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Dagmara Wozniak Upsets Olympic Champion in New York

01/29/2017, 5:00pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Dagmara Wozniak (right) defeated Yana Egorian (RUS) in the table of 32. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FencingPhotos.com

(New York City, N.Y.) – Rio Olympic bronze medalist Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) defeated the reigning Olympic Champion and World No. 1, Yana Egorian (RUS), in front of a home crowd at the New York Women’s Sabre World Cup in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Wozniak, who placed eighth overall, earned her best finish on the circuit since 2015 and came two touches away from reaching the podium.

Seeded 32nd in the table of 64 after a 5-1 finish in pools on Friday, Wozniak drew Italian Chiara Mormile in the opening round. The 2015 Junior World Champion scored four straight touches to open the bout, but Wozniak replied with a 6-4 run to close the gap to 8-6 at the break. Wozniak kept her opponent to three touches in the second period for a 15-11 win.

Fencing Egorian in the table of 32, Wozniak came out strong with a 3-1 lead and fought off a comeback by Egorian late in the first to stay ahead at 8-6. Egorian pulled ahead at 12-10 in the second period, but Wozniak rattled off five straight touches to take the bout, 15-12.

“I think I put a lot of pressure on her and just didn’t let up. Even though she started to come back at the end, I just started thinking ‘One action at a time. One action at a time’ and just focused on the next touch. Regardless of whether I was losing or winning, I was just thinking of the next step,” Wozniak said.  “I wasn’t going to go out without a fight.”

In the table of 16, Wozniak got off to a quick start and led Sandra Marcos (ESP), 8-3 at the break. Marcos came back in the second to tie the bout at 10. Wozniak pulled away, however, and closed with a 15-12 win

From the start of the day, Wozniak’s bouts were followed by a crowd that grew to take over half the seats at the venue and it was soon standing room only as the fans cheered her on.

“It was great and through all that noise I only heard my coach or Olek Ochoki. He’s like my left hand. We’re a team and I always trust doing what he says and the same thing with [Coach] Yury [Gelman.] Front of the strip, it’s Olek talking, back of the strip it’s Yury,” Wozniak said. “I just zoned out and didn’t necessarily pay attention to the crowd. But it was still really nice to have everyone here. There were a lot of girls from my club here and all the high fives afterwards were great.”

The tournament marks the second international event since Rio for Wozniak who took time off after the Games.

“It was definitely a battle. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on – life stuff, personal stuff, health stuff. It was just a matter of blocking that out and just putting it in a box and dealing with it later,” Wozniak said. “But right now it’s fencing and this is what I love to do and this is my job so I tried to just focus on work and get the job done.”

Wozniak will return to the strip on Sunday to fence in the team event where she is expected to anchor the American squad.

“I’m excited. I didn’t go to Orleans and this is my first team competition since Rio, so I’m excited to bring it to the table,” Wozniak said. “I’m sad Mariel’s not here. She’s my wingman, I’m her wingman. So it’ll definitely be a change of roles tomorrow, but I’m ready for that and maybe I’ll even surprise some people.”

Wozniak’s eighth place finish will allow the two-time Olympian to return to a top-four position in the National Team Standings with just four tournaments remaining before the 2017 Senior World Team is selected in April.

One of Wozniak’s teammates on three past squads, Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), earned a top-32 result in Brooklyn. A three-time Senior World team medalist, Stone is aiming to qualify for a fourth World Team.

Stone, who advanced from the pool rounds on Friday with a 6-0 record, fenced a close table of 64 bout against Clara Laurent (FRA), leading by a touch at 10-9 in the second period. Stone scored five of the next seven touches, however, to end the bout at 15-11.

In the table of 32, Stone went to close out against Misaki Emura (JPN) at 14-12, but Emura scored three straight touches for a 15-14 win.

With the Americans out of medal contention, athletes from France, Italy and Korea battled for positions on the podium.

A 2015 Senior World silver medalist, Cecilia Berder (FRA) won her second individual career World Cup title, defeating 2012 Olympic Champion Jiyeon Kim (KOR), 15-11, in the gold medal final.

Italians Irene Vecchi (ITA) and Martina Criscio (ITA) won the event’s bronze medals.

Vecchi led Berder, 14-11, in the semis before the Frenchwoman scored four straight for a 15-14 win.

Criscio won her first career World Cup medal after a 15-6 loss to Kim.

In the early rounds, Berder’s gold medal run was nearly halted by 20-year-old Leanne Singleton-Comfort (Marysville, Calif.) The Air Force Academy sophomore led Berder, 7-3, in the first period of their table of 64 matchup before dropping dropping the bout, 15-12.

Fifteen-year-old Ryan Jenkins (Cupertino, Calif.) fenced Egorian in the table of 64. Competing on the second day for the first time at a Senior World Cup, Jenkins trailed Egorian, 8-1, after the first period. Although she scored nine in the second, Jenkins lost the bout, 15-10.

Rio Olympic team medalists Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) were both eliminated in the table of 64.

Muhammad made a late comeback against Criscio, but lost their bout, 15-12.

Aksamit fenced 2015 Junior World team bronze medalist Petra Zahonyi (HUN) and lost the bout, 15-6.

Muhammad’s younger sister, Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) fenced a close bout against 2015 Senior World medalist Anna Marton (HUN), but missed advancing by two touches with a 15-13 loss.

Although Thompson led Margaux Gimalac (FRA), 8-3, in the first period of their table of 64 bout, Gimalac forced a tie at 12 and scored the bout-winning touch at 15-14.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who did not advance to the table of 64:

New York Individual Women’s Saber World Cup
1. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
2. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
3. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
3. Martina Criscio (ITA)
5. Manon Brunet (FRA)
6. Anna Marton (HUN)
7. Loreta Gulotta (ITA)
8. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)

21. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
33. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
42. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
48. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
60. Leanne Singleton-Comfort (Marysville, Calif.)
61. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
64. Ryan Jenkins (Cupertino, Calif.)

65. Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.)
72. Gillian Litynski (Niskayuna, N.Y.)
73. Kristen Wong (Scarsdale, N.Y.)
76. Zara Moss (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
77. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
80. Elizabeth Tartakovsky (Livingston, N.J.)
85. Tori Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)
87. Maia Chamberlain (Menlo Park, Calif.)
91. Lena Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga)
102. Maria Theodore (Quincy, Mass.)
103. Alexis Anglade (Alpharetta, Ga.)
106. Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.)
110. Galen Cadley (New York, N.Y.)
111. Alexis Browne (New City, N.Y.)
112. Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
115. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
117. Keli Izenson (Atlanta, Ga.)
121. Alexandra Gorman (Wellesley, Mass.)
123. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
125. Martha Merriam (Tenafly, N.J.)
127. Veronica Czyzewski (Caldwell, N.J.)
128. Casey Chan (Cresskill, N.J.)
129. Sydney Hirsch (Woodbridge, Conn.)

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