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Team USA Wins Women’s Saber Bronze, U.S. Men Place Fifth at Senior Worlds

07/17/2015, 2:45pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Senior World bronze medalists Eliza Stone, Mariel Zagunis, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Dagmara Wozniak. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

(Moscow, Russia) – For the fifth straight year, the U.S. Women’s Saber Team reached the podium at the Senior World Championships on Friday.

On the heels of a season in which the squad has medaled at every tournament since winning the 2014 Senior Worlds, the most decorated team in USA Fencing history continued its proud tradition of success in Moscow.

With just one day in between the individual and team competitions, the American women fenced a table of 16 match on Thursday where they defeated Hong Kong, 45-24, to advance to the quarter-finals on Friday.

London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) got the event off to a blazing start when both fencers shut out their opponents, giving the Americans a 10-0 lead after just two bouts. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) came in for the third bout and Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) was subbed in during the third rotation as Team USA defeated China, 45-39.

In a rematch of the 2014 Senior World semifinal, Team USA took on Ukraine and won or tied four of the first eight bouts.

Wozniak came in as anchor against Olga Kharlan – the 2013 and 2014 Senior World Champion who was set on a chance at another gold after losing in the early rounds in the individual event.

Starting at a four-touch deficit, Wozniak scored four against Kharlan, but couldn’t make up the touches and Ukraine took the bout, 45-39, before going on to win the silver medal with Russia taking home the gold.

In the bronze medal final, Team USA fenced Poland – a team that upset France, the 2014 Senior World silver medalists, by a score of 45-44 in the quarter-finals before losing to Russia in the semis.

The Americans won six of the first eight bouts against Poland to give Wozniak a 40-32 lead going into the anchor bout against 2007 Senior World individual bronze medalist Bogna Jozwiak. Wozniak gave up just one touch and Team USA concluded the Senior Worlds with a 45-33 win.

“We fought really hard. It just wasn’t in the cards for us to get the top spot again, but I’m really proud of my team and the way that everybody fenced and I think that a medal is a medal and we’re happy to at least end on a win today,” Zagunis said.

On the men’s side, Team USA was anchored by London Olympian Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) who won a silver in the individual event on Tuesday and also included 2012 Olympian Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.), 2014 Junior World and Senior Pan American Champion Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) and 2015 Pan Am Team member Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)

The Americans needed two direct elimination bout wins on Thursday and defeated Turkey, 45-36, and Iran, 45-38, to qualify for the quarter-finals.

In the quarter-finals, Team USA fenced Germany and, although Spear, Homer and Dershwitz each produced bout wins, Germany led the match, 40-34 after the first eight bouts. Homer scored six on Matyas Szabo (GER), but Germany still clinched the win, 45-40.

Team USA regrouped from the loss and went straight into the 5th – 8th place table and a match against Hungary – a team led by 2012 Olympic Champion Aron Szilagyi. With just a one-touch lead going into the anchor bout, Homer ousted Szilagyi with a 5-2 win to give Team USA the match at 45-41.

Fencing for against Romania for fifth place, the U.S. Men’s Saber Team had a chance at earning its best result at a Senior Worlds since its fifth place finish in 2005.

Spear set the tone for the match in the second bout where he scored nine touches against Tiberiu Dolniceanu – a three-time Senior World medalist who took bronze in the individual event earlier this week – to give Team USA a 10-7 lead.

By the anchor bout, Team USA had grown its lead to 40-36 and Homer returned to the strip against Dolniceanu for the second time this week after defeating the Romanian in the individual semifinals. Homer held Dolniceanu to two touches and ended the match with a 45-38 win over Romania – the 2013 Senior World silver medalists.

The early rounds of the men’s and women’s epee events also were held on Friday.

The U.S. Women’s Epee Team came to Russia looking to build on its sixth place result at the 2014 Senior Worlds, but that plan was halted by Hungary – the same team that knocked Team USA out of the quarter-finals in 2014.

Led by three-time Senior World individual medalist Emese Szasz, Hungary came in as the 10th seed and would battle the seventh-seeded Americans in the table of 16 this year.

With Team USA down by two touches going into the final bout, 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) took on Szasz and tied the bout at 28 with 38 seconds on the clock. After hitting a double, Hurley and Szasz each backed away to send the bout into overtime where Szasz hit first and Hungary took the win, 30-29.

With Olympic qualification points on the line, Team USA battled through three more matches in the 9th – 16th place table.

First up would be Switzerland which held a 24-22 lead after the sixth bout before two-time Junior World medalist Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.) outscored Amandine Ischer, 8-6, to tie the match at 30. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), who won bronze with her younger sister Courtney at the 2012 Games, outscored Pauline Brunner, 3-1, in the eighth. In a race to the finish, Courtney scored 12 touches in three minutes against Tiffany Geroudet as Team USA won the match, 45-41.

Team USA’s next match would be against Estonia after the 2014 Senior World silver medalists were upset in the 16 by 19th seeded Japan.

Stacked with two Senior World medalists and the 2014 Junior World Champion, Estonia proved to be too much for Team USA and controlled the match for a 45-28 win.

Anna van Brummen (Houston, Texas) played a pivotal role in the match for 11th place, scoring 15 of Team USA’s 26 touches in the first eight bouts against Germany. Courtney Hurley racked up 14 more in the anchor bout against Alexandra Ndolo as Team USA won the match, 40-37.

In the men’s epee competition, Team USA drew zonal rival Canada in the table of 32.

Team USA entered the event on the heels of a gold medal win at the Pan American Championships, but the Canadians weren’t to be counted out as they built a 27-24 lead over the American team of Ben Bratton (New York City), Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Yeisser Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Jimmy Moody Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Much like in the semis and finals at the Pan Ams, Moody entered the final bout at a deficit and had three minutes to make up ground as the Canadians held a 27-24 lead. Canadian anchor Maxime Brinck-Croteau was up to the challenge, however, and held Moody off with a 35-33 lead with nine seconds remaining on the clock. Moody ran at the Canadian, however, and scored two touches in the final three seconds to tie the bout and force an overtime period.

While overtime is Moody’s bread and butter, Brinck-Croteau stole a single and won the bout for Canada, 36-35.

Team USA ended the day in 17th place. The tables for the top eight will be contested on Saturday.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight results for the team saber events are as follows:

Men’s Team Saber Senior World Championships
1. Italy
2. Russia
3. Germany
4. France
5. USA
6. Romania
7. Hungary
8. Korea

Women’s Team Saber Senior World Championships
1. Russia
2. Ukraine
3. USA
4. Poland
5. Italy
6. France
7. Korea
8. China

Tag(s): News  Eli Dershwitz  Daryl Homer  Courtney Hurley  Kelley Hurley  Jeff Spear  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis