Alex Massialas, Race Imboden, Gerek Meinhardt and Miles Chamley-Watson won a fifth straight World Cup title in St. Petersburg. Photo Credit: Manky / Bizzi
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Eight months. Five World Cups. Twenty matches. Zero losses.
The U.S. Men’s Foil Team ended its most successful season in history with a fifth straight World Cup team title on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The only U.S. squad ever to go undefeated during a World Cup season, the U.S. Men’s Foil Team ended its astounding run with a 20-point win over Italy – the reigning Senior World Champions.
In what has become one of the greatest rivalries in fencing, Team USA and Italy faced off three times this season with the Americans avenging their loss in the finals of the 2017 Senior Worlds by greater and greater margins during the medal rounds with a 45-42 win at the Cairo World Cup in October; a 45-36 win in Paris in January for gold; and a rematch in St. Petersburg with a 45-25 victory.
All four members of the 2016 Olympic Team that won bronze in Rio de Janeiro fenced in Russia for the historic victory with Alex Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) and Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.) each contributing to the team title.
Fencing Belarus in the table of 16, all four U.S. team members competed with Imboden and Chamley-Watson posting +9 an +8 indicators respectively in a 45-29 victory.
In the quarter-finals, Great Britain led the match, 13-11, after the first three bouts before Meinhardt went on a 9-4 run against Ben Peggs to give Team USA a 20-17 lead. The Americans held onto the lead for the remainder of the match with Massialas closing out against 2014 European Champion James Davis for a 45-37 win.
Team USA and Russia, the reigning Olympic Champions, faced off for the third time this season in the semifinals with Russia leading the match at 10-6 after the second bout before Imboden posted nine touches in the third to flip the lead to the Americans at 15-12. With a 40-35 lead after the eighth, Massialas outscored 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Timur Safin, 5-3 to end the match, 45-38.
The Americans went into the finals determined to leave no room for error, winning all nine bouts against Italy – a squad that includes individual World No. 1 Daniele Garozzo and No. 2 Alessio Foconi.
Imboden and Chamley-Watson each posted +6 indicators to help build a 40-24 lead and Massialas closed out against Garozzo, the 2016 Olympic Champion, with a 5-1 win to finish the match 45-25 with a +8 indicator.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, the Americans will seek to continue their perfect season in June at the Pan American Zonal Championships in Havana, Cuba, followed by the Senior Worlds in July in Wuxi, China.
“This has been an amazing year for our U.S. Men’s Foil Team. This is also the goal that I felt we were capable of all season,” said Head Coach Greg Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) “All the coaches worked together to prepare our fencers and now we have achieved this amazing result. Now our goal is the World Championships as we are determined to go for gold in Tokyo 2020.”
In the individual rounds, Massialas earned Team USA’s top finish, advancing to the quarter-finals for the fourth time this season and placing fifth overall on Saturday.
Massialas narrowly escaped the table of 64 when Luis Klein (GER) took a 13-9 lead and was on his way to the upset before Massialas reeled off six unanswered touches to steal back the victory at 15-13.
In the 32, Massialas drew his teammate, 2012 Junior World Team Champion Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.), who was coming off a 15-14 win in the 64 over Alexandre Sido (FRA). Chang held a 7-3 lead before Massialas rebounded to close the first period, 12-11. Massialas gave up just one touch in the second to take the match, 15-12.
Massialas fenced two-time Asian Champion Jun Heo (KOR) in the quarter-finals. With the bout tied at two after the first period, Massialas opened the second with seven straight for a 9-2 lead before closing the period at 14-7. He would make quick work of the third, hitting one light in the first second and earning a 15-7 win.
In the quarter-finals, Massialas and Kwanghyun Lee (KOR) were tied at eight in the first before the Korean went on a 5-1 run to end the period at 13-9. In the second, Lee scored first, but Massialas answered with four straight before Lee closed with the winning touch at 15-13.
Imboden and Meinhardt each earned top-16 finishes, placing ninth and 12th, respectively.
Imboden’s table of 64 opponent, Leszek Rajski (POL), led the bout, 7-6, at the break and scored the first three touches of the second period to take a 10-6 lead. By the end of the second period, Imboden caught up to Rajski and gained a 14-13 lead. Rajski scored first in the third to tie the bout, but Imboden took the last touch and won the bout, 15-14.
In the table of 32, Imboden jumped out to an 8-1 lead against Nicholas Edward Choi (HKG), a bronze medalist at the Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Anaheim in March. Imboden ended the first period at 10-3 and closed the match at 15-6.
Imboden led his table of 16 bout against 2014 Senior World Champion Alexey Cheremisinov, 13-9, but the Russian came back to take a 15-14 win.
Meinhardt struggled in his table of 64 bout where Carlos Llavador (ESP) built an 8-3 lead in the first period before Meinhardt blew through nine touches to close the period at 12-10. Meinhardt then scored three straight in the third to win the bout, 15-10.
Meinhardt missed fencing Chamley-Watson in the table of 32 after his teammate lost in the 64 to two-time Senior World medalist Valerio Aspromonte (ITA), 15-13. Aspromonte led Meinhardt in the 32, 10-7, at the break, but Meinhardt came back to tie the bout at 11 and edge the Italian for a 15-14 win.
In the 16, Meinhardt kept the bout against Foconi close, trailing by one at 11-10 before Foconi pulled away to take close with a 15-12 win before going on to take the silver medal – his fourth World Cup finish of the season.
Less than a month after winning the trifecta of NCAAs, Junior Worlds and Division I Nationals, 18-year-old Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.) earned his second top-32 World Cup finish of the season, defeating Huang Mengkai (CHN) in the 64 before a 15-9 loss to Foconi in the 32.
Philip Shin (New York City, N.Y.) advanced to the table of 64, but lost his opening bout on Saturday to 2017 Senior World Champion Dmitry Zherebchenko (RUS), 15-8.
For complete results, visit http://www.fencingonline.ru/.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
St. Petersburg Team Men’s Foil World Cup
St. Petersburg Individual Men’s Foil World Cup
1. Maxime Pauty (FRA)
2. Alessio Foconi (ITA)
3. Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS)
3. Kwanghyun Lee (KOR)
5. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
7. Jeremy Cadot (FRA)
8. Young Ki Son (KOR)
9. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
12. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
25. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
27. Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
52. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)
60. Philip Shin (New York City, N.Y.)
71. Adam Mathieu (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
145. Ethan Gassner (San Francisco, Calif.)
174. Hans Kaiser (Detroit, Mich.)
188. Lucas Carter (San Francisco, Calif.)
190. Robert Shikhman (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
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