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Team USA Claims Five Medals in Bulgaria

11/22/2018, 4:45pm CST
By Kristen Henneman

The U.S. Women's Saber Team won three medals in Sofia with Keona Moya winning individual silver and two squads winning gold and silver in the team event.


Silver medalist Marcel Merchant won his first Cadet European Cup medal in Sofia.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Team USA brought home a haul of five medals from the Sofia Cadet European Cup in Bulgaria over the weekend, including a sweep of the team events and two silver medals in the individual competitions.

The United States also won silver in the women’s team event in an All-American final. For one of the members of that team, Keona Moya (El Dorado Hills, Calif.), the silver marked her second of the weekend. Marcel Merchant (New Rochelle, N.Y.) claimed silver in the men’s event.

In a field of 38 teams, Team USA went 1-2 in the women’s team competition with the USA 1 squad of Chloe Gouhin (Blacklick, Ohio), Aleksandra Strzalkowski (Littleton, Colo.) and Sky Miller (Durham, N.C.) standing on the top step on the podium and USA 2’s Moya, Michaela Avakian (Arcadia, Calif.) and Imogen Harrison (Portland, Ore.) taking silver.

Led by Miller in the table of 32 with a +12 indicator, USA 1 won eight of the nine bouts for a 45-21 victory over Hungary 2.

The following round, USA 1 overcame Turkey 2, 45-29, taking seven of the nine bouts. In the quarter-finals, the Americans continued to dominate, controlling the first eight bouts to secure a 45-30 win over Ukraine 2.

Against Russia 2 for a place in the final, USA 1 won or tied seven of the first eight bouts to take a 10-point lead into the final bout. Sofiia Kozhukhova made a run, winning final bout, 9-5, but the U.S. squad held on for 45-39 victory.

To reach the final and take on USA 1, USA 2 started with a 45-27 victory over Ukraine 3. USA 2 dropped the first bout, but then won six of the next eight, including a 6-0 win and two 5-0 sweeps. Avakian led the squad with a +14 indicator.

In the 16, Moya stepped up for USA 2 with a +13 indicator. As a team, the squad went nine for nine, not dropping a bout and dominating Italy, 45-20.

USA 2’s quarter-final bout against Romania was close early with the U.S. up just two points after six rounds, but the Americans won the final three bouts to advance to the medal rounds, 45-36.

The second semifinal saw a back-and-forth match and USA 2 would have to come from behind as Hungary 1 gained a 35-31 lead with two bouts remaining. Harrison earned one point back in the eighth, and Avakian swept Katinka Battai Sugar, 8-0, in the ninth to secure the 45-40 victory and a place in the final.

In the All-American final, USA 1 won six of first seven bouts to control the match, 35-18. But USA 2 wasn’t backing down as Moya won the eighth bout, 10-5 and Avakian took the final bout, 6-5; however, USA 1 had built enough of a cushion and won, 45-34. Miller was +9 for USA 1.

The following day, USA 1 also won the men’s team competition. Composed of Will Attig (Portland, Ore.), Donghwan Park (Sacramento, Calif.), Trenton Schmitt (Granite Bay, Calif.) and Nickoloz Lortkipanidze (Mt. Kisco, N.Y.), the Americans cruised through their first two matches, taking seven of the nine bouts for victories over United Kingdom 4, 45-29, and Russia 5, 45-30.

In the quarters, USA 1 fenced familiar faces as it took on USA 3. Behind a +12 effort from Schmitt, USA 1 won or tied each of the first eight bouts to secure victory, 45-29.

USA 1 then clinched a place in the final with a 45-36 win over Russia 6. Despite a 10-6 deficit after two bouts, the U.S. won the text two, 14-6, to take a 20-16 lead. Russia cut the lead to one with three bouts remaining, but Team USA took all three to advance to the final.

In the finals, USA 1 took on Russia 1. The Russians jumped out to a 15-9 lead after three, but Park went on an 11-1 run to give USA 1 a 20-16 lead and the Americans had the momentum from there as they won the next four bouts and went on to win gold, 45-36.

In the individual events both Moya and Merchant won their first international medal.

Now No. 7 in the Cadet European Fencing standings, Merchant went a perfect 6-0 in pools to take the No. 2 seed.

After a 15-8 victory over Darcy Holdsworth (GBR) and a 15-7 effort against Sinan Par (TUR), Merchant defeated Kornel Illes (HUN), 15-10, in the table of 32.

With a 15-8 win over Schmitt, Merchant advanced to the quarter-finals at a Cadet European Cup for the first time in his career.

But Merchant wasn’t done there, controlling his quarter-final bout against Zoltan Szanto (HUN), 15-9, and securing a finals berth with a dominant 15-6 victory over Mikhail Alpaidze (RUS).

In the final, Merchant was edged out by No. 2 Gergo Horvath (HUN), 15-6.

The top ranked athlete in the Cadet European Standings, Park earned a top-eight finish in Sofia.

The bronze medalist at Godollo last month bested teammate Henry Nadile (Tarrytown, N.Y.), 15-12 and Dmytro Shostak (UKR), 15-8, before overcoming his second teammate of the day, Andrew Johnson (Ridgewood, N.J.), by a score of 15-12.

Park made quick work in the table of 16, giving up just six points to Radu Nitu (ROU), 15-6, but came up short of a second straight medal with a 15-9 loss to Horvath.

Both Merchant and Park are in the hunt for a place on the Cadet World Championship Team that will send three athletes to Poland in April. Park ranks No. 2 in the USA Fencing Cadet National Rolling Point Standings, less than 100 points behind Luke Linder (Chandler, Ariz.) Merchant currently sits in fourth with Schmitt in third.

