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Over the past two weeks, NBC 4's Bruce Beck has encountered and written about various athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, but none seemed to have had the great effect on Beck that St. John's Olympic trio of Phobay Kutu-Akoi, Dagmara Wozniak and Daryl Homer did. Beck, a St. John's university alumnus himself, wrote a letter to St. John's school president Rev. Donald J. Harrington discussing the impact that St. John's athletes had on him during his time in London, and how much Red Storm pride he felt in knowing what kind of student-athletes Father Harrington and his University were producing.



A preview of the Junior North American Cup with Sophomores Eli Schenkel and Wilfred Curioso. Eli and Wilfred, who are both coming off of outstanding freshman seasons, will be two of six St. John's fencers who will begin competition in Austin, Texas tomorrow, Nov. 11.

2011-12 Season Outlook Part One: Nicholas Vomero

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With a seventh place finish in the World University Games this summer, Senior Nicholas Vomero is ready to help lead the STJ fencing squad to another successful campaign. This video is the first part of a series of 2011-12 Season Outlook interviews.

Coach Gelman Recaps World Fencing Championships

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St. John's fencing Head Coach Yury Gelman recaps his experience coaching Team U.S.A. at the World Fencing Championships in Catania, Italy.

En Garde with Dagmara

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Dagmara Wozniak previews her trip to Paris for the 2010 Fencing World Championships.

En Garde with Dagmara

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Well, I'm back from Russia where I had another amazing result. I placed seventh in the competition and the points that I received from the placement led me to be ranked tenth in the world.

I made three finals in a row which is a huge improvement from last year and it's the best feeling when you can be consistent in competition. Coach Gelman was there watching me so that was very exciting as well because it's been a long time since he watched me compete internationally. He was in Russia with the United States men's saber team and was able to stay for the women's individual competition.

After the individual competition, we fenced the team event which was so hard because my body was not doing anything I was telling it to do. I wasn't sore but I had muscle fatigue which inhibited me from explosive motions and in fencing you need this!  First we fenced Team Singapore and we won 45-20 or so. Then we had to fence France to make the top four.  It was a rough start and by the time we got ourselves together it was too late and we were defeated 45-39.

In the team event you fence 3 fencers vs. 3 fencers. The first two fencers bout to 5 touches, and then the next two start at 5 and bout until one side reaches 10. That rotation continues until one team reaches 45. 

After we lost to France, we fenced Korea and Poland for fifth place and won both competitions. Overall my competition in Russia was successful, but now it's time to make that success run into my schoolwork!

Go Red Storm!
-Dagmara

En Garde with Dagmara

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Success! The new season has started for me and I now have two strong results in the first two competitions. In London I placed sixth and this past weekend I placed eighth in Orleans, France.

There were a total of 120 competitors from many different countries competing in France. My first match was against Azzla Besbes from Tunesia. I started the bout very strong but my patience soon ran out and I started rushing all of my actions.  Finally, I was able to calm myself down and finish the bout. 

My next match was against Orsyla Nagy from Hungary.  I was pretty nervous before this bout because she is a strong fencer who I have never competed against before.  We were both fencing as hard as we could and I pulled out in the end by one point. 

That result put me into the top-16 where I had to face Ola Socha from Poland to make the top-8. She is very tall and strong and I knew that if I was going to win I had to fence my absolute best and not sleep on any touches because one mistake can turn the whole outcome of the bout around. 

To start the bout, Socha and I clashed guards twice and I hurt my wrist. After the first time, I tried to shake it off and focus, but after it happened for the second time, I could feel the pain all the way to my shoulder.  Again, I tried to relax and shake it off and keep fencing but could not stop thinking about the pain. I tried to squeeze my hands around my guard but I could feel the weakness starting to show. The bout reached the 14-14 mark (the first person to reach 15 wins), when we clashed again and I thought this crash was the one that broke my wrist. I didn't even wait for the director to make the call I automatically turned around and started to panic because the pain was alarming. The director asked me if I was okay and I told him I would need a minute to collect myself, but he then asked if I could just salute my opponent which is the signal for ending the bout. 

I couldn't believe that I had won! That win marked only the second time I've made a final at this level of competition and it feels amazing.  Now I am currently ranked top-16 in the world.  Any athlete can tell you that it feels amazing when you practice something over and over again and finally have that one moment where you execute everything correctly and get a positive result.  Those are the moments I cherish.

