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Zagunis Returns to Podium with Grand Prix Bronze in Moscow

05/14/2018, 6:00pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) celebrated Mother’s Day with a bronze medal at the Moscow Saber Grand Prix on Sunday.

Zagunis headlined a weekend of American success as her Rio Olympic teammates, Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) and Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) each earned top-eight results.

Fencing in her second international tournament since giving birth to her daughter, Sunday Swehla, in October, Zagunis dispatched the reigning Olympic Champion as well as World medalists en route to reaching the podium.

After a 5-1 finish in the pool rounds on Saturday, Zagunis advanced directly to the table of 64 as the 28th seed. Zagunis ended the first period against five-time Asian Champion Rajin Lee (KOR) with a 4-1 run and an 8-5 lead. Lee cut Zagunis’ lead to one at 12-11, but the five-time Senior World Champion ended the bout with three straight touches and a 15-11 win.

In the 32, Zagunis fenced Manon Brunet – the French up-and-comer who placed fourth in her Olympic debut as a 20 year old in Rio and has helped her team to two Senior World medals. Up 9-7 in the second, Zagunis scored four straight to push her lead to 13-7. Brunet made a comeback, but Zagunis ended the bout at 15-12.

Zagunis drew 2016 Olympic Champion Yana Egorian (RUS) in the table of 16, fencing the former World No. 1 in front of Egorian’s home crowd. Zagunis went on a 7-0 run to close the first period with an 8-3 lead. Egorian fought back in the second, scoring seven of the first eight touches to steal the lead at 10-9. Zagunis answered with a 6-1 run to bring her career record against Egorian to 4-1.

In the quarter-finals, Zagunis fenced Hungarian cadet phenom Liza Pusztai. The 17 year old entered the event after successfully defending her Cadet World title in April and winning her second individual Junior World medal. Pusztai, who also won bronze at the Senior European Championships last year, kept the first period close with Zagunis holding a one-touch lead at 8-7 going into the break. Zagunis reeled off four straight to open the second, creating a five-touch lead that Pusztai couldn’t overcome. The Hungarian scored three more touches before Zagunis took the 15-10 win.

Zagunis fenced 2015 Senior World bronze medalist Anna Marton (HUN) in a rematch of their quarter-final from the Seoul Grand Prix in April. With Marton up, 8-6, at the break, Zagunis slowly closed the gap to one at 13-12. Marton scored the final two touches, however, to win the bout, 15-12.

Marton went on to take silver behind Sofya Velikaya (RUS) who was making her first return to competition since winning her second Olympic silver medal at the 2016 Games. Now both mothers, 33-year-old Zagunis and 32-year-old Velikaya have each been at the top of the sport for much of the past decade as both fencers combined for four of the six Senior World individual titles awarded between 2009 and 2015.

With her bronze medal finish, Zagunis climbs from No. 6 to No. 2 in the USA Fencing National Rolling Point Standings behind her London and Rio teammate, Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) She also moves up to No. 27 in the world rankings as the second highest U.S. women’s saber fencer in the standings behind Wozniak.

Wozniak earned a top-32 finish in Moscow, placing 21st in the season’s final Grand Prix.

Exempt from pools due to her top-16 world ranking, Wozniak led 2016 Cadet World medalist Sarah Noutcha (FRA), 8-4, in the table of 64 and finished with a 15-9 win.

In 32, two-time Junior World Team Champion Sofia Pozdniakova (RUS) went on a six-touch run against Wozniak in the second to set the score at 14-8. Wozniak picked up two more touches before the 20-year-old Russian ended the bout, 15-10.

On the men’s side, Dershwitz and Homer were two of four U.S. fencers to qualify for the 64, earning fifth and seventh place finishes, respectively.

Dershwitz trailed Lorenz Kempf (GER), 8-6, after the first period of their table of 64 bout, but tied the score at eight in the second and finished the bout, 15-12.

His next bout would be close as well with Enver Yildirim (TUR) staying just a touch behind Dershwitz’s 9-8 lead in the second. Determined to finish strong, Dershwitz went on a 6-2 run to claim a 15-10 win.

In the 16, Dershwitz made a statement in the second period against 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist Luigi Samele (ITA), going on a 7-1 run to win the bout, 15-9.

Dershwitz met 2017 Senior World Team Champion Sanguk Oh (KOR) in the quarter-finals. While Dershwitz kept the bout within two in the first period, Oh went on a 7-2 run in the second to take the bout, 15-8. Oh would go on to win gold – his third title of the season – and move up to the No. 2 world ranking with Dershwitz remaining No. 3.

Homer opened with a 15-9 win over Edern Annic (FRA) in the table of 64 and drew 2017 Junior World bronze medalist Dario Cavaliere (ITA) in the 32. Homer built a 14-11 lead against the Italian who came back to come within a touch of Homer at 14-13 when Homer flunged for a one-light winning touch. After review, the touch was rescinded and Cavaliere tied the bout at 14 before Homer put the round away with a 15-14 win.

In the table of 16, Homer controlled his bout against 2017 Senior World Champion Andras Szatmari, outscoring the Hungarian 5-1 to finish the first period, 8-4, and splitting the second with seven touches each for a 15-11 victory.

Homer fenced 2015 Senior World Team Champion Luca Curatoli (ITA) in the quarter-finals, cutting Curatoli’s lead to two before falling to the Italian, 15-11. Curatoli went on to win silver behind Oh.

A 2017 Pan Am Junior Champion, Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) earned his first top-64 result on the senior circuit on Saturday.

After a 2-4 pool finish on Saturday, Thompson won his next two preliminary direct elimination bouts to qualify for the second day, defeating Tom Seitz (FRA), 15-11, and Siarhei Kisel (BLR), 15-6, to advance to the table of 64. Thompson drew two-time reigning Olympic Champion Aron Szilagyi (HUN) in his 64 bout, however, and was eliminated, 15-8.

Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.), a member of the 2017 Senior World Team, also finished 2-4 in pools, but rebounded with wins over James Edwards (GBR) and Iliy Andreev (RUS) by 15-9 and 15-8 scores, respectively. In the 64, Loss fenced World No. 1 Bongil Gu (KOR), dropping the bout, 15-7.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Moscow Women’s Saber Grand Prix
1. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
2. Anna Marton (HUN)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
5. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
6. Liza Pusztai (HUN)
7. Risa Takashima
8. Lucia Martin-Portugues (ESP)

21. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
66. Elizabeth Tartakovsky (Livingston, N.J.)
73. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
78. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
80. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
84. Nora Burke (New York City, N.Y.)
85. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
96. Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
99. Skyla Powers (Atlanta, Ga.)
110. Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.)
141. Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.)

Moscow Men’s Saber Grand Prix
1. Sanguk Oh (KOR)
2. Luca Curatoli
3. Mojtaba Abedini (IRI)
3. Bongil Gu (KOR)
5. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
6. Vincent Anstett (FRA)
7. Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
8. Hansol Ha (KOR)

63. Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
64. Geoff Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
98. Philippe Guy (San Diego, Calif.)
102. Grant Williams (Atlanta, Ga.)
106. Christopher Walker (Atlanta, Ga.)
107. Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.)
135. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)
138. Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.)
141. Michael Costin (Culver City, Calif.)
156. Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)

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