Sabrina Massialas was one of three U.S. women to advance directly from the pool rounds on Friday to the table of 64 on Saturday. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FencingPhotos.com
(Long Beach, Calif.) – Nine women and seven men will represent Team USA in the table of 64 at the Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Long Beach on Saturday.
Forty U.S. fencers competed in the first day of competition at the Long Beach Convention Center with six additional members of Team USA qualifying automatically for the table of 64 due to their top-16 world rankings.
In the men’s event, 2015 Cadet World Champion Sam Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.) qualified for the table of 64 for the first time at a senior international event after finishing 6-0 in the pool rounds at his first Grand Prix.
“It’s really unbelievable. I’m warming up next to these big guys I’ve watched on YouTube since I was 9 or 10 years old. I felt lucky enough to be able to come here and fence pools with these guys, let alone possibly be able to fence DEs with these guys,” said Moelis who won the 2015 USA Fencing Division I National title as a 16 year old, but has only fenced in two Senior World Cups.
Moelis posted a +15 indicator to finish fourth in the rankings after the pool rounds and earn the No. 20 seed in the direct elimination tables.
Prior to competing at the Grand Prix, Moelis took to heart advice he received from two of the top seniors on the circuit.
“I’ve worked with Race Imboden for a long time and Alexander Choupenitch a lot. One of the things they both have said on separate occasions was that I’m too uptight, I have to relax, I’m preparing too much. So yesterday, Choupenitch asked me if I maybe wanted to go to Santa Monica and relax a little bit,” said Moelis who originally protested the excursion. “He said: ‘You have to relax, we’re going to have a good time.’ We got a car, we drove to Santa Monica and walked around the pier, went shopping a bit and looked around. I think that was enough to take my mind off fencing for a little bit when I would normally just be in my hotel room and super uptight worrying about the next day.”
This is the third of five major tournaments in just over a month for Moelis who won bronze at the Pan Am Junior Championships at the start of March and took gold at the NCAA Northeast Regional to qualify for the NCAA Championships as a freshman at Columbia. Following the NCAAs in Indianapolis next week, Moelis will board a plane for the Junior World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
“I was originally nervous at first that physically it would be a lot. But, what I’ve come to understand is that there could actually be no better preparation for a World Championships or each competition than having all of these competitions every step of the way, with a little bit of a break in between, because it gives me the opportunity to make those little adjustments without getting out of the moment,” Moelis said. “So, I fence one weekend; I have three days off to recover, to understand, to remember. Then I go to the next one, making the adjustment that was the reason I didn’t do as well the competition before.”
Two of his teammates on the Junior World Team also advanced to the second day.
Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.), the reigning Cadet World Champion, went 4-2 in pools and defeated teammate Philip Shin (New York City, N.Y.), 15-7, in the preliminary table of 64.
Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif), a 2016 Cadet World Team member, drew a short pool and finished 4-1. After defeating Anthony Auray (FRA), 5-1, in pools, Itkin fenced Auray for a second time in the direct elimination rounds, taking the second win by a 15-7 margin.
The trio of juniors will join all four U.S. Olympic team foil medalists in the table of 64: Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.) and Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
In the women’s event, two-time Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) and 2012 Olympian Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) were exempt from pools as the No. 2 and No. 5 fencers in the world, respectively.
Three former Junior World Team medalists posted pool results that would allow them to advance directly to the table of 64.
Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.), a 2014 Junior World Team Champion, went 6-0 in a pool that included three-time Pan Am medalist Alanna Goldie (CAN).
Dubrovich’s result gave her the 19th seed in the table of 64 on Saturday.
“I am very, very happy. I feel like this was the first time this season where I was able to kind of use everything that I’ve been working on in training and be able to apply it to the highest level of competition,” Dubrovich said. “It’s a really good feeling to be able to translate those things I’ve been working on to a Grand Prix setting. I was very happy with my strategy, and having my coach [Jed Dupree] here was a huge help. There were times where I would make a kind of stupid decision or get a touch against me, and he would be there at the end of the strip to calm me down. Psychologically and emotionally that was really great, so hopefully I can keep that level-headed approach going into tomorrow.”
