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Sixteen-year-old Lauryn DeLuca Qualifies for Rio Paralympic Games

05/28/2016, 12:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Lauryn DeLuca qualified for the Rio Paralympic Games in Sao Paulo on Friday. Photo Credit: Leo Curtis

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The U.S. Wheelchair Fencing Team’s youngest member, 16-year-old Lauryn DeLuca (Parma, Ohio), earned Team USA’s sole qualification allocation for the Rio Paralympic Games on Friday.

Fencing at the Pan American Wheelchair Championships, DeLuca competed in the Category A event for her specialty weapon – epee – on the second day of the Paralympic qualifier in Sao Paulo.

A former able-bodied fencer who competed in the Y14 event at the 2013 USA Fencing National Championships, DeLuca has cerebral palsy and was recruited to compete in a wheelchair just three years ago. Although she has only fenced in wheelchair events since 2013, DeLuca won the first of her three National Championship titles in 2015 and began fencing on the international circuit that year as well.

DeLuca won all six of her pool bouts to earn the only bye into the semifinals. Her teammates, two-time Wheelchair World Team member Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.) and 2015 Wheelchair World Team member Vikki Espinosa (Portland, Ore.), each finished 2-4 in pools. Patricia Dykes (Gulf Breeze, Fla.) withdrew from pools with an injury and finished eighth.

Espinosa and Geddes drew each other in the quarters with Espinosa winning the bout, 4-3.

DeLuca and Espinosa each had close bouts in the semifinals. DeLuca defeated 2012 Paralympian Sylvie Morel (CAN), 15-13, and Espinosa edged Monica Santos (BRA), 4-3, the day after Santos qualified for the Rio Paralympic Games in the foil event.

With two U.S. fencers in the finals, the United States was guaranteed a berth to the Paralympic Games, but it would be DeLuca who would take the spot with a 15-9 victory and her first international title.

“Everything seem to be going well for me all day. I was undefeated the whole event. My point control was good. My body was moving well. My head was in the right spot. I don't think it will hit me that I made the Games till I'm at home. There was a lot of excitement at the end of the final bout – hence me screaming,” said the normally reserved high school sophomore.

DeLuca’s nomination to the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team is subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee.

After winning bronze in the Category B men’s epee saber on Thursday, Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.) had one opportunity remaining to qualify for his fifth Paralympic Team.

Moreno went 3-1 in pools and earned a bye into the quarter-finals where he defeated Marcelo Motta (BRA), 15-10.

Moreno missed qualification, however, when he lost in the semis to Vanderson Chaves (BRA), 15-10.

Two members of Team USA competed in the Category A men’s foil event.

Curt Oswalt (Von Ormy, Texas), a 2013 Wheelchair World Team member, dropped just one pool bout and earned the No. 4 seed with a 3-1 record as well as a bye into the quarters.

Andy Quattrociocchi (Kennesaw, Ga.) finished 2-3 in pools and defeated Derik Burbela (BRA), 15-6.

In the quarters, however, Oswalt lost to Sandro Calaco (BRA), 15-4, and Quattrociocchi was eliminated by Alex Souza (BRA), 15-7.

Although the Paralympic qualification concluded on Friday, team events will be held on Saturday with the United States fencing in the men’s foil and epee events.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Category A Women’s Epee Wheelchair Pan American Championships
1. Lauryn DeLuca (Parma, Ohio)
2. Vikki Espinosa (Portland, Ore.)
3. Sylvie Morel (CAN)
3. Monica Santos (BRA)
5. Karina Maia (BRA)
6. Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.)
7. Rudneia Manica (BRA)
8. Patricia Dykes (Gulf Breeze, Fla.)

Category A Men’s Foil Wheelchair Pan American Championships
1. Fabio Damasceno (BRA)
2. Alex Souza (BRA)
3. Sandro Colaco (BRA)
3. Lenilson Oliveira (BRA)
5. Curt Oswalt (Von Ormy, Texas)
6. Matthieu Hebert (CAN)
7. Andy Quattrociocchi (Kennesaw, Ga.)
8. Jorge Michiard (ARG)

Category B Men’s Foil Wheelchair Pan American Championships
1. Jovane Guissone (BRA)
2. Vanderson Chaves (BRA)
3. Hugo Alderete (ARG)
3. Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.)
5. Edgard Rassan (BRA)
6. Marcelo Motta (BRA)
7. Luis Alarcon (ARG)
8. Marcio Neves (BRA)

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