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Team USA Wins Junior and Cadet World Medal Count with Team Foil Gold and Bronze

04/10/2018, 8:45am CDT
By Kristen Henneman

Team USA won gold in women's team foil and bronze in men's team foil.

(Verona, Italy) –The future of foil fencing in the United States is bright.

With two medals on the final day of competition at the Junior and Cadet World Championships in Verona, Italy – team gold for the women and bronze for the men – Team USA secured the most foil medals at the tournament in USA Fencing history with nine, beating 2011’s eight podium finishes.

Overall, Team USA brought home 14 medals, which not only ranks first of all countries at Junior and Cadet Worlds, but ties for the most ever in USA Fencing history. The United States edged out host nation Italy, which tallied 13, and Russia, which finished with nine.

The women’s foil squad became the World Champions for the first time since 2014 and finishes the season at No. 1 in the world to win the overall World Cup title.

“For the past three years, Poland has pretty much dominated this tournament and I wasn’t a part of the team, but the U.S. came in second three times,” said first-time Junior World Team member Delphine DeVore (Westport, Conn.) “Poland was stacked, but they all aged out, so it’s our time. It’s a new era.”

This year’s junior women’s foil team was one of the youngest in recent history with three cadets competing on the junior team. A two-time silver medalist in team at the 2016 and 2017 Junior Worlds, Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.) entered the competition as the only member with experience at a Junior Worlds, but anchored a team that won three individual medals in Verona prior to the team event.

May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.J.) and DeVore had already won silver and bronze in the cadet event while the second-youngest member on this year’s U.S. team, 15-year-old Lauren Scruggs (Ozone Park, N.J.), took bronze in the junior event.

All four played vital roles throughout the day with Tieu stepping up in the table of 16 matchup against Hong Kong with a +7 indicator.

After Team USA lost the first two bouts, 10-6, Tieu won the third, 7-2, to put the United States in front, 13-12. The Americans were victorious in six of the final seven bouts to advance to the quarter-finals, 44-31.

“So I fenced a Hong Kong girl yesterday and I kind of knew how they strategized,” Tieu said. “I knew they wanted to be backwards and then they would come out with fast attacks, so I was really prepared for that.”

Facing Russia in the quarter-finals, Team USA came back from 10 down to earn a 39-35 victory. Both DeVore and Binder had outstanding performances for the United States in the victory, tallying +7 and +10 indicators, respectively.

The United States got off to a slow start, going down, 5-0, but Binder made a comeback in the second round, tying the score at six. Although regained the lead in the next two bouts, DeVore subbed in in the fifth and turned the match around. Despite dropping the first two points and facing a 22-12 deficit, she won five of the next six touches to bring the team within three.

The United States then won or tied the next three bouts and entered the decisive ninth bout tied at 32. As the anchor for Team USA, Binder scored the first four points of the round against Alexandra Sunduchkova and took her bout, 7-3, to put Team USA into the medal rounds. Binder was +10 on the match.

“I think having the confidence to anchor is something that I’ve had to work on over the past three years, and seeing [past Junior World Team members] Sabrina Massialas and Iman Blow anchor, they’ve been really big role models for me,” Binder said. “This was kind of the first big bout that I’ve had to anchor myself, but [my team was] super supportive and the girl I had to fence, I felt like I had her number a little bit. I kept my cool and it worked out.”

The semifinals saw Team USA best Italy, 45-36. The Americans won or tied the first six bouts to take a double-digit lead at 25-11, and they couldn’t be caught. Scruggs won two of those first six bouts, including a 5-1 win over Martina Favaretto, who eliminated Scruggs in the semifinals of the individual junior event. Scruggs went undefeated on the match with a +8 indicator.

“After losing to Favaretto [in individual], to beat her teammates like that, it felt really good,” Scruggs said laughing. “And I got my revenge bout with her. I don’t know how I won in terms of the score, but it seemed like I was really getting to her. It felt nice.”

