Junior men's foil podium. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas
Junior women's saber podium. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas
(Charlotte, N.C.) – The next generation of Olympic hopefuls took the finals stage on Friday when gold medals were awarded in the junior men’s foil and épée and women’s saber events at the January North American Cup in Charlotte.
Junior World medalists Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.) and Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.) won the men’s foil and women’s saber events while épée fencer Jonas Hansen (Cambridge, Mass.) earned his first junior NAC title.
Competing in a field of 260 fencers, Tourette entered as the No. 9 seed, but fell to the 43rd seed in the direct elimination rounds after dropping one of six pool bouts.
In the DEs, however, he went on a tear, holding each of his first six opponents to single digit scores to advance to the gold medal final for the fifth time since the 2018 January NAC.
Tourette would face 2017 Cadet World team member Andrew Machovec (East Rockaway, N.Y.) in a rematch of their junior final at the 2018 July Challenge. While Tourette won that bout, the Notre Dame freshman went on a 5-0 run to take early control of the final in Charlotte. Tourette adjusted his game and managed to cut Machovec’s lead to 11-10 by the end of the first period.
“The final was a grinding bout. I kind of was expecting a little bit of a different game from Andrew actually. I fenced him earlier this year in the Summer Nationals finals so I was trying to do the same things. He has obviously changed and he got me for the first five touches,” Tourette said. “I had to adapt to that, but I think the key was that I didn’t get all angry and rattled and start to rush. I was able to keep my composure, otherwise it would have been a whole different story.”
In the second period, Tourette pulled ahead at 13-12, and retained the lead at 14-13 before Machovec scored again to tie the bout at 14. Tourette scored the winning touch to claim the victory at 15-14.
“I’ve been in that situation many times now. I’ve lost and I’ve won. The best advice I could give myself in those situations after all these times is I tend to win when I’m confident about what I’m doing and I tend to lose when I’m scared and kind of holding back and not giving 100% to every action,” Tourette said.
For Tourette, the victory would be his fifth gold medal on the circuit after winning junior and Division I titles at both the 2018 January NAC and July Challenge tournaments.
“The competition’s always there, so I always have to bring it 100%. The goal is always to win, so each competition, I just take one at a time,” said the 2017 Junior World Team Champion.
A sophomore at Harvard, Tourette has balanced both the junior and senior events this season as he seeks to qualify for his third Junior World Team and improve upon his No. 6 national ranking in the Division I events.
“It's been pretty difficult. This last semester I took a lot of really hard classes just because there weren’t that many competitions and I had to miss the December NAC because I had to take a final, but I’ve been able to balance it so far,” said Tourette who is majoring in economics with a secondary in computer science. “I’m trying to go to Tokyo, but I’m also trying to get a job. There’s a lot of things on my mind. I’m trying to do my best to get everything accomplished, so we’ll see what happens.”
Fox-Gitomer, who won silver in the team event at the 2018 Junior World Championships and competed on her first Senior World Team last summer, took the No. 1 seed out of pools, giving up just eight touches in six bouts.
On her journey to the finals, the closest fencer to Fox-Gitomer would be cadet fencer Mikaela Avakian (Arcadia, Calif.) who put up 11 touches against Fox-Gitomer in the quarter-finals.
After a 15-8 win over Lark Izenson (Atlanta, Ga.) in the semis, Fox-Gitomer would take on her 2018 Junior World teammate, Tori Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.) in a rematch of their 2018 July Challenge final which Fox-Gitomer won, 15-13.
As Fox-Gitomer and Johnson have competed against each other as youth, cadet, junior and senior fencers, she knew the bout would be close – in either direction.
“It’s super fun to fence her and everyone always enjoys watching because it’s such a great bout. It’s super competitive. There’s yelling and screaming. Everyone’s fighting. I honestly just love it. She’s such a good teammate and I just love fencing her so much,” said the Princeton freshman who was competing in Charlotte before returning to school to take her first semester finals.
