Two-time Div I National Champion Nick Itkin (right) with his coach and father, Misha Itkin. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas
(Richmond, Va.) – The last month has been a whirlwind Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.) many fencers could only dream of, winning NCAAs, Junior Worlds and the Division I National Championships all within a span of just a few weeks.
The foil fencer who claimed the NCAA gold as a freshman for Notre Dame in March, won the Junior Worlds on April 7 and returned to Richmond on Friday to defend the title he won as an 17 year old in 2017.
Indeed, Itkin’s stream continued and he added his name to the history books again on Friday, becoming the first U.S. men’s foil fencer to win back-to-back Division I titles since three-time Olympian Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
He also becomes the first fencer ever to win Division I Nationals, Junior Worlds and NCAAs all in the same year. But the strain of near constant traveling meant that Itkin made the decision to rest before fencing Nationals.
“I wanted a break, so I took like a week off after Junior Worlds and then trained for like two days. I really wanted to come here, but I was so exhausted from a lot of tournaments back-to-back that I just needed some rest,” he said. “But it feels good to win this again and I felt really confident from the start and I fenced really well all day.”
With four gold medals at the Division I level last year, Itkin was viewed as the one to beat at the start of the tournament.
The top seed going in, Itkin held onto the No. 1 out of pools, going 6-0 and giving up just five touches and posting three 5-0 wins.
Itkin blew through his first four bouts as none of his opponents could break into double digits. Earnest Chen (Weston, Conn.) came the closest with six scores on Itkin in the quarter-finals.
In the semifinals, Itkin opened with eight straight touches against 2012 Cadet World Team member Raymond Chen (Dallas, Texas) and ended the first period with a 13-3 lead. Chen came back in the second, outscoring Itkin, 5-1, before Itkin took the winning touch and a 15-8 victory.
Itkin fenced Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.) for gold in a rematch of their July Challenge final in 2017.
With the score tied at two, Itkin pulled away to a 10-4 lead after the first two minutes and ended the bout with a 15-7 win with four seconds remaining before the break.
The win marks the fifth straight Division I title at a national event for Itkin – a streak that began at the 2017 January NAC.
In the Wheelchair National Championship events, 2016 Paralympian Lauryn DeLuca (Parma, Ohio) won her fourth National Championship at just 18 years old, winning the women’s epee gold, while 48-year-old Robert Clinton (Raleigh, N.C.) took the men’s epee title in his debut at the National Championships.
DeLuca, who now holds three epee titles and one foil gold, went 4-1 in her first pool round and 5-0 in her second to take the No. 1 seed out of pools. After a 15-6 win over 20-year-old Victoria Isaacson (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) in the semifinals, DeLuca took on Shelby Jensen (Salt Lake City, Utah) in the gold medal final. A newcomer to wheelchair fencing, 17-year-old Jensen made her debut on the circuit at this event a year ago and has since racked up nine national medals. The bout remained close early in the opening period, but DeLuca soon pulled away to an 8-4 lead before scoring seven straight to end the bout at 15-4.
Fencing in his first-ever national event, Clinton won all four of his pool bouts to make the finals where he built a 10-4 lead over Rick Swauger (Logan, Ohio) and finished the bout with a five-touch run to take gold, 15-4.
The Division I events weren’t the only competitions to see Olympians in action on Friday. Fifty-year-old Jon Normile (Millburn, N.J.), a 1992 Olympian, earned his first NAC title as a veteran epee fencer since moving up to the 50-59 category during the 2016-17 season and earning bronze and fifth place finishes last year. On his run to gold, Normile defeated his Olympic teammate, 50-year-old Chris O’Loughlin (Jersey, City, N.J.), 10-3, in the semis and reached the top of the podium with a 10-4 final win over four-time Veteran World Team member Sean Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.)
The reigning Vet World Champion in the 60-69 epee event, 61-year-old Walter Dragonetti (Las Vegas, Nev.) extended his domestic win streak to five straight events and solidified a position on his 11th Veteran World Team in the last 12 years. Fencing in the largest veteran age group event of the weekend, Dragonetti won the Vet Men’s 60-69 Epee title. In the finals, Dragonetti took an 8-3 win over 65-year-old Daryl Taylor (Los Angeles, Calif.) – a 2016 Vet World bronze medalist.
In the +70 men’s epee event, 72-year-old Frank Hewitt (Jamul, Calif.) fenced his 2017 Vet World teammate, 71-year-old Bruno Goosens (Jacksonville, Ore.), in the gold medal final. Hewitt bested Goosens, 4-3, to earn his second gold medal in the last three tournaments, adding to the title he won at the 2017 USA Fencing National Championships.
