skip navigation

Alexander Massialas and Kelley Hurley Kick Off Pan Ams with Gold

06/22/2016, 4:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Panama City, Panama) – Team USA opened the final competition before the Olympic Games with a pair of gold medals at the Pan American Championships in Panama City.

Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) won the men’s individual foil and women’s individual epee golds, respectively on Tuesday. The Olympians each led a three-medal podium finish for the Americans who earned a total of six out of the eight medals awarded.

Massialas entered the event as the top-ranked men’s foil fencer in the world, but his luck took a turn when he arrived on Sunday morning without luggage. The travel hiccup was the second time in a row for Massialas who also had delayed bags before the Shanghai Grand Prix where he won gold last month.

“Both times they were left in San Francisco and both were on direct flights. Shanghai was less nerve-wracking because I got my foils the day before competition whereas this time I didn’t get them until the morning before I fenced at like 10. But you do what you have to,” said Massialas whose teammates were ready to lend him foils if needed. “This is why you bring most of your gear in a carry-on anyway. I make sure to carry my whites, my lame, my mask, my shoes … basically everything but the foils … for situations like this. I was just happy that I got to fence with my foils and it turned out well for me both times.”

Massialas, the 2015 Senior World silver medalist, finished the pool rounds with a 6-0 record to take the No. 2 seed in the direct elimination table behind 2013 Senior World Champion Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)

Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), the 2014-15 Overall World Cup Champion was seeded sixth and three-time Senior World medalist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) was 11th after dropping a pool bout.

After a bye into the table of 32, Massialas defeated Alejandro Hernandez Vasquez (COL), 15-2, and Cesar Aguirre (VEN), 15-11, to make the eight.

Chamley-Watson also advanced to the quarter-finals with two DE bout wins and Imboden defeated Meinhardt in a 15-14 battle that left the three-time Olympian with a top-16 result.

In the quarters, Massialas cruised through a 15-6 win over 2015 Pan Am Games bronze medalist Ghislain Perrier (BRA) to set up a semifinal against Imboden who defeated Felipe Guillermo Saucedo (ARG), 15-4. Chamley-Watson fenced a close bout against Max Van Haaster (CAN) for a 15-11 victory.

Massialas and Imboden would face off in a rematch of the 2015 finals where Imboden took his third career Pan Am title. This time, Massialas went to work quickly, defeating his teammate, 15-5.

“The 50-50 touches where I was hitting on the back or barely touching him were all going off. I felt pretty good and my tip was landing for most of my touches. Even when it didn’t land, if it seemed like it was about to get a touch, I put on an off-target light,” Massialas said. “Race is a really good fencer in his own right and you can’t ever let up during those situations. I feel like I fenced pretty well and things were rolling well for me today.”

In the other semi, Chamley-Watson lost to his former Penn State teammate, Daniel Gomez (MEX) – a 2012 Olympian who qualified for his first Pan Am final.

Gomez held the score tied at two early in the bout, but Massialas pulled away with a 5-2 lead at the break.

“The first period was all about feeling him out. He was fencing really well against Miles and he got a few touches against me in the first period. I wasn’t able to land a few of my attacks that I thought I could have or should have landed, but that’s what fencing’s all about. If things aren’t going your way, you take your time and figure out what your opponent is doing and what you should change and how you should counter that,” Massialas said.

In the second period, Massialas outscored Gomez, 10-4, to win the bout, 15-6.

The win marked Massialas’s first individual gold at this tournament after four past silver medals as well as a bronze in 2010.

“I’ve come in second and third a lot here so to finally be able to say ‘Pan Am Zonal Champion’ is a really good feeling. Obviously, my goal is to keep going on to Rio and get that gold in Rio, but it’s a nice stepping stone along the way,” Massialas said.

With just over a month before the Games, Massialas will hold the No. 1 world ranking going into Rio and has hopes of adding 2016 Olympic Champion to an already decorated resume.

