(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – When two-time Olympian Soren Thompson (New York City, N.Y.) won bronze at the Berne Grand Prix in 2011, Jake Hoyle (New York City, N.Y.) was a 17-year-old eyeing his college options and cutting his teeth as a cadet fencer on the NAC circuit.
Hoyle would go on to win back-to-back NCAA titles for Columbia in 2015 and 2016, qualify for his first World Team in 2018 and, on Sunday, became one of just a handful of U.S. men’s epee fencers in history ever to win a medal at a World Cup or Grand Prix tournament.
With his bronze medal win at the Qatar Grand Prix, Hoyle becomes the first U.S. men’s epee fencer to reach either the World Cup or Grand Prix podium since Thompson did so in 2011.
A top-eight finisher at the Heidenheim World Cup in the fall, Hoyle is also one of only three U.S. men’s epee fencers to reach the eight at an international event since 2017. Two of Hoyle’s teammates, Curtis McDowald (Jamaica, N.Y.) and 2012 Senior World Team Champion Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.), have both earned top-eights with McDowald placing in the eight at both the 2018 Paris World Cup and Senior World Championships and Bratton earning a top-eight at the 2017 Budapest Grand Prix.
Hoyle finished 5-1 in pools on Saturday to advance directly to the table of 64 on Sunday where he would earn three straight one-touch wins to put himself in the hunt for a medal and defeat two Senior World individual medalists in the process.
Fencing 2014 Senior World bronze medalist Enrico Garozzo (ITA) in the 64, Hoyle would end each of the first two periods tied, first a five and then at eight before pulling away at 10-9 in the third. Garozzo scored a single to tie the bout late in the final minute, but Hoyle countered, taking the winning single with one second on the clock for an 11-10 victory.
In the 32, Hoyle opened the bout at 3-1 in the first, but Niklas Multerer (GER) regained the lead at 7-6 after the second. Up 12-11 in the final 10 seconds, Hoyle took two singles for a 14-11 lead with 5-38 seconds on the clock. Hoyle ran back, giving up two as the German chased him down the strip, but ending with a 14-13 win.
Hoyle would be the one playing catchup in the next bout, however. The American ended the first period of his table of 16 bout against Patrick Jorgensen (DEN) tied at one and led at 8-6 after the second, but Jorgensen regained the lead at 12-11 in the third. Hoyle singled to send the bout to overtime and scored first to win the bout, 13-12, with 26 seconds on the clock.
Fencing for a position on the podium, Hoyle was down by one after the first period when 2018 Senior World bronze medalist Roman Svichar (UKR) scored a single with .86 remaining in the period to take a 6-5 lead. Hoyle pulled away at 9-8 in the second and went on a 6-2 run to end the bout, 15-10 – guaranteeing himself a medal by a five-touch margin.
Hoyle would need to get past World Champion and World No. 1 Yannick Borel (FRA) in the next round to earn a position in the finals. Hoyle kept the bout within two during the first two periods as Borel closed the first with a 4-2 lead and the second at 8-6. Borel ended the bout with a 4-1 run in the final minute to earn the win, 15-10, and go on to win his fourth straight international title – including two Grand Prix golds as well as the World and European titles.
With his podium finish, Hoyle moves up to a top-16 world ranking for the first time in his career, holding the No. 15 position in the rankings – just ahead of McDowald in 14th. Hoyle also passed McDowald in the USA Fencing National Team Point Standings to earn the No. 1 position with McDowald at No. 2. A 2011 Junior World Team member, James Kaull (New York City, N.Y.) is in third with 2013 Senior World Team member Alex Tsinis (Little Neck, N.Y.) in fourth.
Exempt from pools due to his top-16 world ranking, McDowald fenced Hongjie Song (CHN) in the 64, but Song took a 7-3 lead after the first period and McDowald was never able to recover, coming within two in the third before Song ended the bout at 15-10.
Cooper Schumacher (Forest Hills, N.Y.), a 2017 Senior World Team member, also advanced to the table of 64 following a 5-1 result in the pool rounds. A bronze medalist at the last World Cup in Berne in November, Federico Vismara (ITA) led the bout, 8-5, after the first bout, but Schumacher regrouped to tie the score at 11 after the second. In the third, the Italian picked up the tempo, fencing the match like an overtime period and outscoring Schumacher, 3-1, in the first 11 seconds to take a 14-12 lead. Schumacher scored a single before Vismara doubled out for a 15-14 win with 2:35 remaining in the bout.
In the women’s competition, 2018 Senior World Team Champion Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.) earned the top result for Team USA with a 12th place finish.
Holmes advanced directly to the table of 64 with a 5-1 finish in pools on Friday. Known for her ability to win in overtime as the anchor of the U.S. team, Holmes put that skill to test in both of her opening direct elimination bouts.
After Fanny Depanian (FRA) made a comeback in the third to tie the score at eight, Holmes singled for the win at 9-8 in overtime with 22 seconds on the clock.
Fencing 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Yiwen Sun in the 32, Holmes again found herself with a tie at eight at the end of the third, but came up with the clutch score to win another bout by a 9-8 score in overtime.
In the table of 16, however, 2012 Olympic Champion Yana Shemyakina (UKR) held two touch leads after the first two periods at 5-3 and 9-7, respectively, before closing the match at 15-12 in the third.
Holmes moved to No. 1 in the season’s first set of USA Fencing National Team Point Standings. Her 2018 Senior World and 2016 Olympic teammates, Courtney and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) did not compete in Qatar, but remain in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions in the standings.
Both of the fencers who are eyeing the fourth position on the team – 2017 Junior World silver medalist Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.) and two-time Senior World Team member Anna van Brummen (Houston, Texas) – earned top-64 results.
Nixon and van Brummen each ended the pool rounds at 4-2 and earned one win in the preliminary table of 64 to advance to the second day.
In the 64, however, Nixon lost her bout to Olympic team silver medalist Hyojung Jung (KOR), 15-12, and van Brummen was edged by Melissa Goram (FRA), 14-13.
Nixon remains nearly 2,000 points ahead of van Brummen in the standings, but both fencers have two international tournaments as well as the USA Fencing National Championships remaining to fight for a position on Team USA.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Qatar Men’s Epee Grand Prix
1. Yannick Borel (FRA)
2. Yulen Pereira (ESP)
3. Jake Hoyle (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Bogdan Nikishin (UKR)
5. Roman Svichkar (UKR)
6. Ronan Gustin (FRA)
7. Ido Harper (ISR)
8. Sergey Bida (RUS)
35. Curtis McDowald (Jamaica, N.Y.)
39. Cooper Schumacher (Forest Hills, N.Y.)
53. Adam Rodney (New Orleans, La.)
84. Soren Thompson (New York City, N.Y.)
102. Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.)
110. James Kaull (New York City, N.Y.)
120. Gabriel Canaux (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
138. Dennis Kraft (Bloomfield, N.J.)
142. Dylan Nollner (Ogden, Utah)
147. Alex Tsinis (Little Neck, N.Y.)
158. Ari Simmons (Bellaire, Texas)
Qatar Women’s Epee Grand Prix
1. Julia Beljajeva (EST)
2 .Kseniya Pantelyeyeva (UKR)
3. Hyojung Jung (KOR)
3. Violetta Koloboa (RUS)
5. Mingye Zhu (CHN)
6. Ewa Trzebinska (POL)
7. Pauline Brummer (SUI)
8. Yana Shemakina (UKR)
12. Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
50. Anna van Brummen (Houston, Texas)
51. Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)
70. Isis Washington (Parsippany, N.J.)
119. Victoria Mo (Irvine, Calif.)
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