Jason Pryor and Adrienne Jarocki Win Division I Golds at the Milwaukee NAC

By Nicole Jomantas | Dec. 09, 2012, 8:12 p.m. (ET)

(Milwaukee, Wis.) – For Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.), to say that the North American Cup season didn’t begin how he had hoped would be an understatement.

A bronze medalist at the 2011 Division I National Championships, Pryor is aiming to qualify for his first Senior World Team in 2013, but losses in the table of 128 and 64 at the last two tournaments meant Pryor’s national ranking dropped to #16.

On Saturday, however, everything came together for the Olympic Training Center fencer and Pryor won his first Division I North American Cup gold medal in a field of 197 competitors at the December NAC at the Delta Center in Milwaukee.  

“It’s a little unreal.  Usually I just dream about this. And then I wake up and just have to shower and go to practice,” Pryor joked after his win.

Pryor started off the day with an undefeated run in the pools that gave him a #1 seed and a bye into the table of 128.

After a 15-13 victory over Andrew Kim (Manhasset, N.Y.), Pryor’s next bout pitted him against 2012 Pan American Team member Rob Rhea (San Francisco, Calif.) As Rhea has previously trained at the OTC, he and Pryor have practiced together often and the bout was bound to be close, but Pryor took the win, 15-13.

In the table of 32, Pryor defeated 2012 USA Fencing National Champion Alex Tsinis (Little Neck, N.Y.), 15-7.

Pryor ended the first phase of the direct elimination table with a 15-8 win over Daniel Tafaoya (Columbus, Ohio) and a 15-10 victory over Nathan Sorenson (U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.)

In the quarter-finals, Pryor was scheduled to fence his OTC teammate Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.), but Moody withdrew from the bout with an injury sustained earlier in the day.

Fencing in the semifinal against Graham Wicas (Media, Pa.), Pryor remembered their previous meeting in the semifinals of the 2009 NCAA Championships.

“Graham beat me in the semifinals of my last year in NCAAs. I was up five touches, then he came back and tied it at 14 and then he wills himself the last touch to send him into the final,” Pryor said.

Three years later, Pryor may still remember his disappointment vividly, but a repeat occurrence wouldn’t be an issue as Pryor took an 8-1 lead at the first break and gave up just one double touch in the second to win the bout, 15-2, and advance to the gold medal final against Soren Thompson (San Diego, Calif.) – a two-time Olympian who was competing for the first time since the London Games.

After a minute in which neither athlete scored, a passivity call was made and the bout rolled into the second period.

“I went for as many passivity calls as I could today,” Pryor said. “I’m in the best shape of my life and I feel like if I take a passivity call, that’s more time that they have to constantly fence and that’s where I’m best. I know I could go another round with Soren right now, but I know a lot of my opponents throughout the day if they have to go like two straight periods of fencing where they have to deal with chasing me down and deal with my counter tempo, then they’ll eventually run out of gas.”

In the second period, Pryor jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but Thompson closed the gap to 6-3 by the end of the period and tied the bout at 10 in the third period.

“I’ve gone to a lot of camps with Soren. I knew that if I let it collapse and don’t dominate the distance, I get eaten alive every single time. Period. So I knew that it was the end of the day and I’d seen Soren earlier and thought I could definitely outmove him. My goal was to move, move, move and dominate the distance,” Pryor said. “I got up in the beginning and then he tied the bout and at the end I knew I just needed to get one touch and then just dance my buns off for an entire minute. I felt like if I focused on the footwork, I could make him fall short.”

Indeed, Pryor picked up the touch he needed to take the score to 11 and gave up just one more before winning the bout, 15-10.

“If it’s 10 all and I get the one touch, anyone will tell you I become a very defensive fencer and it’s all counter-attacks and smoke and mirrors. Then it’s like ‘Yes! Welcome to my world!’” Pryor laughed. “I was confident that if I got that touch I’d be able to win. I really thought I was going to double him out to 14, but I got some singles and I knew time was running down and that he’d have to launch and when people are rushed and have to launch me, I feel like that’s where I shine the most.”

In the Division I women’s saber event, 17-year-old Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.) continued her rapid ascent up the saber ranks. Just a year after winning her first cadet and junior NAC titles and three years after picking up a saber for the first time, Jarocki won her first Division I title.

Seeded fifth out of the pools, Jarocki earned a bye into the table of 64 and won her next three bouts to advance to the quarters where she edged 2011 World University Games Team member Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-14.

Jarocki’s semifinal bout against 2012 Cadet World Team member Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) went down to the wire as well, but Jarocki stayed calm and scored the last touch for another 15-14 win.

