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Five U.S. Fencers Earn Top-32 Grand Prix Results in Boston

12/14/2015, 9:30am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Andrew Mackiewicz (left) fenced 2014 Senior World Champion Nikolay Kovalev (RUS) in the table of 32. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE / FencingPhotos.com

(Boston, Mass.) – Twelve members of Team USA came away from the Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Boston at Harvard University on Sunday with points towards Olympic qualification with five earning top-32 results.

In the men’s events, three Boston natives qualified for the table of 32 with crowds following them from one strip to the next.

Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), the reigning Pan Am and Junior World Champion, went 5-1 in the pool rounds on Saturday and won his table of 64 bout against Gabriele Foschini (ITA), 15-9.

In the table of 32, Dershwitz took on Junghwan Kim (KOR) – the No. 2-ranked men’s saber fencer in the world. Kim controlled the first period, leading the bout, 8-3, at the break. In the second, Dershwitz outscored the 2012 Olympic Team Champion, 6-2, to cut Kim’s lead to 10-9. Kim scored three straight, but Dershwitz fought back to tie the bout at 13. It was Kim, however, who scored the final two touches for a 15-13 win.

Andrew Mackiewicz (Sherborn, Mass.), Dershwitz’s Zeta Fencing teammate, finished the pools with a 4-2 record on Saturday and defeated Maxence Lambert (FRA), 15-7, in the DEs to qualify for the table of 64 where he took an 8-4 lead against Hin Chung Lam (HKG) at the break before claiming the bout, 15-12, in the second period.

Fencing in the table of 32 for the first time at a Grand Prix, Mackiewicz drew 2014 Senior World Champion Nikolay Kovalev (RUS) who gave up just a handful of touches to take an 8-4 lead at the break. Mackiewicz regrouped in the second period to take a 10-9 lead against the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist. Kovalev scored three straight during the subsequent exchanges and went on to take the win, 15-13.

Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.), a former co-captain at Boston College who is now pursuing his masters’ degree at Tufts, also had a breakthrough weekend.

Souders went 4-2 in the pools and won his prelim DE bout, 15-9, against Jean-Philippe Patrice (FRA) on Saturday. In the table of 64, Souders defeated Jean-Philippe Patrice (FRA), a two-time individual medalist on the circuit this year, by a 15-12 score.

After qualifying for his first Grand Prix table of 32, Souders led Giovanni Repetti (ITA), 8-7, at the break, but the Italian scored three straight touches to win the bout, 15-12, with a single-light finish.

Fifth seeded Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y) earned a bye into the table of 64 where he led 2012 Olympian Bolade Apithy (FRA), 4-2, early in the bout, but found himself behind when Apithy went on a 6-2 run to take an 8-6 lead at the break. Apithy controlled the second period to take the bout, 15-12.

Homer’s London Olympic teammate, Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) drew a short pool on Saturday and ended the round with a 3-2 result. After a pair of prelim DE wins, Spear advanced to the 64 on Sunday where he lost his opening bout to two-time Overall World Cup Champion Bongil Gu (KOR), 15-12.

Sixteen-year-old Erwin Cai (Marietta, Ga.) also advanced to the second day of competition. Cai went 3-3 in the pools and won two prelim DEs to claim the 61st seed in the table of 64 at his first senior international event. The No. 1 U17 fencer in the United States took on three-time Senior World medalist Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU) in the table of 64 and lost the bout, 15-4, but did earn points towards his bid for the 2016 Junior and Cadet Worlds.

In the race for Olympic qualification, both Homer and Dershwitz remain in the top 14 of the Adjusted Olympic Rankings with just three tournaments remaining in the qualifying period.

At 37-years-old, 2004 Olympic Champion Aldo Montano (ITA) bolstered his bid for a fourth straight appearance at the Games when he defeated 2012 Olympic Champion Aron Szilayi (HUN), 15-12, in the gold medal final. The win was particularly sweet for Montano as it came after two silver medal results here in previous years when Montano placed second when this event was held in 2014 in New York as well as at the 2014 Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty World Cup in Chicago.

Montano, who also defeated Dolniceanu by a 15-9 score in the semis, moved from being on the bubble of the AOR to an eighth-place position.

Although reigning World Champion Alexey Yakimenko (RUS) fell to Montano, 15-10, in the quarter-finals, he remains No. 1 in the AOR and earned enough points in Boston to unofficially secure his position in Rio. Dolniceanu’s bronze medal result also was enough to make him a lock in the AOR for a trip to Rio.  

Benedikt Wagner (GER) took the other bronze medal after a 15-5 quarter-final win against Occhiuzzi in the quarters and a 15-11 loss to Szilagyi in the semis. Wagner climbed into the top-14 on the AOR as well, passing his teammate, three-time Senior World individual medalist Nicolas Limbach (GER) in the process.

In the women’s event, Team USA had seven athletes qualify for the table of 64.

London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) each earned Team USA’s best results of the weekend with top 32 finishes.

Exempt from pools, Wozniak got Sunday off to a strong start when she went on a 7-1 run in the second half of her table of 64 bout to defeat Marion Stoltz (FRA), 15-8.

