Massialas and Hurley Return from London to Win NAC Titles in St. Louis
Men's Foil Podium: (Back Row): Michael Dudey (bronze),
Alexander Massialas (gold), Gerek Meinhardt (silver) and Race
Imboden (bronze). (Front Row): Stephen Mageras (seventh),
Nobuo Bravo (fifth), Jerry Chang (sixth) and Nathaniel Botwinick
(St. Louis, Mo.) – For London Olympic Team members Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) and Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), the Games may have been just over two month ago, but their worlds have returned to a relative level of normal – complete with college classes and a new season of fencing tournaments.
Massialas, who finished fourth in the men’s team foil event, competed at the October North American Cup in St. Louis on Saturday alongside three of his Olympic Teammates and the trio claimed the top three spots on the podium.
Seeded first out of the pools, Massialas didn’t give up more than seven touches to any of his first four opponents in the direct elimination table and won his quarter-final bout against junior Stephen Mageras (Darien, Conn.)
In the semifinals, Massialas’s London teammate, Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) took a 3-1 lead in the fast paced bout, but Massialas scored four straight to earn a 5-3 lead that would grow to 13-9 by the break.
Imboden scored the first touch of the second period, but Massialas took the next two to win the bout, 15-10.
Although the two fencers have battled at the top of the junior and senior ranks for several years, both athletes tried to keep the bout friendly throughout.
“All these guys are class men. Even when I faced Race when we were competing before the Olympics we knew that this was something bigger than us. If we lose, we can’t act a certain way because we all have a mutual respect for each other and we’re all competing against each other at the highest level,” Massialas said.
Massialas’s final bout pitted him against Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) – Massialas’s teammate both at the Games as well as the Massialas Foundation at Halberstadt club where both athletes train.
Although Massialas built a 7-4 lead during the first minute, Meinhardt came back to tie the bout at seven in the second and scored three more touches to set the score at 10-7.
Massialas battled back to tie the score at 12 and then again at 14 before scoring the last touch to take the win, 15-14.
“Gerek’s a great fencer. I’ve looked up to him since I was a kind since he came from my club and was also the only guy from the U.S. to compete in men’s foil in Beijing. I was expecting a hard bout and we’ve battled it out in the past, but looks like I had the day today,” Massialas said.
Following the Games, Massialas, Meinhardt and Imboden have all begun training for their college seasons.
Meinhardt has returned to Notre Dame for his fourth season of eligibility after winning two gold and two silver medals for the Fighting Irish while Massialas and Imboden are incoming freshmen at Stanford and St. John’s, respectively.
With their Olympic Teammate, Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.) fencing for Penn State and nearly all of the top eight in St. Louis representing Division I schools, Massialas said he is looking forward to the NCAA Championships this year.
“It’s a good group of guys. They’re all going to be strong. I’m just going to go out there and do my best and it’s just going to be a wild ride, but, by then, everyone’s going to be in full stride. In six months, that will really show where everyone’s at and us top four, five, six guys that are going to World Cups will all be tough,” he said.
In the Division I women’s epee event, Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) was the only one of her four teammates that won bronze in London to advance to the medal rounds in St. Louis.
Seeded third after the pools, Hurley won four bouts to advance to the quarter-finals againstCourtney Dumas (Shaker Heights, Ohio) whom she defeated, 15-6.
Courtney Hurley, Division I epee gold medalist.
In the semifinals, Hurley met 2012 Junior World Team medalist Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.) who was coming off a 15-12 victory in the quarter-finals over Hurley’s older sister and London teammate, Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas).
The younger Hurley defeated Holmes, 15-6, to advance to the gold medal final against Katarzyna Dabrowa (POL).
The bout was the second of the day for the two fencers as Hurley’s previous win over Dabrowa sent her to the repechage.
Although Hurley trailed Dabrowa, 8-3, Hurley outscored her opponent, 4-1, by the end of the first period.
In the second period, Hurley tied the score at 11 and took a 14-13 lead before winning the bout on a double touch.
“I just changed strategies. At first I was trying different things and then I went back to the plan that made me win,” said Hurley who let loose the loudest scream of the day when she scored the final touch.
“That was kind of like an Olympic scream,” she laughed.
Hurley, who won back-to-back NCAA titles for Notre Dame in 2010 and 2011, said she has fenced Dabrowa numerous times at NCAA events as the Polish fencer represents Ohio State.
Following the Games, Hurley returned to Notre Dame for her junior year.
“We started on like the 20th of August and it’s been a reality check. You’re at the Olympics and you’re on a cloud and then it’s back to the grind of school and everything. I pretty much went right back to school when I got back,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) won her second cadet (U17) NAC title in women’s saber on Sunday as one of five fencers from Oregon to place in the top eight. After a 15-11 victory over Haley Fisher (Kennesaw, Ga.) in the quarter-finals, Palmedo fenced her Oregon Fencing Alliance teammate, Tara Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) in the semifinals. Palmedo won the bout, 15-7,
In the gold medal final, Palmedo earned another quick win over Madeline Curzon (Wilsonville, Ore.), 15-7, to earn her first podium finish of the season.