Forty-seven-year-old Mehmet Tepedelenlioglu (La Honda, Calif.) won his second NAC title this season and fifth overall in the 40-49 men’s epee event. Tepedelenlioglu earned an 8-7 overtime win against 39-year-old Yasmany Diaz Hernandez (Fairfax, Va.) who placed second in his NAC debut.
The Vet 60-69 Women’s Saber event came down to a battle of the World Champions. A two-time Vet World Champion in foil, 63-year-old Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.) fenced the final against Jane Eyre (Swedesboro, N.J.) who holds six individual Vet World saber titles. Starks-Faulkner, who added saber to her repertoire when she aged up to 60s in 2015, defeated Eyre, 10-3, to take her fourth saber gold medal at a national event.
A two-time Pan Am Games medalist as a senior foil fencer, 45-year-old Julie Seal (Salt Lake City, Utah) also added saber to her skills list after joining the vet ranks. Seal, who has been undefeated in both weapons since she began fencing veteran national events in 2017, added her third straight Vet 40-49 Women’s Saber gold medal to her resume with a 10-3 win over 44-year-old Kate Sierra (North Richland Hills, Texas) in the finals.
In the Vet 50-59 Women’s Saber competition, 53-year-old Kimberly Klein-Braddock (West Linn, Ore.) claimed her first NAC title with a 10-8 win over Dawn Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) – a 50-year-old member of the 2017 Vet World Team.
A 2016 Vet World bronze medalist in +70 saber, 73-year-old Diane Hiatt (Sparks, Nev.) defended her 2017 April NAC title, returning to win a second gold. Hiatt fenced 69-year-old Annie Mannino (Hawthorne, Calif.) in the final, defeating the newly aged up Mannino, 10-6, for gold.
In the Veteran Open Women’s Epee competition, Ann Totemeier (Boulder, Colo.) won her second NAC title of the season. After taking gold in the 40-49 epee event in December, Totemeier defeated Rosa Cano Diosa (ESP), 10-9, in the finals. The event is the first of four for the 49 year old who will fence 40-49 epee as well as the age group and open events for foil.
A silver medalist at the Y12 National Championships in 2017, 13-year-old Daena Talavera (Florissant, Mo.) won her first Division II NAC and earned her B rating in Richmond. Talavera defeated 16-year-old Joanne Luong (Millbrae, Calif.), 15-4, in the finals to take gold.
A pair of 17 year olds earned the top two spots on the podium in the Division II Men’s Saber event as Junming Ren (HKG) defeated Oliver Copeland (Los Angeles, Calif.), 15-5, for gold.
At just 13 years old, James Ball (Bronxville, N.Y.) was the day’s youngest winner, taking gold in the Division III Men’s Foil event. Ball earned his first NAC gold medal with a 15-14 win over 15-year-old Brian Ko (San Diego, Calif.) in the finals.
Top eight results are as follows:
Division I Men’s Foil National Championships
1. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
2. Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.)
3. Sam Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.)
3. Raymond Chen (Dallas, Texas)
5. Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.)
6. Sam Barmann (Barrington, R.I.)
7. Jasper Levy (Bellmore, N.Y.)
8. Earnest Chen (Weston, Conn.)
Wheelchair Men’s Epee National Championships
1. Robert Clinton (Raleigh, N.C.)
2. Rick Swauger (Logan, Ohio)
3. DeJuan Surrell (Jackson, Miss.)
Wheelchair Women’s Epee National Championships
1. Lauryn DeLuca (Parma, Ohio)
2. Shelby Jensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
3. Victoria Isaacson (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
3. Ellen Geddes (Johnson, S.C.)
5. Andrea Hampton (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
6. Anna Kennedy (Ogden, Utah)
Veteran 40-49 Men’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Mehmet Tepedelenlioglu (La Honda, Calif.)
2. Yasmany Diaz Hernandez (Fairfax, Va.)
3. Alexandre Rachtchinine (Herndon, Va.)
3. Tobias Lee (Tacoma, Wash.)
5. Joseph Deucher (Rockville, Md.)
6. Michael Mehall (Boise, Idaho)
7. Kevin Foley (Cambridge, Mass.)
8. Andrey Chushko (Irvington, N.Y.)
Veteran 50-59 Men’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Jon Normile (Millburn, N.J.)
2. Sean Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Chris O’Loughlin (Jersey City, N.J.)
3. Benoit Pouliquen (Newport Coast, Calif.)
5. Mark Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)
6. Ilias Didaskalou (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
7. Carl Loeffler (Santa Monica, Calif.)
8. Jeffery Sumler (Medford, Mass.)
Veteran 60-69 Men’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Walter Dragonetti (Las Vegas, Nev.)
