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Team USA Qualifies Seven for Second Day of Saber Competition at Senior Worlds

07/13/2015, 7:00pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Eli Dershwitz advanced to the table of 64 after the prelim rounds on Monday. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Moscow, Russia) – Team USA will have four women and three men in the saber tables of 64 on Tuesday when the first medals are awarded at the Senior World Championships in Moscow.

Three of Team USA’s women’s saber fencers earned exemptions into the table of 64 due to their top-16 World Rankings with two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), 2012 Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and their 2014 World Championship teammate Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) ranked third, fifth and 16th in the world, respectively.

After claiming two pool wins, Stone dropped her third bout to Norika Tamura (JPN), 5-3, and admitted she was caught by Tamura after rushing her attacks, but won her next two to end the pools with a 5-1 record and earn the 29th seed in the table of 32.

“I feel pretty strong. I had one moment of weakness in the bout I lost, but I kept it together and got it back, so I’m happy about that,” said Stone. “As far as my body and fencing, I feel strong. I’ve had a bit of an up and down season, so I’m a little apprehensive, but, overall I feel good.”

Women’s Saber Preview

Zagunis drew 2010 Junior World silver medalist Anna Varhelyi (HUN) in the table of 64. Zagunis’s quadrant also includes a potential quarter-final matchup against Wozniak who placed in the top eight in 2014 and will fence Tamara Pochekutova (KAZ) in the first round. Stone will fence Loretta Gulotta (ITA) in the table of 64 and could fence fourth-ranked Yana Egorian (RUS) who won bronze at the 2014 Senior Worlds in the table of 32. Muhammad, the only U.S. fencer to defeat Zagunis this season, will fence Angelika Wator (POL) in the table of 64 and a win would put her on track for a potential table of 16 bout against Sofya Velikaya (RUS) – the World No. 2 who won five medals on the World Cup circuit this year and took the Senior World title in 2011.

In the men’s event, 2012 Olympian Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) came into the Senior Worlds ranked No. 10 after winning his first Grand Prix medal in Seoul this season following back-to-back bout wins against Russian World Champions.

Two of Homer’s teammates advanced to the table of 64 while a third was left behind after an All-American duel to make the second day.

Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), the reigning Junior World and Senior Pan Am Champion, struggled in pools where he lost his first two bouts. He regrouped and won four straight to advance to the preliminary direct elimination tables where he earned a bye into the prelim table of 64.

“I started off a little slow, but, I just kept telling myself that I’d been working really hard. I’ve been practicing really hard and knew I just wanted to stay positive and see where that gets me,” Dershwitz said. “As the day went on, I fenced well. I was moving really well. At the end of the day, I was moving really well, using the strip and fencing well, so that’s what you want.”

In the bout to qualify for the second day, Dershwitz would fence first-time Senior World Team member Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.) who also went 4-2 in a pool that included 2013 Senior World Champion Veniamin Reshetnikov (RUS). Up 8-1 at the break, Dershwitz took three of the first four touches of the second period before Souders made adjustments and came within three touches of Dershwitz who would go on to finish the bout, 15-9.

“We both trained really hard all year to get here and to have to fence each other that early was really rough,” Dershwitz said. “Tomorrow, I just gotta fence my heart out. I’ve got a tough draw, but it doesn’t matter who it is. I just have to fence my heart out.”

Spear dropped his first pool bout of the day with a 5-2 loss to Sergio Escudero (ESP) before winning five straight to close out the day with a +12 indicator and a 5-1 record that would put him on the bubble for advancing straight to the second day.

“I started off a little shaky. I probably was a little nervous and wasn’t creating as many actions as I wanted to, but by the second half of my pool I felt better,” Spear said.

Spear checked his status – 15th with more pools to come in – after his final bout and returned to prepare for his potential DE round.

“I just went in prepared to fence. The reason I left is because if I stayed there I knew I was going to be worried about whether I made it or not and the way to prepare for that is to just assume you’re still going to fence, so, if I don’t, that’s great and if I do, I’m ready,” Spear said.

Spear drew Julian Ayala (MEX) in the prelim table of 64 and cruised to a 15-5 win.

“I definitely had a game plan. We fenced in a team event at Zonals, so I definitely had a few things that I was prepared for. I also knew I had to come in revved up, but had two or three things that I knew ‘in this situation, this is going to be my dominant action’ and built it up from there,” he said.

Men’s Saber Preview

Homer will fence Ahmed Amr (EGY) in his first bout in the direct elimination rounds on Tuesday with a win putting him into the table of 32 where he would face the winner of a bout between Iulian Teodosiu (ROU) and Sandro Bazadze (GEO). Looking ahead, Homer could find himself in a table of 16 bout against Russia’s rising star – Kamil Ibragimov – a 2013 Junior World Champion who won three medals on this year’s Senior World Cup circuit. Spear will open with a bout against Kenta Tokunan (JPN) with two-time individual Senior World medalist Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU) lying in wait as a potential table of 32 opponent. Dershwitz’s pool round losses cost him in the direct elimination draw where he will face 2010 Senior World Champion Woo Young Won (KOR) in the table of 64. Won is a familiar opponent for Dershwitz who took the Korean to the wire at both of their last meetings before facing 15-14 losses. 

Tag(s): News  Eli Dershwitz  Daryl Homer  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Jeff Spear  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone