Margaret Lu (left) defeated Pauline Ranvier (FRA), 5-1, in the pool rounds. Photo Credit: #BizziTeam
Dennis Kraft advanced to the 64 with a 5-0 finish in pools. Photo Credit: #BizziTeam
(Wuxi, China) – Seven of eight possible fencers moved on to the table of 64 at the Senior World Championships with wins in the pools and preliminary rounds on Friday in the women’s foil and men’s épée events.
Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) and Dennis Kraft (Bloomfield, N.J.) led the women’s foil and men’s épée teams with perfect finishes in pools at 5-0 each to advance to the next round on Monday while their teammates fought back from the edge to continue to keep their Senior World dreams alive.
Fencing on her fifth Senior World Team after winning silver in the team competition last year, Lu got down to business quickly, winning her first two pool bouts and earning a third key victory over 2017 Gdansk World Cup silver medalist Pauline Ranvier (FRA), 5-1. Lu took out her next two opponents and ended the round with a +19 indicator, giving up just six total touches to finish third and advance directly to the table of 64.
“I’m happy with my fencing today. It was satisfying to successfully implement some actions that have historically been my weaknesses, but I’ve been working on in my lessons,” Lu said. “Today I’m proud of how I had sharp technique, outsmarted my opponents and fought. Going undefeated in pools always feels nice, but my focus now is on recovery and I’m looking forward to fencing on Monday.”
Two-time Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) got off to a fast start with a 5-0 win over Miriam Schreiber (SWE) in her first pool bout, but lost three straight to find herself on the edge of the cut line. In her final bout, Prescod scored five straight against Andrea Bimova (CZE) to win the bout, 5-2, and earn a position in the preliminary table of 64.
Prescod returned to form in the direct elimination round, blowing through Andrea Breteau (ESP), 15-3, to advance to the 64 on Monday.
All four U.S. women’s foil fencers will compete in the 64 with World No. 3 Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) and No. 15 Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) earning exemptions from the early rounds.
At 32 years old, Kraft came into the Senior Worlds as the U.S. team’s oldest athlete who earned his position with a gold medal win at the Division I National Championships in April.
Kraft refused to be intimidated by his first World Championships and methodically picked off each of his five pool opponents to end the round tied for eighth with the top 16 directly advancing to the 64.
“I kept the same mental focus I always do. It’s World Championships, but it’s a fencing tournament like any other, so I did my same approach and it worked out really well,” Kraft said. “My goal is to win one bout at a time. I’m here to win. I’m not here to do anything else.”
Also fencing at his first Senior Worlds, 2018 Pan Am bronze medalist Jake Hoyle (New York City, N.Y.) pulled out an overtime win against Rafael Tulen (NED) at 4-3, but dropped four bouts in his short pool to find himself hovering near the cut line.
Hoyle made the cut by three spots, finishing 120th and found himself with a new life and the chance to play with house money as he squeaked into the preliminary direct elimination rounds.
In the first round, World No. 19 Satoru Uyama (JPN) kept the bout close early, keeping Hoyle to a one-touch lead at 4-3. The American finished the second period at 6-3 and opened the third with two singles as he went on to take the bout, 15-8.
With one win needed to advance, Hoyle drew Junior World No. 1 Jakub Jurka (CZE) and held a tied score at two after the first period before pulling away to 9-6 to end the second. Hoyle went on a 4-1 lead in the third and closed the bout with a 15-9 victory to take the 64th position in the table of 64.
Like Hoyle, Curtis McDowald (Jamaica, N.Y.) also was making his Senior World debut after a bronze medal finish at Zonals.
McDowald ended the pool rounds at 3-3 to earn a position in the preliminary table of 64 where he edged Australia’s Jeremy Shelley, 15-13.
In the next round, McDowald would fence Alessandro Taccani after the Argentinian took their pool bout at 5-4 earlier in the day. This time, Taccani led the bout, 9-5, in the second before cutting Taccani’s lead to 10-9 going into the third period. With Taccani up, 12-10, McDowald scored two singles to force an overtime period where he scored first to advance with a 13-12 win.
Rio Olympian Jason Pryor (South Euclid, Ohio) also finished 3-3 in pools, but failed to advance after a 15-13 loss to Alex Fava (FRA) – a silver medalist at the Budapest Grand Prix in March.
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