14 win and her first cadet title at the national level.

A Y14 National Champion in 2014, Cai also earned his first gold on the cadet circuit. After giving up just eight touches to his six opponents in pools, Cai earned the No. 1 seed in the direct elimination rounds and held all but one of his opponents to single digit scores to advance to the gold medal final where he defeated Gerardo Daniel Flores (Oakland, Calif.), 15-11.  

In the National Championship events, gold medals were awarded in both Division IA men’s epee and women’s foil.

After winning gold in the Division I men’s epee event at the January NAC, Adam Maczik (Colorado Springs, Colo.) entered the Division IA men’s epee competition as a tuneup for the Div I men’s epee competition on Sunday and came away with his first National Championship title. Seeded first out of pools, Maczik held each of his first four direct elimination opponents to single digit scores. After a narrow semifinal win against Eduard Zilinskiiy (San Jose, Calif.), 15-13, Maczik went on to win gold against Kyle Yamasaki (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), 15-11.

Fencing in the first of her four women’s foil events this week, 15-year-old Xiao-Qing Tsai (Salt Lake City, Utah) won her first National Championship title with a gold in the Div IA women’s foil event. Tsai began the day as the fourth seed in the event, but a 3-3 result in the pools dropped Tsai to the 28th seed in the DEs. Tsai won four straight bouts to advance to the gold medal final where she defeated May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.J.), 11-6.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight results are as follows:

Division I Men’s Foil July Challenge
1. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City)
2. Anton Zakharikov (RUS)
3. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
5. David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
6. Thomas Dudey (Bellaire, Texas)
7. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
8. Harrison Bergman (Lebanon, N.J.)

Division I Women’s Saber July Challenge
1. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
2. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
3. Malia Hee (Vancouver, Wash.)
3. Zara Moss (Cranberry Township, Pa.)
5. Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.)
6. Eileen Grench (PAN)
7. Daniella Timofeyev (Antelope, Calif.)
8. Margaret McDonald (Atlanta, Ga.)

Cadet Women’s Epee July Challenge
1. Megan Eno (Salem, Ore.)
2. Hanna Lee (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Tatijana Stewart (Ogden, Utah)
3. Ariana Mangano (Colts Neck, N.J.)
5. Greta Candreva (Katonah, N.Y.)
6. Natalie Kim (Glenview, Ill.)
7. LeeAnn Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
8. Hannah Nguyen (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Cadet Men’s Saber July Challenge
1. Erwin Cai (Marietta, Ga.)
2. Gerardo Daniel Flores (Oakland, Calif.)
3. Robert Vidovszky (Folsom, Calif.)
3. Jason Oh (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.)
5. Andrew Sun (Alpharetta, Ga.)
6. Daniel Solomon (Setauket, N.Y.)
7. Roscoe Swartz (Ridgewood, N.J.)
8. Nicolas Del Vecchio (Silver Spring, Md.)

Div IA Men’s Epee National Championships
1. Adam Maczik (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
2. Kyle Yamasaki (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
3. Eduard Zilinskiiy (San Jose, Calif.)
3. Cole Mallette (Keizer, Ore.)
5. Jay Slater (Bainbridge Island, Wash.)
6. John McDonald (Issaquah, Wash.)
7. Davidson Barr (Jersey City, N.J.)
8. Tiger Gao (Manhasset, N.Y.)

Div IA Women’s Foil National Championships
1. Xiao-Qing Tsai (Salt Lake City, Utah)
2. May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.J.)
3. Julia Nogucchi (San Jose, Calif.)
3. Isabella Chung (Greenwich, Conn.)
5. Rhiannon Harvey (Norfolk, Va.)
6. Erin Dietsche (Long Valley, N.J.)
7. Simone Unwalla (Great Falls, Va.)
8. Demi Antipas (Stony Brook, N.Y.)


Tag(s): News  Miles Chamley-Watson  Sage Palmedo