USA Olympic hopefuls tune up for World Cup season at October NAC in Kansas
A clutch of Olympians have battled a new generation of U.S. fencing talent at the North American Cup held in Kansas from October 18-21.
The October North American Cup is the first of four qualification tournaments to determine the US Team selection for Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Medals were up for grabs in Division I, Division II, Cadet and Paralympic categories over four days of competition, though only the Division I events impact team selection for the 2020 Games.
Among the leading lights to live up to their favoritism in Division I was two-time Olympian and four-time NCAA individual champion, Lee Kiefer, in Women’s Foil. Having not appeared at a North American Cup for four years, she beat 17-year-old Nicole Pustilnik 15-8 in their final to get her season off to the perfect start.
In the Men’s Division I Foil, 2019 Junior World Champion and two-time NCAA champion Nick Itkin saw off a strong field to defeat two-time Olympian and 2013 World Champion Miles Chamley-Watson, 15-9. Fellow Olympians Alexander Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt finished third and fifth, respectively.
In the Women’s Division I Epee, Isis Washington won her third career title over experienced two-time Olympian Courtney Hurley, 15-13, with fellow Olympians including sister Kelley Hurley, Katharine Holmes and Catherine Nixon all bowing out at the table of 16 stage to younger opponents.
In the Men’s Division I Epee, Yeisser Ramirez was something of an upset winner over 2012 World Champion and two-time Olympian Soren Thompson, who is making a return to the sport, winning their final 15-5. Favorites Curtis McDowald and Jake Hoyle were both knocked out in the tables of 16 and 64, respectively.
In the Women’s Division I Saber competition, Mariel Zagunis began her campaign for a fifth straight Olympics with a win over Nora Burke, 15-10 in the final, after number one seed, Chloe Fox-Gitomer, fell in the table of 16.
In the Men’s Division I Saber event, Egypt’s Ziad Elsissy was too strong for Rio Olympic silver medallist Daryl Homer, winning 15-11 in their final on day one of competition.