Kat Holmes and Coach Roberto Sobalvarro. Photo Credit: Tyler Jacobson.
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – While the selection process for the Senior World and Pan American Championship Teams is nearly a year long, for many squads, it all comes down to one final event.
For the U.S. Women’s Epee Team, just one athlete – London Olympic team medalist Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.) – had secured her position on the team earlier in the season after posting top 16 results in London and twice on the World Cup circuit.
With three slots up for grabs, Lawrence was one of eight U.S. athletes who traveled to Brazil for this weekend’s Rio de Janeiro Epee World Cup and each held hope of qualifying to represent Team USA in Budapest at the Senior Worlds in August and Cartagena, Colombia at the Pan Ams next month.
Lawrence’s teammates in London, Courtney and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), were ranked second and third in the nation, respectively, at the start of the weekend and the sisters opted to skip the event as Courtney is graduating from Notre Dame on Sunday.
As both siblings have had successful seasons up to this point, they were in a good position to return to Team USA, but their standings would not be finalized until the individual event ended.
Four of the eight Americans advanced to the table of 64 on Saturday.
Lawrence, seeded 11th in the tournament, was exempt from the pools and preliminary tables on Friday.
All seven of her teammates advanced from the pools and into the preliminary table of 64.
Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) went 3-2 in the pools and edged teammate Courtney Dumas (Shaker Heights, Ohio), 15-14, to advance to the second day of competition. Campbell, who was ranked eighth in the nation at the start of the event, knew going into the tournament that she would need to finish at least in the top 16 for a chance at qualifying for her sixth Senior World Team.
A two-time Junior World team medalist, Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.) came to Brazil to qualify for her first Senior World Team after finishing her junior career ranked #9 in the world this season. Holmes, who was ranked fifth in the nation, has fenced in just one other Senior World Cup and would need a top-32 result to be in contention for the Senior World Team. She finished the pools with a 4-2 record and advanced to the table of 64 after an 11-7 victory over Ludovica Tucci (ITA).
Seventeen-year-old Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.), a 2013 Cadet World Team member, was ranked 12th in the senior standings after finishing third at both the Division I Nationals in April and the November North American Cup. Although this was her first Senior World Cup, Sirico finished the pools with a 4-2 record and won her preliminary table of 64 bout over Bianca Dantas (BRA), 15-10.
Natalie Vie (Phoenix, Ariz.) was ranked fourth in the nation at the start of the event, but she lost her preliminary table of 64 bout to Polish junior Alexsandra Zamachowska, 15-12.
The loss meant that Vie would not earn any national ranking points and opened the qualification door for Campbell, Holmes and Sirico.
Campbell and Lawrence both lost their opening bouts on Saturday to former Senior World medalists. Campbell dropped her bout to three-time Senior World medalist Emese Szasz (HUN), 15-11, and would miss qualifying for Senior Worlds for the first time since 2007. Lawrence lost to 2009 Senior World medalist Anfisa Pochkalova (UKR), 15-8.
Holmes defeated London Olympian Kseniya Pantelyeyeva (UKR), 15-13, in the table of 64 to move ahead of Vie in the national team standings, but Sirico also remained in contention after a 15-14 victory over Sanne Gars (SWE).
In the table of 32, Holmes was outscored by 2009 Senior World Champion Lyubov Shutova (RUS), 15-12, and finished 30th.
Sirico won her next bout over Hyojoo Choi (KOR), 15-4. The victory put Sirico two wins away from edging Holmes in the point standings, but first she would need to face Yujie Sun (CHN) – a two-time London Olympic medalist and the current world #1 – in the table of 16.
Sun led the bout, 6-3, after the first period, but Sirico picked up a single to cut Sun’s lead to two at 8-6. Both fencers scored off a double touch before Sun went on a four-touch run to take the score to 13-7. Sirico singled twice and Sun scored another to end the second period, 14-9. In the third period, Sun took an early double touch to win the bout, 15-10.
Sun went on to win bronze and Sirico earned a 14th place result at her first Senior World Cup. Although she fell short of qualifying for the Senior World Team, Sirico’s result makes her one of just three U.S. women’s epee fencers to earn top-16 results on the Senior World Cup circuit this season.
Sirico climbed from 12th to sixth in the national team standings behind Vie who fell just short of the top four ranking she needed to qualify for the Senior World and Pan Am Teams. Holmes moved into the #4 ranking while Lawrence, Courtney Hurley and Kelley Hurley retained the #1, #2 and #3 positions, respectively.
The full Senior World and Pan Am Teams will be announced following the conclusion of the women’s saber and men’s epee international events next weekend.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who placed outside the top 64 on Friday.
Rio de Janeiro Individual Epee World Cup
1. A Lam Shin (KOR)
2. Britta Heidemann (GER)
3. Yujie Sun (CHN)
3. Monika Sozanska (GER)
5. Ana Maria Branza (ROU)
6. VIoletta Kolobova (RUS)
7. Emese Szasz (HUN)
8. Imke Duplitzer (GER)
14. Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.)
30. Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
35. Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.)
55. Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
76. Hannah Safford (San Francisco, Calif.)
77. Courtney Dumas (Shaker Heights, Ohio)
86. Natalie Vie (Phoenix, Ariz.)
96. Francesca Bassa (Houston, Texas)