“I tell myself what I’m going to do and I just do it. The last point is always really planned out in my head so I’m not reacting to what the other person’s doing,” she said.

In the gold medal final, Jarocki scored the first touch, but Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) answered with four straight touches to take a 4-1 lead.

Jarocki tied the bout at five and held an 8-7 lead at the break.

Thompson tied the bout in the second period at nine, but Jarocki scored six of the next seven touches to earn the win, 15-10.

“It feels awesome! I’ve won a cadet and I’ve won a junior, but this is my first time even making top four, forget about winning!” Jarocki laughed. “Obviously, I’ve been working hard for it, but I didn’t expect to win. I did have a crazy path, though, and none of my bouts were easy.”

Jarocki’s win comes on the heels of a bronze medal finish at the Dormagen Junior World Cup last weekend in Germany. The medal was Jarocki’s first on the European junior circuit and the two finishes put Jarocki in prime position for a spot on the 2013 Junior World Team.

“It was so frustrating last season. Last year I really really wanted it and I was so close. I went to all the Junior World Cups and I just couldn’t make a 32. And this year it feels so nice to finally travel there and get a nice result domestically right after shows that all my hard work this summer finally finally paid off,” Jarocki said.

A former ballroom dancer, Jarocki attributes those skills to helping with her rapid transition to fencing.

“I used to do ballroom dancing for a very long time and I was very competitive in it, so I think I’m coordinated because of that and I know what it’s like to be an athlete. I think that helped a lot because those two things my just got to skip over when I first started,” she said.

In the wheelchair foil events, Tariq Alqallaf (KUW) and Cat Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.) each followed their epee wins on Friday with foil golds on Saturday.

Alqallaf, a former Wheelchair World Champion, defeated newcomer David Xu (Staten Island, N.Y.), 15-3, in the gold medal final.

A London Paralympian, Bouwkamp won her final bout over Catherine Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.), 15-3.

Less than a month after turning 40, Corie Ripple (Rockford, Mich.) entered her first Veteran NAC event. Competing in the new 40-49 age bracket, the epee fencer outtouched Natalia Stavisky (Brookline, Mass.), 10-9, in the gold medal final.

In the Veteran women’s 50-59 women’s epee, Dianna McMenamin (South Hadley, Mass.) defeated 2012 Veteran World medalist Valerie Asher (Bethesda, Md.), 10-4, in the quarters and won her bout over Marcia Pierce (Richmond, Ky.), 10-5. McMenamin won her final bout over 2012 Veteran 50-59 National Champion Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.), 10-7.

A former Veteran World Champion in women’s 50-59 epee in 2011, Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington, Hills, Mich.) moved up to the 60-69 event this season where she won bronze at the Vet Worlds. On Saturday, Kocab defeated three-time Veteran World Team member Cynthia Runyon (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 10-7.

Seventy-one-year-old Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.) followed her Veteran +70 Epee National Championship title in July with a gold medal at the December NAC on Saturday. The reigning bronze medalist in the event at the Veteran World Championships, Bedrosian defeated 2011 Veteran World medalist Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.), 10-4, in the semifinals and Catherine Radle (Suwanee, Ga.), 10-7, for gold.

Forty-six-year-old Oleg Stetsiv (Staten Island, N.Y.) took a break from his responsibilities of coaching his Bergen County Fencing team to enter the Veteran Open saber event. Stetsiv defeated reigning Veteran World Champion Will Milne (Redwood City, Calif.), 10-8, in the quarter-finals and beat Bill Becker (Phoenix, Ariz.), 10-4, in the semis. In the gold medal final, Stetsiv just missed a shut out with his 10-1 victory over Mike Krasnich (CAN).

In the Division II men’s foil event, 16-year-old Devon Reina (Stony Brook, N.Y.) won his first NAC title with a 15-12 gold medal victory over Calvin Liang (Phoenix, Ariz.) One of the top-eight cadet saber fencers in the country, Liang’s silver medal finish was his first NAC medal in his secondary weapon.

Seventeen-year-old Dezree Ortega-Furgeson (Wyoming, Mich.) won gold in the Division II women’s foil competition with a 15-7 final win over 18-year-old Monica Weindling (Belmont, Mass.)

Competition continues on Sunday with the schedule as follows (NOTE: all times are approximate start times, not check-in times):

Sunday, December 9
8:30 a.m.
Division I Women’s Epee
Veteran +70 Men’s Epee
Veteran 40-49 Women’s Foil
Veteran +70 Women’s Foil
Veteran Open Men’s Foil
Division II Men’s Saber

9:30 a.m.
Wheelchair Men’s Saber

Veteran 40-49 Men’s Epee
Veteran 50-59 Women’s Foil

1:30 p.m.
Veteran 60-69 Men’s Epee
Veteran 60-69 Women’s Foil
Veteran Open Women’s Saber
Veteran 50-59 Men’s Epee

For complete results, visit www.usfencingresults.com.

