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Zagunis and Hurley Bring Home Div I Gold

10/14/2018, 3:45am CDT
By Kristen Henneman

Women's saber podium. (Back Row L-R): Eliza Stone (bronze), Monica Aksamit (bronze), Mariel Zagunis (gold) and Francesca Russo (silver). (Front Row, L-R): Top-eight finisher Kamali Thompson, Daniella Timofeyev, Elizabeth Tartakovsky and Maia Chamberlain.

Women's epee podium (L-R): Bronze medalists Kat Holmes and Isis Washington, gold medalist Kelley Hurley and silver medalist Kasia Nixon. Photo Credit: Kristen Henneman.

(Milwaukee, Wis.) – Saturday was a big day for two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)

Not only did she go 6-0 on the day to win Division I women’s saber gold at the October North American Cup, but more importantly, it was her daughter Sunday’s first birthday.

“You know, I have to do what I have to do to put myself in a good position and this is just ensuring I get to spend more time with her later, so I won this for her birthday, but I’m excited to go home and give her my medal and have her take a cute picture,” Zagunis said.

Since her return to competition last spring, Zagunis has now competed at two national events, taking home the title at both. With a bronze medal and a top-eight result on the international circuit to her credit as well, Zagunis has now moved up to No. 2 in the USA Fencing National Rolling Point Standings.

“I’m of course upset that I missed her birthday, but I’m just doing it for us and I know when she gets older she’ll understand that if there’s something important you want to work toward, then you have to make certain sacrifices and this is just one of those sacrifices, and it’s going to be a lesson down the line for her that if there’s something she wants to do that you have to miss some things,” Zagunis said. “It’s kind of been the story of my life and this is probably the hardest decision that I’ve had to make so far after becoming a mother, so I’m happy I could get the win today and fence well and set a good example all around for what this weekend meant to come here.”

Zagunis has certainly made the most of her time in Wisconsin. After going 5-1 in pools to earn a bye into the table of 64, the most decorated fencer in USA Fencing history held her first five opponents to single digits.

With a 15-2 victory over Atara Greenbaum (Boca Raton, Fla.) and a 15-8 win against Monir Fahri (South San Francisco, Calif.), Zagunis advanced to the table of 16, where she cruised past Sky Miller (Durham, N.C.), 15-5.

The Div I women’s saber gold medalist at the July Challenge, Maia Chamberlain (Menlo Park, Calif.) gave Zagunis one of her closest bouts of the day in the quarter-finals with Zagunis taking the bout, 15-9, to advance to the medal rounds.

In the semifinals, Zagunis used an 8-0 start to defeat her 2016 Olympic teammate, Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.), 15-6.

“Even though I don’t fence national competitions very often, I feel like this is my comfort zone,” Zagunis said. “Not being too jet-lagged and being around a lot of familiar faces in a familiar environment in my own country, I just feel way more relaxed and I think that showed today in my bouts … I’m very happy with my fencing.”

Drawing former Division I and NCAA Champion Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.) in the final, Russo jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Zagunis responded with eight consecutive points.

After the break, Zagunis extended her lead to 12-2 before Russo went on a 6-1 run to cut the lead to six at 13-8. However, Zagunis held on, winning 15-11.

“I knew that Francesca had fenced some formidable opponents today, so last bout of the day, I just wanted to get it done and I had a good lead,” Zagunis said. “I started playing around a bit towards the end, but I’m glad I was able to finish out and come home with gold.”

Russo claimed the silver while Aksamit and 2018 Senior World bronze medalist Eliza Stone (Princeton, N.J.) each took bronze.

One of Zagunis’ teammates in Rio, Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), brought home the Division I women’s épée title. Hurley has now won gold at four of the last five national events at which she’s competed.

“It feels great,” said Hurley who won the Senior World Team Championship title with Team USA in July. “I’m really happy. We just moved to France and we’ve been training really hard and gotten in really good shape. Today I felt energetic the whole day, which is great because I just flew in yesterday and I was thinking I’d be jet-lagged, but it went really well and I fenced really well.”

Hurley began the direct elimination rounds with 15-7 victories over Meghan O’Reilly (Akron, Ohio) and Jessica Lin (Basking Ridge, N.J.)

The following rounds, the 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist bested Karolina Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.), 15-9, and Ania Garina (Chicago, Ill.), 15-8, to guarantee a medal.

In the semifinals, Hurley faced her Olympic and Senior World teammate, Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.), taking the bout, 15-9, to advance to the final against Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Fencing for gold, Hurley gained a 9-7 advantage at the break. Nixon tied the score at nine, but Hurley went on a 6-1 run to close out the bout at 15-10.

“I like fencing [Nixon] and when I had her in the gold, I knew she does really well at these NACs also, so I knew she really wanted it. I had to turn up the juice a bit for the gold medal bout because any time I fence someone who really, really wants to win it, I have to equally really want to win it,” Hurley said. “With every year she’s getting so much better, but it worked out.”