This is the first season for Dubrovich on the senior circuit since she graduated from Columbia where the 22-year-old earned a pair of NCAA runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2016.
“The transition was very hard initially. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I have a full-time job, so training the most I ever have in my life and also having a very steady job, 9-5, five days a week, it was really hard,” said Dubrovich who is a data analyst for a digital marketing company. “But, I’m used to leading a very regimented lifestyle. I think most fencers who fence on a very high level are regimented people. So, it was more about getting used to this. But I’m really happy with my job. They’re very accommodating and understanding of my schedule, so that’s extremely important.”
Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.), who fenced with Dubrovich both on the Junior World Team and at Columbia, finished 5-1 in pools to earn her position in the direct elimination rounds. This is the eighth straight international tournament in which Lu has qualified for the top 64 and a solid result will allow her to stay ahead of two-time Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the USA Fencing National Team Standings. Prescod, who was injured for most of the season, returned to competition for the first time in Long Beach with one event remaining before the 2017 Senior World Team is selected.
Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), the reigning Junior World Champion, went 5-1 in pools to take the 30th seed in the DEs on Saturday. Like Lu and Moelis, Massialas recently qualified for the NCAAs and is competing in the Grand Prix less than a week before she will attempt to win her first NCAA title for Notre Dame.
Former World University Games Team member Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.) fenced less than an hour away from her hometown, going 4-2 in pools before defeating Julia Chrzanowska (POL), 15-8, in the preliminary table of 64.
Reigning Cadet World Champion Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.) finished the pools at 4-2 with her only losses to Eva Hampel (GER) and Pauline Ranvier (FRA) who won silver at the Gdansk World Cup last month. In the direct elimination table, Binder defeated Anabella Acurero Gonzalez (VEN), 15-8.
Binder, who will fence at the Junior Worlds in April, will be joined by two members of the Cadet World Team in the 64.
Natalie Minarik (Glen Oaks, Calif.) has never fenced in a senior international event, but the 16 year old went 4-2 in pools and edged Martyna Jelinska (POL), 15-13, in the DEs to qualify for the second day.
Delphine DeVore (Westport, Conn.) struggled in the pools with a 2-4 result, holding on to qualification for the prelim tables where she defeated Saskia Loretta Van Erven Garcia (COL), 15-13.
Competition continues on Saturday with the schedule as follows:
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Men’s Table of 64 – 8
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Women’s Table of 64 – 8
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Men’s and Women’s Semis and Finals
Click here to view complete results.
U.S. results for athletes who placed outside of the top 64 and did not advance are as follows:
Men’s Foil Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Long Beach
67. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
72. Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.)
74. Kenji Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
79. Gregory Mitberg (Concord, Mass.)
80. Andrew Zheng (Jericho, N.Y.)
87T. Philip Shin (New York City, N.Y.)
89. Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
98. Nathan Jeon (Palo Alto, Calif.)
99. Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.)
101. Rishi Ranadive (Petaluma, Calif.)
104. Zohaib Mannan (Short Hills, N.J.)
105. Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.)
106. Ashton Daniel (Cupertino, Calif.)
111. Duncan Rheingans-Yoo (Cambridge, Mass.)
121. Jason Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
123. Aidan Chu (San Francisco, Calif.)
125. Joseph Marino (Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
133. Thomas Dudey (Bellaire, Texas)
137. Jerry Wu (Fremont, Calif.)
Women’s Foil Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Long Beach
70. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
72. Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
74. Adrienne Nott (Philadelphia, Pa.)
75. Elyssa Kleiner (San Francisco, Calif.)
77. May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.Y.)
84. Morgan Partridge (Swansea, Mass.)
92. Stefani Deschner (Mechanicsville, Va.)
94T. Isabella Zuzulo (Newton, Pa.)
103. Rachel Zhang (San Jose, Calif.)
106. Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.)
110. Sara Taffel (New York City, N.Y.)
124T. Sara Martos (El Cerrito, Calif.)
127. Morgan Lee (Brooklyn, N.Y.)