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

Division I Men’s Epee
1. Jason Pryor (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
2. Soren Thompson (San Diego, Calif.)
3. Graham Wicas (Media, Pa.)
3. Andras Horantyi (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
5. Dwight Smith (Elmont, N.Y.)8
6. Alexander Tsinis (Little Neck, N.Y.)
7. Narayan Pathi (Las Vegas, Nev.)
8. Jimmy Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Division I Women’s Saber
1. Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.)
2. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
3. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
3. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
5. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
6. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
7. Sophie Keehan (Erie, Pa.)
8. Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.)

Wheelchair Women’s Foil
1. Catherine Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.)
2. Catherine Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.)
3. Ellen Geddes (Johnston, S.C.)

Wheelchair Men’s Foil
1. Tariq Alqallaf (KUW)
2. David Xu (Staten Island, N.Y.)
3. Dennis Aspy (Woodstock, Ga.)
3. Darryl Weiss (Santee, Calif.)
5. Rick Zengler (Norcross, Ga.)
6. DeJuan Surrell (Jackson, Miss.)
7. Randy Lavender (Tupelo, Miss.)
8. Josh Russell (Mendenhall, Mass.)

Veteran Women’s 40-49 Epee
1. Corie Ripple (Rockford, Mich.)
2. Natalia Stavisky (Brookline, Mass.)
3. Nina Inamdar (Rye, N.Y.)
3. Olga Barmina (Davis, Calif.)
5. Carola Schmid (Seattle, Wash.)
6. Janine Powers (Troy, N.Y.)
7. Dawn Lorentson (New Haven, Conn.)
8. Jennifer Devore (Seattle, Wash.)

Veteran Women’s 50-59 Epee
1. Dianna McMenamin (South Hadley, Mass.)
2. Cristina Ford (Salem, Ore.)
3. Marcia Pierce (Richmond, Ky.)
3. Amy Montoya (Las Vegas, Nev.)
5. Valerie Asher (Bethesda, Md.)
6. Suzanne Bloomer (Mountain View, Calif.)
7. Janice Midgley (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
8. Mary Huang (Pasadena, Calif.)

Veteran Women’s 60-69 Epee
1. Elizabeth Kocab (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
2. Cynthia Runyon (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
3. Deborah Theriault (Pittsburg, Pa.)
3. Jann Ream (Iowa City, Iowa)
5. Diane Kallus (Round Rock, Texas)
6. Pam Katz (Buckeye, Ariz.)
7. Anna Telles (Seattle, Wash.)
8. Henri Gales (Greensboro, N.C.)

Veteran Women’s +70 Epee
1. Patricia Bedrosian (Malibu, Calif.)
2. Catherine Radle (Suwanee, Ga.)
3. Bettie Graham (Washington, D.C.)
3. Ellen O’Leary (Decatur, Ga.)
5. Diane Reckling (White Plains, N.Y.)

Veteran Men’s Open Saber Saber
1. Oleg Stetsiv (Staten Island, N.Y.)
2. Mike Krasnich (CAN)
3. Josh Runyan (San Diego, Calif.)
3. Bill Becker (Phoenix, Ariz.)
5. Will Milne (Redwood City, Calif.)
5. Tony Jochaniewicz (Oak Park, Ill.)
7. Stephen Andrews (Bloomington, Ill.)
8. Wang Yung (Bellevue, Wash.)

Division II Men’s Foil
1. Calvin Liang (Phoenix, Ariz.)
2. Devon Reina (Stony Brook, N.Y.)
3. George Dell (Grayslake, Ill.)
3. Nathaniel Tilp (Sherwood, Ore.)
5. John Merrell (Cincinnati, Ohio)
6. Dominic Fracasso (Providenc, R.I.)
7. Will Cook (Jacksonville, Fla.)
8. Jacob Ciesielski (Staten Island, N.Y.)

Division II Women’s Foil
1. Dezree Ortega-Furgeson (Wyoming, Mich.)
2. Monica Weindling (Belmont, Mass.)
3. Phoebe Liang (Acton, Mass.)
3. Alexandra Kissilenko (White Plains, N.Y.)
5. Olga Chernyak (San Rafael, Calif.)
6. Abigail Kayke (Columbus, Ohio)
7. Kimberly Fishman (Hartsdale, N.Y.)
8. Jocelyn Svengsouk (Rochester, N.Y.)