Joining Hurley, Nixon and Holmes on the podium with a bronze medal was former NCAA Champion Isis Washington (Parsippany, N.J.)

In the cadet men’s foil event, Eric Yu (Encino, Calif.) brought home the gold, his first at a NAC. Cameron Evans (GBR) earned silver and Cesar Colon (PUR) and Andrew Chung (Yorba Linda, Calif.) claimed bronze.

Yu overcame Michael Romanov (Glenview, Ill.), 15-12, in the table of 128 before defeating Eric Liu (Far Hills, N.J.), 15-11, and Andy Yang, 15-7.

Following a 15-8 victory over Niles Liu (Bedford, Mass.) in the 16, Yu’s quarter-final opponent withdrew for medical reasons.

In the semifinals, Yu edged out Chung, 15-13, and in the final, ensured the color of the medal would be gold with a 15-8 victory over Evans.

The wheelchair foil events also took place on Saturday.

For the third year in a row at the October NAC, three-time Wheelchair World Team member Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.) took the title. After going a combined 11-3 in the pool rounds, Geddes swept Terry Hayes (North Fort Myers, Fla.), 15-0, to secure a place in the semis.

There, she controlled her bout against 2012 Paralympian Ruth Sylvie Morel (CAN), 15-7, and earned the gold with a 15-10 victory over Victoria Isaacson (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)

Shelby Jensen (Salt Lake City, Utah) also claimed bronze.

On the men’s side, former Wheelchair World Champion Tareq Alqallaf (KUW) clinched the gold after winning wheelchair men’s epee gold on Friday. Alqallaf hasn’t dropped a DE bout in men’s foil since January of 2016.

Dropping just one pool bout at 11-1, Alqallaf moved direct into the semifinals, where he blazed past five-time Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy (College Park, Ga.), 15-3. Alqallaf then fenced Byron Branch (Bellbrook, Ohio), edging him out, 15-13.

Josh Russell (Mendenhall, Miss.) joins Alqallaf, Branch and Lovejoy on the podium as the second bronze medalist.

The final event of the day, Division II women’s foil, saw Sofia Gaydos (New York, N.Y.) earn her best career result at a NAC as she stood on the top step of the podium. Lea Levi (TUR) earned silver while Olivia Kong (San Francisco, Calif.) and Olivia Ren (Harvard, Mass.) secured the bronze.

Gaydos was tested in her first DE bout, outtouching Emilie Rose Parker (Portland, Ore.), 14-13. She then advanced to the quarter-finals with 15-6 and 15-8 wins over Ava Tran (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and Charlotte Koenig (New York, N.Y.), respectively.

The 14 year old made quick work of her quarter-final bout, overpowering Eileen Ye (New York, N.Y.), 15-4. Gaydos bested Ren, 15-7, in the semis and Levy by the same score in the final to take the top result of her career.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight results are as follows:

Division I Women’s Saber October North American Cup
1. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
2. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
3. Anne-Elizabeth Stone (Princeton, N.J.)
3. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
5. Maia Chamberlain (Menlo Park, Calif.)
6. Liz Tartakovsky (Livingston, N.J.)
7. Daniella Timofeyev (Antelope, Calif.)
8. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)

Division I Women’s Épée October North American Cup
1. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
2. Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)
3. Isis Washington (Parsippany, N.J.)
4. Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
5. Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (Oconomowoc, Wis.)
6. Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.)
7. Ganusia Garina (Chicago, Ill.)
8. Anne Cebula (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Cadet Men’s Foil October North American Cup
1. Eric Yu (Encino, Calif.)
2. Cameron Evans (GBR)
3. Cesar Colon (PUR)
3. Andrew Chung (Yorba Linda, Calif.)
5. John Griffin (Sugar Land, Texas)
6. James Liao (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
7. Anthony Bae (Northvale, N.J.)
8. Brian Li (CAN)

Wheelchair Women’s Foil October North American Cup
1. Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.)
2. Victoria Isaacson (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
3. Ruth Sylvie Morel (CAN)
3. Shelby Jensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
5. Hailey Bauer (Denver, Colo.)
6. Anna Kennedy (Ogden, Utah)
7. Terry Hayes (North Fort Myers, Fla.)
8. Andrea Hampton (Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Wheelchair Men’s Foil October North American Cup
1. Tareq Alqallaf (KUW)
2. Byron Branch (Bellbrook, Ohio)
3. Curtis Lovejoy (College Park, Ga.)
3. Josh Russell (Mendenhall, Miss.)
5. Wiley Clark (Moss Point, Miss.)
6. Tim Volkers (Holland, Mich.)
7. John Berret (Madison, Miss.)

Division II Women’s Foil October North American Cup
1. Sofia Gaydos (New York, N.Y.)
2. Lea Levi (TUR)
3. Olivia Kong (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Olivia Ren (Harvard, Mass.)
5. Eileen Ye (New York, N.Y.)
6. Mia Jo (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.)
7. Rosabel Cepero (Miami, Fla.)
8. Meeah Bradford (Erie, Colo.)

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