“Being the No. 1 going into the Olympics, there’s always going to be people aiming for you. There’s always going to be a target on your back, but my job is to go there and beat whoever’s in front of me. It doesn’t matter if they’re No. 32 or No. 16 or what they’re ranked, I just need to go out there and beat whoever’s in front of me and, hopefully, at the end of the day I’ll be on top of the podium,” Massialas said.

With the world rankings finalized before the Games, Massialas holds the top position with Meinhardt in fourth and Chamley-Watson in 18th.

Imboden, who will fence in the team event only in Rio, dropped from fifth to seventh.

A bronze medalist in the team event in London, Kelley Hurley came into this tournament with the goal of boosting a world ranking that recently fell out of the top 20. Hurley also held the challenge of needing to improve upon her 2015 silver medal in order to pick up critical points.

As the fourth seed out of pools, Hurley earned a bye into the table of 32 where she defeated Karina Dyner Villa (CRC), 15-2. After a 15-9 win against Lizzie Asis (VEN) in the 16, Hurley came away with a 15-11 defeat of Amanda Simeao (BRA) to make the semis in one of her most challenging bouts of the day.

“We call her the fortress. She just has this arm that’s really hard to get around, so that was a tough one,” Hurley said.

The win moved the three-time Olympian into the semifinals against her younger sister and London teammate Courtney Hurley who finished pools as the No. 1 seed and recently earned a top-eight finish at the Rio Grand Prix.

The bout would be a fast-paced one with Kelley taking the win, 15-12.

In the other semifinal, Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.) had secured her fourth straight Pan Am medal and was hoping for a chance at gold, but she fell short with a 15-10 loss to Maria Martinez (VEN).

Martinez stayed with Hurley for most of the first period, holding the U.S. fencer to a 6-5 lead in the final minute of the period, but Hurley pulled away with a pair of singles and took the bout, 15-10, in the second period.

“It’s exactly what I planned for at the start of the season. The beginning of the season was great and the middle was kind of rocky and I was really trying to peak right around the Olympic time and I think this was a really good result going into the Olympics so I’m pretty satisfied with how things are going,” Kelley Hurley said.

Following her gold medal win, Kelley is now ranked 18th in the world, just behind her sister in 16th. And, while the roommates and lifelong training partners have spent most of their lives together on the strip and off, they’ve never competed against each other on the international stage outside of the Pan Ams.

“Besides the Pan Ams and the NACs, we’ve never fenced each other internationally. Not in juniors, not in seniors, never. There’s been times where it’s been close. Like if one of us won one more match we would have and we’ve fenced together for 15 years and it’s never happened,” Kelley Hurley said. “If it came down to it at the Olympics, it would probably be towards the end and it would probably be for a medal. If it’s to get a medal, like the difference between getting one and not getting one, that would be extremely stressful and I don’t even want to think about it. For the most part, we don’t really think about it and it’s not something we really consider.”

What she does have her eye on is another possibility and reaching the podium again in the team event, in addition to her own individual aspirations.

The U.S. Women’s Epee Team entered the London Games as somewhat of an underdog. This time, they’ve won bronzes in two out of the five World Cups this season and are being scrutinized by many of their opponents.

“I’m hoping we can keep the momentum going. We’re working together better as the season goes on and figuring things out and how we each fit into the team and hopefully it all comes together when it counts,” she said.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Pan American Championships Men’s Individual Foil
1. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)

2. Daniel Gomez (MEX)
3. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

5. Maximilien Van Haaster (CAN)
6. Ghislain Perrier (BRA)
7. Felipe Guillermo Saucedo (ARG)
8. Sebastian Tirado (PUR)

12. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)

Pan American Championships Women’s Individual Epee
1. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)

2. Maria Martinez (VEN)
3. Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
3. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)

5. Alejandra Teran (MEX)
6T. Dayana Martinez (VEN)
6T. Amanda Simeao (BRA)
8. Rayssa Costa (BRA)

17. Katarzyna Trzopek (Paciifca, Calif.)

Tag(s): News