(Virginia Beach, Va.) – During the three months since the Olympic Games, nearly all of the athletes have taken some much deserved time off following a grinding four-year lead-up to London, but Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) were ready to return to the top of the podium at the November North American Cup on Saturday.
Fencing for the first time in competition since placing sixth in men’s saber at his first Olympic Games, Homer said he was motivated by his opponents who fenced at the October NAC.
“It’s definitely tough getting back into everything, but I saw the results from the last tournament and I really wanted to get back and show that I can still fence at a high level,” said Homer who has returned to St. John’s for his junior year and is interning in New York City when he isn’t in class.
Seeded fourth after finishing undefeated in the pools, Homer won four straight bouts to advance to the semifinals where he earned a 15-8 victory Aleksander Ochocki (Linden, N.J.) – Homer’s teammate at the 2010 Junior World Championships where the two won bronze in the team event.
In the gold medal final, Homer faced 2012 Junior World silver medalist Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) – the 16-year-old who upset 2008 Olympic silver medalist Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.), 15-12, in the other semifinal.
Homer started the bout strong and took a 5-1 lead before he needed a medical timeout for cramping.
“I’ve actually been cramping since my round of eight bout. I’m now stranger to cramping and I know how to fence through it, but at a certain point you think ‘It’s the gold medal bout, maybe I should stop for a second,’ but after that it was fine. I’m sure tonight I’ll continue to cramp up, but I just wanted to get through the bout,” Homer said.
After the break, Homer was back in form and closed out the bout, 15-7, to win the first gold medal for the top-ranked U.S. fencer since the 2011 December North American Cup.
“I think I got progressively better as the day went on. Generally, I jump to a big lead and then watch it go down, so it was good to be able to start and finish my bouts well all day,” said Homer who noted that he’s slowly returning to his training regimen. “Today I think I fenced much better than I’ve fenced in practice. Leading up to this competition I’ve had a few bad practices last week. I’m practicing about three days a week right now, but I went in on Sunday and worked on my footwork and I think it paid off and definitely felt that my movement was back where it should be. I feel pretty good for how much I’ve been training and where I need to be right now.”
In the women’s epee event, Hurley found herself competing in an unusual situation for the first time in years – fencing at a tournament without her younger sister, Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas). The two have fenced on national teams and at NACs together for 10 years and the duo won bronze in London as members of the women’s epee team, but this time Courtney chose to skip the event.
“I was nervous because my sister’s not here. So I thought the pressure was really on me now because both of us have taken turns winning at the NACs and I haven’t been fencing much at all,” Hurley said.
Fortunately, the elder Hurley got her nerves out early with a 6-0 result in the pools and a fourth seed into the direct elimination tables where she won her first two bouts against Sarah Waller (McKinney, Texas), 15-6, and Alexandra Keft (Las Vegas, Nev.), 15-5, to advance to the table of 16 where she defeated her 2012 Olympic teammate Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, Minn.), 15-13.
Hurley narrowly missed a trip to the repechage when she squeaked out a 15-14 victory over Courtney Dumas (Shaker Heights, Ohio) in her next bout to advance to the quarter-finals.
In the quarters, Hurley jumped out to an 11-0 lead over Katrzyna Dabrowa – the Polish fencer who won the silver medal at the October NAC after a hard-fought bout with Hurley’s sister.
“That bout was crazy. I was like ‘is this really happening right now?’” Hurley laughed. “I’ve never fenced her before, but my sister’s always had a hard time with her and my sister’s a really good fencer, so I thought she’d be tough for me. I think she has a little problem with lefties, though, so maybe that was it.”
After the dominant win, Hurley struggled in her semifinal with Nik-Nik Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.) where Ameli led the bout, 6-2, before Hurley came back for a 15-9 win.
Hurley met 2012 Junior World medalist Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.) in the gold medal bout where she won the bout, 15-11.
“I didn’t think I’d make it through the day, to be honest since I haven’t been fencing much at all, so I was pretty surprised at how well I fenced today,” Hurley said. “I run and swim every day, but as far as fencing goes I’ve really just been showing up at the NACs and seeing how it goes.”
Hurley plans on returning to the international circuit slowly in January where she intends on competing in the two team World Cup events on the schedule.
While her dreams of medical school are currently on hold, Hurley said she started her MCAT class three weeks ago and has been accepted into a master’s in public health program at the University of Texas – San Antonio where she’ll begin coursework in January.
“I’m taking the MCAT in January, but, because of Rio, I can’t even apply until 2014 at the earliest, but I’m excited to get back into school again and think this will be good preparation for med school,” Hurley said.
In the junior men’s foil event, Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.) won his second straight junior NAC title after taking gold at the U19 event at the July NAC.
