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Guest blog written by one of our “on-the-ground” reporters and bloggers, Logan Schiciano.

As swords clashed, metal clanked, buzzers sounded and teammates cheered, Maccabi USA Juniors’ Boys’ Fencing battled on the piste against teams from various nations on Thursday, Aug. 1. Two of the teams, Juniors Boys’ sabre and foil, would earn gold in their respective weapons, while the epee team would take silver.

The Juniors epee team, along with the teams representing USA in the other two disciplines, all received a first round bye because they were each the top-seeded team in their respective events. 

The play-in match for the epee final featured an unlikely comeback by an international squad made up of two fencers from Great Britain, one from Hungary, and one from Lithuania. Their opponents, Maccabi Sweden,  held a 20-10 lead and with momentum on their side, they celebrated after each point they won and looked confident on the piste. However, things would change as the international team began making up ground and were able to grab hold of the lead.  Samuel Ecsedi of Hungary finished Milton Fridman to cap off the eighth bout of the match and put his team ahead 40-39. Alan Rynkevic from Lithuania finished off the job when he fought against Zeev Aronwitsch, taking the bout and the match by a score of 45-41. After the final point, Alan let out a roar and proceeded to hug his newest friends, his teammates for the day, as they commemorated the victory. 

Oliver Strange of London, who was also a member of the international team, noted that he, along with the substitute Ethan Zazo (also from Great Britain) had never picked up an epee before the contest. “It was magical. We didn’t expect it [to win],” Strange said, recalling the triumph. 

The international team had little time to regroup before facing Maccabi USA’s team of Ari Glenn (Palo Alto, CA), Michael Mogilevich (Brooklyn, NY), and Eli Weise (Seattle, WA); nevertheless, they managed to get out to an 8-3 lead. The early deficit was four at the start of the third bout but Eli managed to tie, and take the lead 15-14. Michael explained how the team was able to close the gap. “You have to slow down your thinking and go one touch at a time,” he said. 

The match would remain tight through the next couple bouts but after Alan broke a 26-26 tie in the sixth bout, the international team would not look back. Over the last three bouts, Maccabi USA’s trio only managed to win five points. The team’s players lost quite a few on instances when they were on the offense and would lunge, miss and as their momentum carried them forward, they were poked by their opponent on the way by. Although this was a “risky” style of play, Coach Gordon-Sand applauded the strategy. “They put it all out there. At the end of the day, they can go home without any regrets. No one was afraid to go for it,” he said. 

Though Team Maccabi USA would ultimately fall short in the final, 45-32, the fencers on the team still took a lot away from the experience. “Even if you’re losing by a lot of points, you have to stay confident. If you are down by a little at the beginning, down get stuck on that, look forward to the future realize that there are a lot more opportunities,” Ari said.

After a silver medal in the Juniors’ Mens’ team epee event, there certainly were a lot more opportunities for the Maccabi USA Juniors’ fencing team as a whole.  

A 45-26 defeat of Germany in the championship of the Junior Boys’ sabre team event, Maccabi USA’s Isaac Alkin (Pacific Palisades, CA), Ethan Frishman (New York, NY), Gabriel Goldberg (Louisville, KY) and Mason Moskowitz (Poughkeepsie, NY) would come home with gold medals. “The team felt a sense of pride [after the victory],” Gabe said. 

Later in the day, the team’s foil squad–made up of Draper Dayton (Petaluma, CA), Leo Lombardi (Berkeley, CA), David Prilutsky (Princeton, NJ) and David Zeltser (Syosset, NY)–was able to take the gold in the team competition after they cruised in their final against another mixed team (with fencers from Germany and Great Britain) by a score of 45-18. 

For more about the rules of fencing team competitions, click here.

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