-Dagmara Wozniak

En Garde with Dagmara (Feb. 3, 2010)

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The first competition of my European trip was in London, where I placed fifth at the International Senior Competition. I lost to the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Mariel Zagunis, 15-12. It was a strong finish out of about 90 competitors, but I felt overall my performance could have been much better. 

After London, we made our way to France where the next competition will take place.  This tournament will have many more competitors than the competition in London, so I must prepare as best as I can. The national Chinese and Japanese teams are here, so lack of training partners is no problem. Training overseas comes with so many decisions that can strongly effect performance for the competition. Last year, I didn't fence as well as I wanted to at this tournament because I had too much going through my head.

This year, I have to remember the most important thing is to have fun. As cliche as that sounds, I sometimes forget to have fun, which can leave me anxious. I have to appreciate the other opportunities that fencing has afforded me, like the chance to travel and be exposed to different cultures.

The only downside is that I have to study while I'm here, but I'm trying to do my best with it and not fall behind, especially because I have an exam the day after I fly back home. Wish me luck!

En Garde with Dagmara (Oct. 11, 2009)

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The hardest thing about the World Championships is when you don't compete as well as you wanted to individually and you have to get yourself together and ready to compete for the team event. But that is exactly what I had to do this year.

The U.S. women's sabre team won our first event against Tunisia, which put us in the top eight and matched up with France to make the top four. I knew this match was going to be difficult especially because our team is very young. Even though I was a member of the Olympic team, I never fenced a complete match on that stage and had to step up in a different way for this year's World Championships. Mariel Zagunis, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, helped our team to a 5-1 lead against France. But we were unable to hold onto that early lead and lost to France 45-35. In the individual competition the only person who is really upset when you lose is you. In the team event you have to think about your teammates, the people that are there with you fighting for the gold. We were all really disappointed with the result.

But we had to quickly recover to prepare for our next match against Germany. We rounded ourselves up and talked about what mistakes we made and how we need to stay positive because our fight is not over. We rebounded to beat Germany and then had to face Italy in the fifth-place match, which Mariel Zagunis could not compete in due to injury.  In this match, three newbies represented the United States and it was a lot of pressure for all of us. We felt at this point that winning and losing wasn't as important as gaining experience against teams that we will face repeatedly in the future. Although we lost to Italy, I think the overall experience at Worlds helped us each gain important experience and I feel that we have very strong developing fencers and we will only improve as a team going forward.

- D. Wozniak

 

En Garde with Dagmara (Oct. 3, 2009)

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It's two days before individuals so the United States women's team along with some men's saber team fencers decided to take a cruise out on the waters of Turkey!  We rented a boat for about two hours and sailed near the coast of the country.  After about an hour, we stopped at a beautiful waterfall where the driver stalled the engine and gestured for us to jump in the water.  We didn't need to understand Turkish to realize what he wanted us to do!  In about ten seconds everyone was in their bathing suits and skipping towards the back of the boat to jump into the refreshing blue waters.  It was an amazing experience!  Moments like these are what I think about when people ask me why I chose fencing of all sports. 

 

Today was the second day of the individual competition and I could feel the pressure.  It all comes down to this one day.  Unfortunately, I didn't fence well on the first day, so for my first direct elimination bout, I had to face my teammate from the USA.  It was a difficult bout and in the end I lost by one point. I was extremely frustrated with myself, but after cooling down, I realized that it was not the last competition in my life... there will be many more.  All I can do is come home and work even harder than I have before.

- D. Wozniak

 

En Garde with Dagmara (Sept. 23, 2009)

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Just four more days and I'm off to the Senior World Championships in Turkey!  Hopefully I'll have only good news to blog about from overseas. On the other hand, school has been so crazy that I haven't even had time to really think about whether I'm nervous or not.  I haven't been training as hard as I wanted to because of class and extra help but I feel I have enough experience under my belt to make a strong finish in the competition.  I'm hoping to see more of Turkey during my days off this year than I did last time I was there.  Even though it's going to be an exciting time, I can't feel calm about how much school I'm going to miss.  Labs are probably the most difficult thing to miss since you can't make them up. 
 
Overall, I'm really looking forward to the trip and can't wait to get to Turkey. Wish me luck! 

 

- D. Wozniak

 


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