2. Daryl Taylor (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Drew Ridge (Warminster, Pa.)
3. Frank Van Dyke (Las Vegas, Nev.)
5. Evan Ranes (Las Vegas, Nev.)
6. Charles Schneider (Novi, Mich.)
7. Lou Mariani (Santa Clara, Calif.)
8. Michael McDonnell (CAN)
Veteran +70 Men’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Frank Hewitt (Jamul, Calif.)
2. Bruno Goossens (Jacksonville, Ore.)
3. Dwain Blakley (Houston, Texas)
3. Thomas Bronzo (Trinidad, Calif.)
5. Arnold Messing (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
6. Jonathan Jefferies (Alameda, Calif.)
7. Gerald Duffy (Portsmouth, N.H.)
8. Rinaldo Campana (McLean, Va.)
Veteran 40-49 Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Julie Seal (Salt Lake City, Utah)
2. Katie Sierra (North Richland Hills, Texas)
3. Eileen Foley (Arvada, Colo.)
3. Frauke Berman (New York City, N.Y.)
5. Claire Chadwick (Charlotte, N.C.)
6. Claire Deming (Garwood, N.J.)
7. Yik Chun Wu (Alpharetta, Ga.)
8. Lynn Zhang (Portland, Ore.)
Veteran 50-59 Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Kimberly Klein-Braddock (West Linn, Ore.)
2. Dawn Wilson (Louisville, Ky.)
3. Sara Price (Skokie, Ill.)
3. Cathleen Randall (Chicago, Ill.)
5. Chaz Smith (Placerville, Calif.)
6. Robin Pernice (Carlisle, Mass.)
7. Liz Enochs (San Francisco, Calif.)
8. Mary Wilkerson (Denver, Colo.)
Vet 60-69 Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Jennette Starks-Faulkner (Middletown, Conn.)
2. Jane Eyre (Swedesboro Township, N.J.)
3. Delia Turner (Philadelphia, Pa.)
3. Miyako Derose (JPN)
5. Kim Lorang (Schenectady, N.Y.)
6. Heidi Runyan (San Diego, Calif.)
7. Jeannine Bender (Arlington, Va.)
8. Jude Offerle (Winnetka, Ill.)
Veteran +70 Women’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Diane Hiatt (Sparks, Nev.)
2. Annie Mannino (Hawthorne, Calif.)
3. Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)
3. Susan Hurst (San Diego, Calif.)
5. Marsha Reichman (Bethesda, Md.)
6. Sally Higgins (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
7. Gemin Channing (Frederick, Md.)
8. Erica Julien (Wilmington, N.C.)
Veteran Open Women’s Epee April North American Cup
1. Ann Totemeier (Boulder, Colo.)
2. Rosa Cano Diosa (ESP)
3. Sandra Marchant (Prospect, Conn.)
3. Kristin Foellmer (Potomac, Md.)
5. Yuliya Ganser (Laurence Harbor, N.J.)
6. Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
7. Shyamala Nanton (Seattle, Wash.)
8. Valerie Asher (Bethesda, Md.)
Division II Women’s Foil April North American Cup
1. Daena Talavera (Florissant, Mo.)
2. Joanne Luong (Millbrae, Calif.)
3. Kelly Chen (Timonium, Md.)
3. Lillia Norman (Longwood, Fla.)
5. Lu Jia Liao (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
6. Samantha Chon (Bellaire, Texas)
7. Jessica Doyan (Bellevue, Wash.)
8. Alyssa De La Cruz (Chino Hills, Calif.)
Division II Men’s Saber April North American Cup
1. Junming Ren (HKG)
2. Oliver Copeland (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Nicholas Conroy (Ashland, Mass.)
3. Grant Dodrill (Boca Raton, Fla.)
5. Elias Bacon (New York City, N.Y.)
6. Jonathan Conroy (Ashland, Mass.)
7. Adam Shanahan (Franklin, Mass.)
8. Augustus Rich (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
Division III Men’s Foil April North American Cup
1. James Ball (Bronxville, N.Y.)
2. Brian Ko (San Diego, Calif.)
3. Lucas Carter (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Alan Zheng (San Jose, Calif.)
5. Damian Desola (Flemington, N.J.)
6. Thomas Hewes (Lexington, Mass.)
7. Russell Gibson (Lynchburg, Va.)
8. Leif Dalberg (Miller Place, N.Y.)