Natanzon Wins Gold at January North American Cup

Curtis McDowald and Cooper Schumacher
Jan. 9, 2017

2017 January North American Cup Results
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QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's sent nine fencers to compete in the January North American Cup held in Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend, with sophomore Ben Natanzon leading the Red Storm taking home gold in Divison I men's saber and bronze in junior saber. Curtis McDowald was also outstanding on the strip to earn a silver medal in Division I men's epee.

After a perfect record in pool play, Natanzon faced his St. John's teammate Deniz Berkay, who finished 59th, in the table of 64 and earned a victory to advance to the round of 32. The Manalapan, N.J., native then registered triumphs over two Canadian opponents Cameron MacKay and Grant Williams to reach the quarterfinals.

Facing the top seed in the draw, Geoffrey Loss of Columbia, Natanzon recorded a 15-11 victory and then went on to knock off Evan Prochniak, 15-10, to advance to the finals. Taking on another Columbia student-athlete in Calvin Liang, Natanzon rolled to a 15-11 victory to take his first-ever Division I men's silver gold at a NAC competition and finished with a perfect 13-0 record.

Natanzon was the top seed entering the junior men's saber draw and cruised in pool play to a 6-0 record, outscoring his opponents by 22 touches. The top ranked American in junior men's saber won five-straight bouts to advance to the semifinals, before falling in a tightly contested 15-14 bout to Erwin Cai of Harvard to finish with bronze.

Entering the competition as the 30th seed, McDowald picked up three victories during pool play to advance to the table of 64. From there, the Jamaica, N.Y., native stepped up his play to defeat Ivan Zagoruiko, 15-13, and the No. 6 seed Simon Jones, 15-11, to move into the round of 16.

Facing more difficult competition as the tournament went on, McDowald continued to impress on the strip with a 15-12 triumph over Darius Zacharkis, and then knocked off Gabriel Canaux, 15-13, to advance to the semifinals of Divison I men's epee for the second-straight year at the January NAC.

The junior then dominated Marc-Antoine Blais-Belanger to a 15-8 victory to move ahead to his first-ever finals at the January NAC. Taking on James Kaull in the finals, McDowald came up just short on the strip, falling 15-14 to earn silver.

Cooper Schumacher also impressed on the strip at the January NAC after notching four victories in pool play to move to the table of 64. With a victory over Ariel Simmons, the Pompton Lakes, N.J., native took on Red Storm alum Benjamin Bratton, and claimed a 15-12 victory. Schumacher then defeated Justin Yoo, before the eventual champion James Kaull knocked off Schumacher in the quarterfinals to finish in eighth place, the highest of his career at an NAC competition.

A junior from Manassas, Va., Sean White was solid on the strip with a 40th place finish in Division I men's epee and Alex Cotter came in 106th to round out the Johnnies performances in men's epee.

Hunter Williams-Burrows finished in 110th and 120th in Division I and junior men's foil, respectively, as the lone Red Storm representative in the draw. A newcomer from Brooklyn, N.Y., Shomari Moore placed 112th in junior men's epee.

On the women's side, Ally Ryf was the only female representing St. John's at the January NAC and performed terrific in pool play, with a 5-1 record while outscoring her foes 27-18. Ryf was defeated by Ariane Leonard in a very close 15-14 bout in the table of 64 to finish in 33rd place.

Three Red Storm alums competed at the Janaury NAC with Bratton finishing in 19th and Adam Rodney coming in 23rd in Division I men's epee. Isis Washington, who won gold at the 2015 NCAA Fencing Championship, placed 41st in Division I women's epee.


The January North American Cup was the fourth and final NAC in which the Johnnies will send fencers this season.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, St. John's will host five elite programs (Columbia, Harvard, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State) during the St. John's Invitational Cup in Taffner Field House. The invitational will begin at 10 a.m. and is free for all guests to attend.

The following day, the Red Storm will compete in the NYU Invitational, which is hosted by Columbia, for its penultimate meet of the year before the NCAA Championships.

Below is a summary of results from the January North American Cup:

Men's Saber
Ben Natanzon: 1st (Division I), 3rd (Jr.)
Deniz Berkay: 59th (Division I)

Men's Epee
Curtis McDowald: 2nd (Division I)
Cooper Schumacher: 8th (Division I)
Sean White: 40th (Division I)
Alex Cotter: 106th (Division I)
Shomari Moore: 112th (Jr.)

Men's Foil
Hunter Williams-Burrows: 110th (Division I), 120th (Jr.)

Women's Epee
Ally Ryf: 33rd (Division I)




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