Wozniak began her table of 32 bout against Jisu Yoon (KOR) as well, taking an early lead at 3-0. Yoon went on an 8-2 run, however, to finish the first period at 8-5. Wozniak came within a touch of Yoon, at 12-11, but wasn’t able to score again and dropped the bout, 15-11.

The younger sister of 2014 Senior World Team Champion Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 2011 World University Games Team member Faizah Muhammad finished the pool rounds at 4-2 and then earned a decisive win against 2012 Junior World Team Champion Beline Boulay (FRA), 15-8, to qualify for the second day.

In the table of 64, the younger Muhammad earned a 15-13 comeback win against 2008 Olympic Team Champion Galyna Pundyk (UKR). Anna Marton (HUN), a 2015 Senior World bronze medalist, led the next bout, 8-4, at the break and held Muhammad to two touches in the second period for a 15-6 win.

Seeded third in the tournament, two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) drew 2007 Senior World medalist Bogna Jozwiak (POL) in the table of 64. In a commanding performance, Jozwiak took an 8-2 lead in the first period that she grew to 13-4 in the second. Zagunis remained in the bout, however, scoring four more touches late in the second before falling to Jozwiak, 15-8.

Ibtihaj Muhammad was exempt from pools and cruised through the start of her bout against Paline Kaspiarovich (BLR) to build a 13-8 lead. The Belarussian fought back in the second period and not only challenged Muhammad, but went on to take a 15-14 upset.

Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) finished the pools at 4-2 and defeated Margaux Gimalac (FRA), 15-11, in the prelim DEs to qualify for her table of 64 bout against Maria Belen Perez Maurice (ARG), the 2014 Pan American Champion who won bronze at this event last year. Although the Argentinian led the second period, 10-5, Thompson brought the bout to a tie at 10 before falling to Perez Maurice, 15-12.

Four-time Junior World medalist Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) dropped three pool bouts, but came back in the prelim DEs to post wins against Sooyeon Choi (KOR) and Valeria Bolshakova (RUS) by 15-14 and 15-9 scores, respectively.

With a 59th seed in the table of 64, Palmedo drew 2014 Senior World medalist Yana Egorian (RUS) in her round of 64, but lost the bout, 15-8.

Palmedo’s top 64 result allowed her to move into the top four women’s saber fencers on the National Team Point Standings behind Zagunis, Wozniak and Ibtihaj Muhammad. Just 44 points now separate Palmedo from 2014 Senior World Team Champion Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) in the battle for the fourth position on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team as the top three in the standings after the Division I National Championships in April will qualify for Rio and the fourth athlete will travel to the Games as a replacement athlete for the team event.

In the women’s finals, 2015 Senior World medalist Chen Shen (CHN) came out on top, dispatching Sofya Velikaya (RUS), the reigning World Champion and World No. 1, by a 15-12 score in the semis and Viktoriya Kovaleva (RUS), 15-10, for gold. Sabina Mikina (AZE) also won bronze – the first podium finish on the World Cup circuit for Mikina.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Men’s Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Boston
1. Aldo Montano (ITA)
2. Aron Szilagyi (HUN)
3. Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU)
3. Benedikt Wagner (GER)
5. Alexey Yakimenko (RUS)
6. Bongil Gu (KOR)
7. Nikolay Kovalev (RUS)
8. Diego Occhiuzzi (ITA)

21. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
27. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)
30. Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)
33. Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
61. Erwin Cai (Marietta, Ga.)
62. Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
77. Ben Natanzon (Manalapan, N.J.)
81. Thomas Kolasa (Princeton, N.J.)
82. Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.)
89. Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
98. Andrew Doddo (South Orange, N.J.)
100. Jonathan Fitzgerald (East Brunswick, N.J.)
101. Karol Metryka (Linden, N.J.)
105. Marty Williams Jr. (Danbury, Conn.)
107. Will Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
112. Dawson Sieradzky (Wayne, N.J.)
122. Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.)
135. Gabriel Armijo (San Diego, Calif.)
140. Adam Green (Chevy Chase, Md.)
150. Rienzi Gokea (New York City, N.Y.)
152. Samuel Kwong (Los Altos Hills, Calif.)
154. Jacob Asch (Alexandria, Va.)

Women’s Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Boston
1. Chen Shen (CHN)
2. Viktoriya Kovaleva (RUS)
3. Sabina Mikina (AZE)
3. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
5. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
6. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)
7. Loreta Gulotta (ITA)
8. Sara Balzer (FRA)

20. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
28. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
33. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
35. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
52. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
61. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
70. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
76. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
76. Daniella Timofeyev (Antelope, Calif.)
83. Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.)
84. Gillian Litynski (Niskayuna, N.Y.)
92. Zara Moss (Cranberry Township, Pa.)
107. Sarah Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
117. Maria Theodore (Quincy, Mass.)
119. Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.)
122. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
124. Galen Cadley (New York City, N.Y.)
125. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
126. Regina O’Brien (Wellesley, Mass.)
135. Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
144. Amber White (Maplewood, N.J.)
148. Lauren Kim (Plano, Texas)
148. Oliwia Szumilo (Staten Island, N.Y.)
151. Aziza Hassan (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
155. Lindsay Sapienza (Bardonia, N.Y.)
156. Nam Heui Kim (Brookline, Mass.)

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