Now a freshman at Harvard, the 2012 Junior World Team Champion didn’t give up more than six touches to any of his first three opponents of the day, but said his toughest challenge was his table of 16 bout against Harvard teammate Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
“Fencing Brian was definitely my hardest bout because we fence each other all the time in practice and you always know what the other one’s going to do,” Chang said.
In the quarter-finals, Chang defeated Harrison Bergman (Lebanon, N.J.), 15-10.
Chang’s semifinal opponent, Alex Chiang (Atlanta, Ga.), kept the score within a touch or two for nearly the entire bout, but Chang scored two straight to close out the bout, 15-12.
In the gold medal bout, Chang held off a comeback by 2011 Cadet World Team member Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.) and earned the gold with a 15-12 victory.
During the day off between the junior and Division I women’s team saber events, eight teams competed in the senior women’s team saber competition.
Paola Pliego (MEX) anchored her OFA Tigers teammates – Mary Barnett (Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Tara Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) to a 45-39 victory in the gold medal bout of Salle D’Assaro’s Katerine Kempe (GBR), Tiffany Dell’Aquila (Pasadena, Calif.) and Taylor Walsh (Carlsbad, Calif.)
After a 45-38 loss to the OFA Tigers in the semifinals, Mission Fencing rebounded to defeat Les Seigneurs de la Rive-Nord, 45-37, in the bronze medal match.
Mission’s team included juniors Alexa Antipas (Stony Brook, N.Y.), Kathryn Charpin (East Setauket, N.Y.) and Carly Weber-Levine (Old Field, N.Y.)
The fourth-place Seigneurs de la Rive-Nord included anchor Gabriella Page (CAN) and her Canadian teammates Imola Bakos and Frederique Bourget.
The night ended with two hotly contested final matches in the men’s team epee event.
The DC Fencers Club Team of Corwin Duncan (College Park, Md.), Byron Neslund (Rockville, Md.) and Isaac Erbele (Washington, D.C.) led the gold medal bout by 34-26 against the Northwest Fencing Center’s Kyle Wolfson (Portland, Ore.), Ryan Tomlinson (Westfield, Wis.) and Adam Frank (Portland, Ore.) after the first eight bouts.
In the ninth, however, Wolfson outscored Neslund, 18-10, to tie the match at 44 and force an overtime period.
Frank scored the first sudden death touch, however, to win the match, 45-44.
In the bronze medal match, the East Bay Fencers Gym team of Rob Rhea (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Mehmet Tepedelenlioglu (La Honda, Calif.) and Keith Lichten (Oakland, Calif.) fenced the Vivo Fencing Club’s Andras Peterdi (HUN), Alex House (Upton, Mass.) and Inaki De Guzman (Fairfax, Va.)
Although Vivo Fencing Club held a 36-34 lead after the eighth bout, 2012 Pan American Team member Rhea outscored House, 10-6, to give East Bay the win, 44-42.
Competition continues on Sunday with the schedule as follows (note: all times are approximate start times, not check-in times):
Sunday, November 11
Division I Men’s Individual Epee
Division I Women’s Individual Saber
Senior Men’s Team Saber
Junior Women’s Individual Foil
Complete results can be viewed at www.usfencingresults.com.
Top eight results are as follows:
Division I Women’s Individual Epee
1. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
2. Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
3. Nik-Nik Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Francesca Bassa (Houston, Texas)
5. Anna Van Brummen (Houston, Texas)
6. Isabel Ford (Portland, Ore.)
7. Katrzyna Dabrowa (POL)
8. Nina Van Loon (Boulder, Colo.)
Division I Men’s Individual Saber
1. Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
2. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
3. Timothy Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Aleksander Ochocki (Linden, N.J.)
5. Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)
6. Andrew Mackiewicz (Westwood, Mass.)
7. Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.)
8. Fares Arfa (CAN)
Junior Men’s Individual Foil
1. Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
2. Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
3. Alex Chiang (Atlanta, Ga.)
3. Stephen Mageras (Darien, Conn.)
5. Jacob Stein (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. John Avendano (Colts Neck, N.J.)
7. Harrison Bergman (Lebanon, N.J.)
8. Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.)
Senior Women’s Team Saber
1. OFA Tigers
2. Salle D’Asaro
4. Leis Seigneurs de la Rive Nord
5. Boston Fencing Club
6. UC San Diego
7. OFA Zebras
Senior Men’s Team Epee
1. DC Fencers Club
2. NWFC 1
3. East Bay Fencers Gym
4. Vivo Fencing Club
5. Ligonier Fencing Club
6. Illinois Fencing Club
7. Gold Blade Fencing Center
8. Hooked on Fencing