(Havana, Cuba) – For the first time since 2012 and only the second time in history, Team USA swept all six team events this week at the Pan American Championships.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Men’s Saber and Women’s Foil Teams each won gold to claim the fifth and sixth titles in the last three days in Havana.
The wins brought Team USA’s total medal haul for the week to 21, including 11 golds in 12 events.
“I’m happy with how we did today and how the whole team did,” said 2016 Olympic silver medalist Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) who anchored the men’s saber squad to gold. “I think people sometimes don’t know how hard it is to close out an undefeated tournament, but I’m happy how the whole team performed at a high level and men’s saber specifically.”
In the quarter-finals against Puerto Rico, individual bronze medalist Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.) had the standout performance of the match, giving up just one touch in three bouts to post a +14 indicator. A bronze medalist in the individual event, Homer went +6 on the match and 2017 Senior World Team member Geoffrey Loss (Laguna Beach, Calif.) finished at +5 as the U.S. squad finished with a 45-20 victory.
Team USA won or tied all nine bouts in the semis as well for a 45-19 victory and positive indicators for all three fencers with Mackiewicz at +13, Homer at +10 and Loss at +3.
Rio Olympian Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), who won individual gold in Havana, rejoined the lineup for the finals against Canada, finishing at +6 with Mackiewicz at +4. Homer anchored against individual silver medalist Shaul Gordon and brought home the match at 45-30 with a +5 indicator.
The win makes the U.S. Men’s Saber Team undefeated in Zonal competition with 13 consecutive victories at the event.
Homer, Dershwitz and Mackiewicz will fence in the team event at the Senior World Championships in Wuxi, China next month with teammate Ben Natanzon (Manalapan, N.J.) who placed in the top eight in the individual event in Havana. Team USA fenced for bronze for the first time in history at the event and fell just shy of the podium with a fourth-place finish.
“I think our main thing is going to be to get the new guys up to where Eli and I are experience-wise. We want to share as much as we can with them so that, when we get to World Championships everyone’s in the proper headspace and what we need to do to perform at the highest level,” Homer said. “I think if we all do that, we’ll be fine.”
Prior to the Senior Worlds the men will train in Japan in a men’s and women’s camp with several other nations.
“We’re just going to take it one touch at a time, one day at a time and one practice at a time to arrive in China in the best possible shape,” Homer said.
The reigning Senior World silver medalists, the U.S. Women’s Foil Team opened with a 45-11 victory over Colombia. None of the U.S. fencers gave up more than three touches in any bout with Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) leading the team in scoring with a +13 indicator. London Olympian Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) posted a +12, including a 5-0 shutout of two-time individual Pan Am medalist Saskia Loretta Van Erven Garcia in the anchor bout. Two-time Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) contributed a +9 to the dominant victory.
In the semifinals, two-time Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) fenced wit Prescod and Lu in the match against Brazil. Team USA won seven of the first eight bouts, giving Kiefer a 40-21 lead going into the anchor bout where she defeated Ana Beatriz Bulcao, 5-2, to close out the match at 45-23. Prescod and Lu each ended the match with +9 indicators while Kiefer posted +4.
Fencing Canada in the finals for the 12th straight year, Team USA earned its 12th straight victory over its neighbors to the north, but Kiefer would need a comeback to keep the streak alive.
Team USA and Canada split the first eight bouts at 4-4 and Canada held a 30-28 lead going into the anchor bout between Kiefer and Kelleigh Ryan. The bout would be a rematch of the individual final where Kiefer bested Ryan, 15-12, in a comeback win to take her ninth straight title at the age of 24.
“I was very excited to fence Kelleigh again because I was in that exact same position a couple days ago and I was just ready to hunt her down,” Kiefer said.
Kiefer used all three minutes to pick Ryan apart, outscoring the two-time Pan Am individual silver medalist, 17-8, to close the match at 45-38 with Kiefer scoring 29 touches for Team USA.
“We all had our ups and downs and some intense moments. It was really close against Canada, but we came through. I haven’t fenced team that much this season, so it’s really fun being back with the girls,” said Kiefer who missed several team events this season due to conflicts with her first year of medical school at the University of Kentucky.
The 2018 Senior World Team for women’s foil will include the same lineup as Havana with all four fencers returning from the squad that won silver for the first time in history in 2017.
“We have our camp coming up and we have lots of things we need to work on before then,” said Kiefer who will train with Team USA in a camp in St. Louis beginning on June 28 during the USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge. “We have the ability to do it again or do better, but there’s still a lot of things we need to work on.”
Top eight results are as follows:
Women’s Team Foil Pan American Championships
Men’s Team Saber Pan American Championships
8. Puerto Rico
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