Fox-Gitomer took a 6-2 lead in the gold medal bout with a 4-0 run in the first period before Johnson scored four straight to tie the score at six. Fox-Gitomer ended the period with an 8-6 lead and was up by two in the second at 13-11 when Johnson scored three unanswered touches to regain the lead at 14-13.
“It’s always like that with us,” Fox-Gitomer said. “Someone’s up and then the person’s up, then someone catches up and pulls ahead and then all of a sudden it’s 14-13 or 14-14. Honestly, if it was a 100 touch bout, it would be up and down up and down the whole time.”
Needing the next score to stay in the bout, Fox-Gitomer assessed her options.
“I was thinking that she’s the queen of parries. She’s got an amazing parry-riposte. It’s one of her strongest actions. It’s so amazing. I was so worried that she was going to parry,” She said. “Then I decided to go for a feint and it actually worked and I got the touch to make it 14-14.”
With the bout on the line, Fox-Gitomer said she decided against a jump two as being two risky.
“I realized that if I lost, 15-14, on a jump two, everyone would kill me,” she laughed. “I didn’t think she was going to parry again, so I just closed my eyes and went for it and got the touch.”
Indeed, Fox-Gitomer earned the win, taking the bout, 15-14, and claiming her fourth junior medal on the NAC circuit since last January.
A 2018 Cadet World Team member, Hansen earned his first junior NAC gold in his first full season since aging out of cadets.
Hansen won finished 5-0 in pools and won four straight direct elimination bouts before securing a medal with a 15-9 win over 2018 Junior World Team member Teddy Lombardo (Mount Kisco, N.Y.) in the semis.
Hansen edged two-time Junior World Team member Stephen Ewart (Lancaster, Calif.), 12-11, in priority to secure a position in the gold medal final.
Fencing for gold, Hansen took a 6-3 lead over Emon Daroian (Encino, Calif.) at the break and scored six straight touches in the second to put himself up, 13-5 before Daroian replied with a single. After a double to make the score 14-7, Daroian scored twice more to stay in the bout. Hansen ended with a single, however, and a 15-9 victory.
Both of the wheelchair saber titles were taken by Canadians with Ryan Rousell winning the men’s and Sylvie Morel earning the women’s gold.
Rousell defeated his Canadian teammate, Mathieu Hebert, 15-12, in the gold medal final and Morel bested Shelby Jensen (Salt Lake City, Utah), 15-12, in the women’s final.
Top eight results are as follows:
Junior Men’s Épée
1. Jonas Hansen (Cambridge, Mass.)
2. Emon Daroian (Encino, Calif.)
3. Maksym Karychenko (UKR)
3. Stephen Ewart Jr. (Lancaster, Calif.)
5T. Adrien Thein-Sandler (Topanga, Calif.)
5T. Teddy Lombardo (Mount Kisco, N.Y.)
7. Sean Wilson (Houston, Texas)
8. Elias Cole (Chappaqua, N.Y.)
Junior Men’s Foil
1. Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.)
2. Andrew Machovec (East Rockaway, N.Y.)
3. Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.)
3. Joseph Marino (Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
5T. Earnest Chen (Weston, Conn.)
5T. James Bourtis (Webster, N.Y.)
7. Shane Iverson (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
8. Carter Hodges (Eastchester, N.Y.)
Junior Women’s Saber
1. Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore.)
2. Tori Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)
3. Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz.)
3. Lark Izenson (Atlanta, Ga.)
5. Honor Johnson (Bethesda, Md.)
6. Mikaela Avakian (Arcadia, Calif.)
7. Joy Yun (Portland, Ore.)
8. Kristen Palmer (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Wheelchair Men’s Saber
1. Ryan Rousell (CAN)
2. Matthieu Hebert (CAN)
3. Pierre Mainville (CAN)
3. Tareq Alqallaf (KUW)
5. Douglas Brecht (CAN)
6. Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.)
7. Rick Swauger (Logan, Ohio)
8. Robert Clinton (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Wheelchair Women’s Saber
1. Sylvie Morel (CAN)
2. Shelby Jensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
3. Hailey Bauer (Denver, Colo.)
5. Terry Hayes (North Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
6. Anna Kennedy (Ogden, Utah)