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Itkin, Team USA Win Silver in France

02/01/2017, 6:45pm CST
By Kristen Henneman

Team USA silver medalists Nick Itkin, Sidarth Kumbla and Geoffrey Tourette with coaches Aleksei Murugin, Misha Itkin and Greg Massialas.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.) brought home two silver medals from the Aix-En-Provence Junior World Cup, coming within a touch of the gold in the individual competition Saturday before helping Team USA to its fourth medal in the last five World Cups.

Itkin’s second career Junior World Cup medal moved him into second in the Junior National Team Point Standings and guarantees him a spot on the Junior World Championship Team. In fact, after this weekend’s event, all four members who will compete in Bulgaria have been decided. Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.), the reigning Cadet World Champion, remained atop the standings while 2015 Cadet World Champion Sam Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.) secured a position as the No. 3 fencer in the standings. Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.) will be the fourth member of Team USA. All four athletes are past Cadet World Team members with Moelis and Tourette having competed on the Junior World Team in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

After completing pools with a 5-1 record, Itkin cruised to a 15-4 victory over Gustavo Alarcon (CHI) in the table of 128. In the next two rounds, the 2016 Cadet World Team member overcame two Hungarians, defeating Gabor Bellovicz, 15-13, and Tamas Mendrey, 15-6. With a 15-6 win over Enguerand Roger (FRA), Itkin advanced to the quarter-finals, where he edged out Alexandre Ediri (FRA), 15-13.

Itkin dominated his semifinal bout, giving up just one touch to Takuma Ito (JPN) for a 15-1 win. The final would be much closer with the gold medal decided by just one touch. Ultimately, Itkin fell short to the No. 3 fencer in the junior world rankings, Iskander Akhmetov (RUS), who earned his second title in the last three Junior World Cups.

Finishing 17th in France, Tourette earned a spot on his second Junior World Team. The two-time Cadet World medalist entered the direct elimination rounds as the top-seeded fencer, going 6-0 in pools. He then defeated Max Tiemann (GER), 15-7, and Andrzej Rzadkowski (POL), 15-12, to reach the 32, but was upset by Ludwik De Bazelaire (POL), 15-12.

Team USA’s top-ranked fencer in the Junior World Rankings at No. 9 after his bronze at the last World Cup in London, Kumbla also earned a top-32 result. He started the direct elimination rounds with a 15-10 victory over Maxim Valeur (DEN) in the table of 128 and outscored teammate Michael Li (Palo Alto, Calif.) in the 64, 15-13. However, in the 32 Kumbla was out-touched by Ediri, falling 15-14.

Three of the top cadet fencers in the United States also competed in France with Julian Cheng (Lexington, Mass.) and Andrew Zheng (Jericho, N.Y.) finishing in the top 32 while Kenji Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.) claimed a top-64 result. 

Bravo and Cheng were both eliminated by bronze medalist Grigoriy Semenyuk (RUS) in the 64 and 32, respectively. At his first international junior tournament, Zheng won his first two bouts by 15-6 and 15-10 scores, but lost to Mohamed Hamza (EGY), 15-9, in the 32 to take 23rd.

With his 21st-place finish, Cheng secured the second spot on the Cadet World Championship team, joining Andrew Machovec (East Rockaway, N.Y.), who qualified for the team last weekend in Pisa. Zheng is currently ranked third in the Cadet National Team Point Standings, leading Joon Paik (Norwood, N.J.) by 371 points. Only the Junior Olympic Championships, Feb. 16-19 in Kansas City, Mo., remain before the top three athletes in the team standings are formally named to the Cadet World Team.

Lucas Orts also ended the day in the top 64, going undefeated in pools before besting Jose Charreu (POR), 15-14. In the 64, Orts lost to Maxim Lovyagin (RUS), 15-10.

On Sunday, Itkin, Tourette and Kumbla claimed the silver medal in the team competition and the U.S. maintained its No. 1 ranking.

As the top seed, the Americans earned a bye into the table of 16 where they didn’t lose a single bout and defeated Australia, 45-20.

In the quarters against Poland, Itkin posted a +12 indicator, twice overcoming a deficit to give Team USA the lead. With Poland leading the match, 8-7, Itkin won his third bout, 8-4, and later took his fifth bout, 6-0, to give the U.S. a 25-20 lead. With the momentum swinging their way, the Americans won their final four bouts for a 45-29 victory.

The semifinals saw Team USA come from behind to hold off Russia, 45-43. Trailing the entire match, the U.S. faced a 35-30 deficit with two bouts to go and two medalists from the individual competition up for Russia. Itkin earned revenge against his opponent in the gold medal final, overcoming Akhmetov, 9-5, to cut the deficit to one at 40-39. Anchoring for the United States, Tourette completed the comeback, defeating Semenyuk, 6-3.

After falling behind from the beginning against Japan in the final, the Americans hoped for a similar comeback, but dropped the match 45-30.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Aix-En-Provence Men’s Individual Foil Junior World Cup
1. Iskander Akhmetov (RUS)
2. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Takuma Ito (JPN)
3. Grigoriy Semenyuk (RUS)
5. Wallerand Roger (FRA)
6. Petar Files (CRO)
7. Alexandre Ediri (FRA)
8. Davide Filippi (ITA)

17. Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.)
21. Julian Cheng (Lexington, Mass.)
23. Andrew Zheng (Jericho, N.Y.)
30. Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.)
34. Michael Li (Palo Alto, Calif.)
35. Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.)
55. Kenji Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
93. Joseph Marino (Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
102. James Bourtis (Webster, N.Y.)
104. Samuel Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.)
109. Robert Wong (Chappaqua, N.Y.)

Aix-En-Provence Men’s Team Foil Junior World Cup
1. Japan
2. USA
3. Russia
4. Italy
5. Germany
6. Poland
7. France
8. Hungary

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