Aug 14, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame men’s fencer Gerek Meinhardt posted the best finish of all Irish fencers competing by claiming a silver medal with the United States Men’s Foil Team Monday on the final day of the Senior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
The U.S. lineup of Meinhardt, Alexander Massialas, Race Imboden and Miles Chamley-Watson became the country’s first men’s foil squad to medal at the Senior World Championships, and will end the competitive year as the top-ranked foil quartet in the world.
A 45-25 win in the table of 16 moved second-seeded team USA into a final eight matchup with No. 7 China. Fencing with only three team members due to an injury to Chamley-Watson, the American squad pulled out a 45-35 victory, highlighted by a 5-1 Meinhardt triumph over 2012 Olympic champion Sheng Lei.
Team USA earned its spot in the championship table by disposing of France 45-35. The French opened a sizeable 20-9 advantage after four bouts, but an 11-2 Meinhardt run against Jeremy Cadot in the eighth frame helped to pull the American entry in front 35-32 and spark Team USA to victory.
Reigning Olympic champion Italy led throughout the championship encounter, although Meinhardt was able to score a key 3-1 bout win over Andrea Baldini in the fifth frame. The Italian squad ultimately claimed the gold medal by a final margin of 45-33.
“We had an amazing season,” Meinhardt said in an interview with USA Fencing. “We all wanted to win gold, but, at the same time, we had some really tough bouts today against some really good teams. We were down in most of our matches and had to come back and we just didn’t have enough in the tank against Italy, but they’re an amazing team. They won the Olympics last year and they’re consistently on the top. We’re young and we’re excited and now we just need to keep building on this.“
Meinhardt was the second-highest U.S. finisher during the individual men’s foil event Aug. 9, claiming a 10th-place finish. The Notre Dame standout advanced through the first two tables by beating China’s Bin Sun (15-9) and Ukraine’s Andrii Pogrebniak (15-13) before meeting China’s Lei for a berth in the finals. Lei prevailed in a hard-fought 15-14 bout, setting the stage for Meinhardt’s bounce-back triumph against Lei later in the team event.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis earned her seventh career team medal at the Senior World Championships as a member of the U.S. women’s sabre squad Monday, as Team USA captured its third straight Senior World bronze medal. Zagunis has now been a part of all seven U.S. teams that have medaled at the event.
The No. 3 U.S. entry cruised past Belarus (45-20) in the round of 16 and Azerbajian (45-33) in the quarterfinals to set the stage for a semifinal battle with three-time reigning champion Russia. Zagunis earned a 5-5 split in a marquee matchup with Ekaterina Dyachenko, but Russia held onto its double-digit touch advantage to claim a 45-33 victory.
Zagunis became the first fencer with Irish ties to reach a weapon final at the 2013 Senior Worlds, placing fifth in the women's individual sabre Aug. 9. She entered the week as the only woman in the table to have won the individual sabre event at the Senior World Championships, placing first in both 2009 and 2010.
The number two overall seed, Zagunis opened the table of 64 with a 15-4 victory over Canada's Marissa Ponich. The Beaverton, Ore. native claimed her second straight win by 10 or more touches (15-5) in a round of 32 bout against 2012 World Junior Medalist Saoussen Boudiaf (France). Zagunis advanced through the table of 16 after outlasting Poland's Matylda Ostojska 15-8 to qualify for the final eight.
Zagunis dropped a heartbreaking 15-14 decision in the quarterfinals to Russia's Dyachenko to end her championship run. Dyachenko ultimately claimed the silver medal in the women's individual sabre.
Courtney Hurley (’13) made her sixth Senior World Championships appearance, finishing a career-best 11th in the women’s individual epee Aug. 8. She previously qualified for the table of 32 in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
Hurley scored five straight touches to close the first period with a 6-3 lead over Finland’s Catherina Kock, ultimately winning a 15-9 decision. Hurley motored through the round of 32 against Romania’s Simona Pop (15-10) to move into the table of 16 against A Lam Shin (Korea). Shin erased an early 3-1 deficit to score six of the final nine touches and take the tightly contested bout 7-6.
Hurley added a second top-15 result during the competition by earning a 12th-place finish last Sunday with the U.S. women’s epee team and sister Kelley Hurley (’10). Team USA rolled through the table of 32 against Mongolia (45-9). After a narrow 35-27 loss at the hands of France in the table of 16, the U.S. squad won a thrilling 45-44 decision to remain in position for a top-10 placement.
Kelley Hurley shined in a matchup with Germany to determine 11th place, scoring 12 combined touches over two bouts, but the Germans ultimately outlasted Team USA 42-34.
Lee Kiefer (U.S.) and Adriana Camacho (Mexico) each competed in the second final of the competition Aug. 7, as both current Notre Dame fencers were entered in the women’s individual foil draw. Kiefer ultimately placed 17th in the event, while Camacho finished in 64th place.
Kiefer made light work of Canada’s Eleanor Harvey (15-5) during her table of 64 bout, but ran into 2012 Olympic teammate Nicole Ross in the round of 32. With Ross in front 10-6 after the first period, Kiefer stormed back with five of six touches to square the contest at 11-all.
Ross took control with three consecutive touches and completed the upset 15-12.