Div II Men's Foil National Champion Luke Adams with coaches Maksym Petrov, Aleksei Murugin and Yuliya Murugin. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas
(St. Louis, Mo.) – Among the 90 events contested at the USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge in St. Louis, it’s the Division II and Division III Championships that are most known to be wild card events where any number of fencers in the field can take gold.
Fencing as a C17 in the Div II Foil National Championships for fencers rated C or under, 17-year-old Luke Adams (Cupertino, Calif.) rode the full roller coaster of emotions on Wednesday en route to winning his first National Championship.
After finishing 1-4 in pools, Adams packed his bags and left the competition hall, thinking he had missed the cut.
“I was sitting up on the second floor, listening to sad music, about to leave and my coach calls me and says ‘Luke, are you still in the venue? You made the cut!’” Adams said, still somewhat shocked at the end of his day after being five spots away from missing the cut with a rank of 175 out of pools.
Adams won his first two direct elimination bouts in the 256 and 128 by one and two touches, respectively.
“It took me a while to get into the rhythm again and psych myself up. The first one was an overtime win. But after that, I started to move like I usually do and my point was on. It just felt much better,” Adams said.
He went on to control the remainder of his bouts, holding four of his next five opponents to single digit scores to advance to the finals where he defeated Stephen Jackson (Stony Brook, N.Y.), 15-9.
“This tournament didn’t start out too well for me. My first two events – junior and Div IA – I didn’t make the cut. But somehow I just pulled it out of me and I’m still in shock myself. It was a pretty rough start, but this was a nice way to finish it out,” Adams said.
Sophia Cheema (Beaverton, Ore.) also won her first medal on the national circuit, winning the Division II Women’s Saber National Championship in a field of 121 fencers at just 13 years old. Cheema edged Grace Van Atta (Upper Montclair, N.J.), 15-14, in the semifinals, but found herself trailing in the gold medal bout when Kaitlyn Pak (Ponte Vedra, Fla.), took an 8-6 lead at the break. Cheema went on a 5-2 run, however, to gain an 11-10 lead and finished strong to close the bout at 15-12.
In the Division III men’s saber competition, 13-year-old Alexander Jeffords (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) began his day as the No. 6 seed in pools and went undefeated to earn the fourth seed in the direct elimination rounds. Jeffords won six straight direct elimination bouts to advance to the finals where he was challenged for the first time by Gabriel Lobo-Berg (Brooklyn, N.Y.) While Jeffords led the bout, 8-4, after the first period, Lobo-Berg tied the bout at 11 in the second. Jeffords pulled ahead at 13-12 and earned another score when Lobo-Berg received a red card. Lobo-Berg scored two more before Jeffords ended with a one-light touch to take his first National Championship, 15-14.
Another 13 year old claimed the Division III women’s epee title as Ketki Ketkar (Snohomish, Wash.) won her first National Championship. Ketkar and Sedna Gandhi (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) would finish tied for first out of pools with 6-0 finishes and +20 indicators. The two would win six DE bouts each to advance to the finals where Ketkar took the win, 15-11.
Ethan Kushnerik (Brooklyn, N.Y.) returned to the finals stage for the second straight day, fencing for gold in Y14 men’s epee after taking silver on Monday night in the cadet event with a one-touch loss for the title in overtime. This time, Kushnerik would fence a familiar opponent in Stafford Moosekian (Los Angeles, Calif.) whom Kushnerik defeated, 15-9, in the cadet semis. Kushnerik would repeat the win by the same score, besting Moosekian, 15-9, to following his Y14 March NAC gold with his first National Championship title.
In the July Challenge veteran team events, Victorious Secret won the women’s team saber title and Wildlife Fencing won the men’s team foil gold.
After winning bronze in the individual vet 40-49 event, Kate Sierra (North Richland Hills, Texas) anchored the squad that also included Ariana Klinkov (Westford, Mass.) and Leigh Altman (Keller, Texas). Together, the team defeated Mix and Match by a score of 45-34 in the finals.
Wildlife Fencing’s lineup included two members of the Vet World Team in John Kissingford (Ouray, Colo.) and Marek Wyszynski (Forest Hills, N.Y.) as well as individual 40-49 bronze medalist Peter Habala (Chicago, Ill.) and former NAC Champion Kristian Anderson (Lincoln, Neb.) Wyszynski anchored the squad to a 3-0 finish with a 45-37 final win over Sunshine Lions.
Visit https://www.usafencing.org/2018champ-julychal for complete results.
Top eight results are as follows:
Division II Men’s Foil National Championships
1. Luke Adams (Cupertino, Calif.)
2. Stephen Jackson (Stony Brook, N.Y.)
3. Jack Sweeney (Kansas City, Mo.)
3. Vinni Yu (Old Tappan, N.J.)
5. Alexander Wendler (Petaluma, Calif.)
6. Alexander Spevak (Berkeley, Calif.)
7. Anthony Chan (Irvine, Calif.)
8. Kevin Ye (Lexington, Mass.)
Division II Women’s Saber National Championships
1. Sophia Cheema (Beaverton, Ore.)
2. Kaitlyn Pak (Ponte Vedra, Fla.)
3. Ilsa Hoffman (Red Hook, N.Y.)
3. Grace Van Atta (Upper Montclair, N.J.)
5. Himani Kalra (Johns Creek, Ga.)
6. Erika Yong (Fremont, Calif.)
7. Madeline Yap (San Francisco, Calif.)
8. Audrey Chan (San Diego, Calif.)
Division III Women’s Epee National Championships
1. Ketki Ketkar (Sammamish, Wash.)
2. Sedna Gandhi (Mamaroneck, N.Y.)
3. Claire Jiang (Palo Alto, Calif.)
3. Karen Bei (Carlsbad, Calif.)
5. Jennifer Liu (Cupertino, Calif.)
6. Alexandra Dickinson (Medina, Ohio)
7. Nicole Milewski (Jacksonville, N.C.)
8. Michelle Schultz (North Royalton, Ohio)
Division III Men’s Saber National Championships
1. Alexander Jeffords (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
2. Gabriel Lobo-Berg (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3. Marshall Hong (Chatham, N.J.)
3. Ezekiel Gremillion (Newport Coast, Calif.)
5. Conor Travaglione (East Northport, N.Y.)
6. Leo Takemaru (East Setauket, N.Y.)
7. Eric Lai (Plano, Texas)
8. Matthew Leung (Alpharetta, Ga.)
Y14 Men’s Epee National Championships
1. Ethan Kushernik (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
2. Stafford Moosekian (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Ark Ma (Houston, Texas)
3. Skyler Liverant (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
5. Connor Jeong (Las Vegas, Nev.)
6. Anthony Malysz (Orland Park, Ill.)
7. James Kehoe (Conroe, Texas)
8. Isaac Ariza (North Miami Beach, Fla.)
Veteran Team Men’s Foil July Challenge
1. Wildlife Fencing
2. Sunshine Lions
3. The Fat Dragons
4. Denver Fencing Center
5. Cobra Kai (Seattle)
6. Rain City Fencing Center
7. Kilauea Heat
8. Fritz Chang and Sons
Veteran Women’s Team Saber
1. Victorious Secret
2. Mix and Match
3. Four of a Kind
4. Nasty Women
6. Cut Lasses
7. Capital Class
8. All that and a bag of fun