Bratislava Junior World Cup Champions Greta Candreva, Gigi Vierheller, Barbara Vanbenthuysen and Ariana Mangano with Coach Andrey Geva. Photo Credit: Andrey Geva.
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The U.S. Women’s Epee Team won its second medal of the season at the Bratislava Junior World Cup on Sunday, taking gold with four past Junior World medalists on the roster.
The Americans returned to the Junior World Cup circuit for the second time this season, following their silver medal in Burgos, Spain in December with gold in Slovakia.
Team USA included three members of the squad that won bronze at the 2017 Junior World Championships – Columbia sophomore Gigi Vierheller (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 16-year-old Ariana Mangano (Colts Neck, N.J.) and 15-year-old Greta Candreva (Katonah, N.Y.) – as well as Penn State sophomore Barbara Vanbenthuysen (The Woodlands, Texas) who was on the team with Vierheller that won bronze in 2016.
The closest bout for the U.S. squad would come in the table of 16 where Estonia cut a seven-touch U.S. lead to two at 26-24 by the end of the sixth bout. Vierheller posted a key win in the seventh, defeating Carmen-Lii Targamaa, 8-5, and Vanbenthuysen defeated Andra Talen, 6-5, in the setup bout to give the Americans a 40-34 lead going into Candreva’s anchor leg. Candreva held off Karoline Loit to close the match with a 45-41 victory.
In the quarter-finals, Team USA dominated Great Britain, winning or tying seven of the nine bouts for a 45-34 victory.
The Americans took on No. 2 France – the 2017 Junior World Champions – in the semifinals. Team USA controlled the match from the start, winning seven of nine bouts with Candreva closing the match at 45-29. Vierheller, Candreva and Vanbenthuysen each posted positive indicators with Vierheller finishing at +7 while Vanbenthuysen and Candreva finished +5 and +4, respectively.
The final would be a rematch between Team USA and top-ranked Italy – a squad that has remained undefeated this season, including a win over the Americans in the finals of the Burgos Junior World Cup.
In addition to being the top team in the world, the Italians hold the top three individual fencers in the junior rankings as well as four of the top seven. Team USA went to work quickly, claiming victories in the first four bouts to establish a 20-9 lead. Italy regained two victories to cut Team USA’s lead to 28-22 after the sixth, but the Americans finished strong with Vierheller besting Junior World No. 3 Beatrice Cagnin, 7-4, in the seventh and Vanbenthuysen taking a 2-0 win against No. 1 Federica Isola in the eighth. Candreva anchored the team against 2014 Cadet World Champion Eleonora Di Marchi with an 8-7 win to secure Team USA’s victory at 45-33.
Team USA remains No. 3 in the world with just two tournaments remaining before the seeding is set for the Junior World Championships in April where the Americans will aim to win their first epee title since future Olympians Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, MInn.) led the United States to victory in 2008.
In the individual competition, Candreva, Vanbenthuysen and Columbia sophomore Anne Cebula (Brooklyn, N.Y.) each earned top-32 results as they continue to vie for positions on this year’s four-person Junior World Team.
Candreva earned a 5-1 finish in pools and defeated Justine Boudreau (CAN), 15-11, and Anne Bultynck (BEL), 15-8, before a 15-13 loss to Marina Kasaeva (RUS). Kasaeva went on to win silver and Candreva’s finish allowed her to move up to No. 2 in the USA Fencing National Team Point Standings, passing No. 3 Mangano who was eliminated in the 256, and behind Vierheller who lost in the 64, but remains No. 1.
Vanbenthuysen continues her bid to qualify for a second Junior World Team in her final year of eligibility with a move from No. 7 to No. 5 in the team point standings. After a 4-2 finish in pools, Vanbenthuysen controlled her first two direct elimination bouts, besting Lucia Torrente (ESP), 15-4, and Sandra Skoblov (EST), 15-8, before falling to Dominika Pawlowska (POL), 15-8, in the 32.
Cebula remains just ahead of Vanbenthuysen with No. 4 position in the standings with fewer than 100 points separating the two going into the final international event of the selection period – the Dijon Junior World Cup on Feb. 17. Cebula went 2-4 in pools and would need three wins to make the 32, defeating Karolina Mazanek (POL), 15-8; Andrea Vittoria Rizzi (ITA), 15-14; and Laura Sheffield (GBR), 15-9. Cebula missed the 16, however, when she lost her next bout to Yana Botvinik (ISR), 15-13.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Bratislava Women’s Team Epee Junior World Cup
8. Great Britain
Bratislava Women’s Individual Epee Junior World Cup
1. Alessandra Bozza (ITA)
2. Marina Kesaeva (RUS)
3. Camille Nabeth (FRA)
3. Bianca Benea (ROU)
5. Karoliine Loit (EST)
6. Eleonora De Marchi (ITA)
7. Yana Botvinik (ISR)
8. Dominika Pawlowska (POL)
19. Greta Candreva (Katonah, N.Y.)
25. Barbara Vanbenthuysen (The Woodlands, Texas)
32. Anne Cebula (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
42. Gigi Vierheller (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
71. Karolina Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)
77. Catherine Beddingfield (Pacific Palisades, Calif.)
88. Miriam Grady (Broomfield, Colo.)
89. Emily Vermeule (Cambridge, Mass.)
101. Mina Yamanaka (Floral Park, N.Y.)
112. Amanda Pirkowski (Longwood, Fla.)
114. Claire Beddingfield (Pacific Palisades, Calif.)
141. Ariana Mangano (Colts Neck, N.J.)
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