Fencing for gold, Team USA controlled its bout against Singapore, 45-30. The squad once again came out strong, going up 25-11 after the first five rounds. The United States then split the final four bouts to win the gold and continue Team USA’s medal streak as it has now reached the podium at the last eight Junior World Championships.

DeVore and Tieu each won their three bouts with both earning +9 indicators.

“For me, [the gold] feels amazing because coming out to the team event and watching them fence and watching them fence cadet, it was really awesome for me to see how hyped they were and how excited they were for the team competition,” Binder said. “So seeing it all come together by the end of the day and winning the gold medal was really nice.”

In the men’s competition, Team USA entered the Junior World Championships as the reigning Junior Team Champions and the No.1 team in the world.

Three members from that gold medal winning team returned this year in Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.), Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.) Kenji Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.), was the fourth member of the squad as a first-time Junior and Cadet World Team member.

With three medalists from the individual events, including a gold medal sweep in men’s foil by Itkin in the junior event and Bravo as a cadet, Team USA dominated its opening bout in the team competition, besting the Philippines, 45-13.

The United States won all nine bouts with ease and Ikin and Tourette, who anchored Team USA the entire day, went +12 and +13, respectively.

“We were able to kill our early opponents because we were intense and took them very seriously from the beginning,” Kumbla said.

Up next for Team USA was Egypt in the table of 16. In the fifth bout with Tourette, Team USA was down, 19-18, but after a medical timeout by Egypt, Tourette bounced back and went on a 7-1 run.

“I guess it was just a change in the tide. The way the wind blows, it switches so quickly and just being able to stop his wave was what got me going energy-wise and what got the team heated up and amped, and that’s what we needed,” Tourette said.

From there, Team USA rolled with the momentum as Kumbla took the eighth bout, 6-0 – his third win on the match for a +13 indicator – and the United States closed the door on Egypt, 45-34.

After clinching victories in the first six bouts to go up, 30-18, over Germany in the quarter-finals and win the match, 45-35, Team USA suffered a heartbreaking loss to Russia in the semifinals.

The United States dropped three of the first four bouts to go down 20-12, but Itkin, who fenced the fifth and seventh rounds and went +12 on the match, won his bouts 5-1 and 10-6 to give Team USA a one-point lead with two bouts to go.

However, the chance to become back-to-back World Champions came to an end with Russia winning in overtime, 45-44.

Team USA had to quickly regroup for the bronze medal match, in which the United States would take on Japan in a rematch of the 2017 Junior World Championship final where the Americans defeated Japan, 45-44.

“[After losing to Russia], we tried to forget about how much that bout sucked and just focus on getting this bronze medal, which we really wanted,” Itkin said. “Even though it’s not the preferred color, we wanted a medal.”

Team USA went up 10-4, but Japan rebounded in the third to take a 13-11 lead. Itkin, who went +12 on the match, got his team back on track in the fourth with a 9-2 victory.

Team USA won five of the final six bouts to earn a 45-34 victory and claim a place on the podium with Bravo entering the competition for the first time since the 32 in the sixth bout and picking up a 7-5 victory to help propel the team to bronze.  

“I think the energy was really high after the beginning. We got off to a strong start. Everybody got really excited, the cheering got loud and that’s all we needed. Once we were on a roll, there was no stopping us,” Tourette said. “It was just really good to end up on the podium. We had a rough semifinal bout, but it shows the true strength of the team that we were able to come back in the bronze medal match and demolish Japan like we did.”

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results in the individual events are as follows:

Junior World Team Women’s Foil Championships

1. USA
2. Singapore
3. Germany
4. Italy
5. Japan
6. Hungry
7. Russia
8. France

Junior World Team Men’s Foil Championships

1. Russia
2. France
3. USA
4. Japan
5. Italy
6. Belgium
7. Germany
8. Great Britain

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