For Palmedo, a field of competitors from her hometown made her more relaxed.
“Usually I put a lot of pressure on myself, but today I was tired and just wanted to fence how I do at the club, just all relaxed, and that worked out for me,” she said.
The win came following an injury prior to the Konin Cadet European Cup in Poland three weeks ago.
“I hurt my back before I went to Poland and it was almost all recovered, but I just wanted to take it easy before this competition, so it’s almost all better now,” Palmedo said.
Palmedo will compete again on Monday in the Division I event where she will compete against athletes with aspirations of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Team.
“I’d like to medal. Actually, Virginia Beach [Division I Nationals in April], where I got second, was the first time I’d ever even made the top eight in Div I, so I just want to see how it goes,” Palmedo said. “I know there will be a lot of really hard people and Jess Russo’s coming back for the first time in a few years. It’s going to be really fun, though, so I’m just excited.”
After a chaotic year of traveling to both junior and senior events nearly every weekend, Massialas said he enjoyed a much-needed hiatus after the Games.
“I took a long break after the Olympics. It was a wild run and everyone really needed time off to recuperate from the experience. It’s been such a crazy year – such a wild four years, really. But I spent a few days back in San Francisco with my friends before they left for college. Then I went off to Hawaii for a week and then I just basically hung out,” he said. “We had new student orientation for my first week or 10 days at Stanford starting on the 18th and then I really started practicing again. So I took a really good month and a half off. Even when I started back, it was slow getting back into the swing of things. Lessons were really rough. I was a little rusty and not really hitting the target, but, obviously, I trained enough to be able to have a good result today.”
On Friday, 16-year-old Nathan Lee (Las Vegas, Nev.) advanced to the table of 64 in his cadet men’s epee event, but he came back 24 hours later to win gold in the Division II men’s epee event.
In the semifinals, Lee and Colombian Julian Rueda took three straight non-combattivity to send the bout into a one-minute overtime period.
Lee won the coin toss and earned priority – meaning that if the score was tied at the conclusion of the bout, Lee would be declared the winner.
Lee scored the first touch and Rueda answered with two more, but Lee tied the bout with six seconds left to earn the win on priority.
In the final bout, Lee defeated Jonathan Alperstein (Fishkill, N.Y.), 15-7, to win gold.
Division II women’s foil fencer Xiao-Qing Tsai (Salt Lake City, Utah) became the day’s youngest champion when the 12-year-old Pan American Youth Champion won five straight bouts to advance to the gold medal final where she defeated 15-year-old Sharon Chen (Diamond Bar, Calif.), 13-9.
Competition continues on Sunday at the America’s Center Convention Complex with the schedule as follows (Note: times listed are approximate start times. Check-in times can be found on the NAC event page. All events will be run to completion):
Sunday, Oct. 14
Division I Men’s Epee
Cadet Men’s Saber
Division I Women’s Foil
Division II Men’s Foil
Division II Women’s Saber
Top eight results are as follows:
Division I Men’s Foil
1. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
2. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3. Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas)
5. Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
7. Stephen Mageras (Darien, Conn.)
8. Nathaniel Botwinick (New York City, N.Y.)
Division I Women’s Epee
1. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
2. Katarzyna Dabrowa (POL)
3. Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
3. Natalie Vie (Phoenix, Ariz.)
5. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
6. Ashley Severson (Franklin Lakes, N.J.)
7. Audrey Abend (New York City, N.Y.)
8. Courtney Dumas (Shaker Heights, Ohio)
Cadet Women’s Saber
1. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
2. Madeline Curzon (Wilsonville, Ore.)
3. Galen Cadley (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Tara Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.)
5. Mary Barnett (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
6. Anastasia Pineschi (Los Angeles, Calif.)
7. Haley Fisher (Kennesaw, Ga.)
8. Malia Hee (Vancouver, Wash.)
Division II Men’s Epee
1. Nathan Lee (Las Vegas, N.Y.)
2. Jonathan Alperstein (Fishkill, N.Y.)
3. Gabriel McDonald (Herriman, Utah)
3. Julian Rueda (COL)
5. Aidan Antekeier (Houston, Texas)
6. Denis Routkevitch (Longmont, Colo.)
7. Isaac Velestuk (CAN)
8. Emile Perreault (CAN)
Division II Women’s Foil
1. Xiao-Qing Tsai (Salt Lake City, Utah)
2. Sharon Chen (Diamond Bar, Calif.)
3. Vanessa Serna (X, Colo.)
3. Kasey Iverson (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
5. Danielle Ferdon (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. Alexandra Kissilenko (White Plains, N.Y.)
7. Naomi Popkin (Ridgewood, N.J.)
8. Emily Harris (New York City, N.Y.)