The day after winning team silver, Moya doubled her medal total with a podium finish in the individual competition.

After going 5-1 in pools, Moya posted quick 15-6 and 15-5 victories over Daria Bulba (UKR) and Serra Macit (TUR), respectively. 

In the 32, Moya edged out Daria Monukhova (RUS), 15-13. The following round she drew her teammate, Harrison, with Moya coming out victorious, 15-7, to advance to the quarters for the first time in her career.

Moya continued to stay in control in the quarters and semis, holding Vlada Plekhanova (RUS) and Mariya Zinyukhina (RUS) to single digits at 15-6 and 15-8.

In the final, Moya faced the No. 3 fencer in the Cadet European Standings, Luca Szucs (HUN), and came up short of gold, 15-9.

With her silver, Moya is currently in fourth place in the Cadet National Rolling Point Standings, trailing Gouhin by approximately 300 points.

Team USA had an additional three fencers make the top eight as Team USA made up half the field.

The result was a career-best for Atara Greenbaum (Boca Raton, Fla.) who earned the No. 2 seed out of pools after going 6-0. With a bye into the 64, she posted a 15-7 victory over Erin Corcoran (GBR).

Greenbaum then advanced to the quarter-finals with a 15-11 win against Irina Kupovykh (UKR) and a 15-7 victory over Emma Iacob (ROU), 15-7, but stumbled against Zinyukhina, 15-6.

Finishing one place behind Greenbaum in sixth, 2018 Cadet World Team member Honor Johnson (Bethesda, Md.) also was perfect in pools to take the No. 4 seed in the direct elimination table.

Fencing teammates in her first two bouts, Johnson outscored Vivian Lu (Foster City, Calif.) 15-7 before outtouching Avakian, 15-14.

With a 15-7 victory over Daria Gontsova (UKR), Johnson advanced to the quarters, where she lost to Szucs, 15-11.

Johnson currently holds the No. 1 position in the cadet standings, followed by Miller and Gouhin.

Team USA’s fourth member to reach the quarter-finals was Stella Berman (New York, N.Y.)

Following a 15-7 victory over Emiliya Gubarevych (UKR) in the table of 128, Berman overcame teammate Nina Hunter (Portland, Ore.), 15-12.

Berman then earned victories over two Hungarians two make the quarters, besting Palma Missurai (HUN), 15-10, and Battai Sugar, 15-14.

Berman fell short of a medal with a 15-3 loss to Alina Pastukhova (RUS) in the quarters, but earned her career best finish on the circuit with seventh.

Click here to view complete results.   

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

Sofia Men’s Individual Saber Cadet European Cup
1. Gergo Horvath (HUN)
2. Marcel Merchant (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
3. Mikhail Alpaidze (RUS)
3. Artem Terekhov (RUS)
5. Zoltan Szanto (HUN)
6. Donghwan Park (Sacramento, Calif.)
7. Angelos Pagkalos (GRE)
8. Konrad Ondrik (HUN)

10. Trenton Schmitt (Granite Bay, Calif.)
12. Luke Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
15. William Hu (Granite Bay, Calif.)
17. Andrew Johnson (Ridgewood, N.J.)
18. Ryan Lim (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
23. Zachary Chan (Closter, N.J.)
28. Oleksandr Kushkov (West Newton, Mass.)
36. Stephen Kim (New York, N.Y.)
39. Ronald Anglade (Alpharetta, Ga.)
46. Casper Mika (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
56. John Lin (Stamford, Conn.)
68. Nickoloz Lortkipanidze (Mt. Kisco, N.Y.)
71. Will Attig (Portland, Ore.)
85. Iain Demarest (Forest Grove, Ore.)
89. Sean Moon (Needham, Mass.)
90. Surya Sakhamuri (Sharon, Mass.)
91. Elias Bacon (New York, N.Y.)
99. Henry Nadile (Tarrytown, N.Y.)

Sofia Women’s Individual Saber Cadet European Cup
1. Luca Szucs (HUN)
2. Keona Moya (El Dorado Hills, Calif.)
3. Alina Pastukhova (RUS)
3. Mariya Zinyukhina (RUS)
5. Atara Greenbaum (Boca Raton, Fla.)
6. Honor Johnson (Bethesda, Md.)
7. Stella Berman (New York, N.Y.)

8. Vlada Plekhanova (RUS)

12. Chloe Gouhin (Blacklick, Ohio)
13. Rebecca Whang (Westfield, N.J.)
16. Imogen Harrison (Portland, Ore.)
19. Nithya Guthikonda (Peachtree City, Ga.)
20. Sky Miller (Durham, N.C.)
27. Michaela Avakian (Arcadia, Calif.)
33. Aleksandra Strzalkowski (Littleton, Colo.)
35. Anna Li (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
39. Megan Liang (San Diego, Calif.)
42. Ella Greenbaum (Atlanta, Ga.)
46. Lola Possick (Weehawken, N.J.)
50. Vivian Lu (Foster City, Calif.)
57. Maya Yun (Moorestown, N.J.)
59. Nina Hunter (Portland, Ore.)
155. Catherine Priestley (Atlanta, Ga.)

Sofia Men’s Team Saber Cadet European Cup
1. USA 1

2. Russia 1
3. Ukraine
4. Russia 6
5. Japan 1
6. USA 3
7. Hungary
8. Russia 3

13. USA 2
45. USA 4

Sofia Women’s Team Saber Cadet European Cup
1. USA 1
2. USA 2

3. Hungary 1
4. Russia 2
5. Russia 1
6. Turkey
7. Ukraine 2
8. Romania

12. USA 3
26. USA 4

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