With the favorites faltering, Bob Cottingham and Jennifer Yu claimed gold medals in the Division I men's sabre and women's foil finals Sunday at the United States Fencing Association National Championships.
Sunday's competition was the second day of the nine-day USFA national tournament, which runs through June 17 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The two Sunday finals were the first Division I finals completed so far in the U.S. championships.Currently ranked second nationally in the men's sabre, Cottingham defeated Gerry Rodriguez 5-3, 5-3 in the finals. An NCAA champion two years ago, the 24-year-old Cottingham, of Orange, N.J., was the youngest member of the 1988 U.S.
Olympic Fencing Team.
Top-ranked Peter Westbrook of New York City, a four-time Olympian who was seeking an unprecedented 13th national title, finished sixth in Sunday's finals. A bronze medalist at the 1984 Olympics, Westbrook won his first USFA national title in sabre competition in 1974, racking up 11 more titles in the subsequent 15 years.
The 25-year-old Yu, of East Palo Alto, Calif., made her way past a host of former national champions - including Caitlin Bilodeaux, Jana Angelakis and Molly Sullivan - en route to her gold medal in the foil.
In an earlier round Sunday, Yu lost to the top-ranked Bilodeaux, the defending champion who has three such titles ('86, '87 and '89), a 1987 Pan American Games gold medal and an 11th-place finish at the 1988 Olympics to her credit. But Yu later turned the tables in the quarterfinals with a 5-3, 1-5, 5-3 victory over Bilodeaux.
After downing the three-time champion ('79, 81-21) and sixth-ranked Angelakis in the semis, Yu defeated the third-ranked Sullivan - a former NCAA champion and 1988 Olympic Team member who won the 1985 national foil title - by a pair of 5-3 scores.
Competition continues Monday with finals in the women's team foil, 4:30 p.m.; men's team sabre, 6 p.m.; and Division II men's epee, time to be announced. Tuesday's finals feature the under-19 men's epee at 5:30 p.m.
The next Division I final - the men's foil - is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.