The US Men's Epee Team
The US Men's Epee Team took Silver at the World Championships. Photo S.Timacheff/

It took a late rally by France to deny the US squad the world championship today.

Fencing at the Grand Palais in Paris, the US led France going into the 8th bout of the match. The French team rallied, however, and earned a 45-36 win to claim the world championship.  The silver medal finish is the first ever medal earned by a US men’s epee team in a world championship event.

In the bronze medal bout, Hungary defeated Russia 36-34.

In the press release from USA Fencing, the match was described in more detail:

“The US team of Ben Bratton (New York, N.Y.) , Seth Kelsey (Brush Prairie, Wash.), Cody Mattern (Tigard, Ore.) and Ben Ungar (Bronx, N.Y.), seeded 12th in the table of 32, started off the day by defeating the Czech team 45-34.

They followed with a resounding upset of 5th-seed China, 40-39. Ben Bratton pulled the team to a four-touch lead early in the going with a 5-0 defeat of Guojie Li. Mattern kept the score to 0-0 in the next encounter against Sen Wang and then Bratton stepped up with a 7-1 beating of Lianchi Yin. The two teams wrestled for the lead for the remainder of the match, and in the end, Kelsey held on for the 40-39 win to put the team into the top eight.

In the quarterfinals, the US men put another notch in their belt with a 39-35 upset of fourth-seeded Korea. In the semis, the team pulled off their most incredible upset, defeating the top seeded team in the world, Hungary45-38. In that match, all three US men battled hard and maintained a lead that grew and shrank throughout the match. By the time closer Kelsey took the strip in the final encounter against the Hungarian’s substitute anchor, Andras Redli, the score was 38-45 for the Americans. Kelsey held off the charging Redli 11-11 to notch the 45-38 victory.

The atmosphere in the Grand Palais was electric as the home team took the stage for the gold medal match against the Americans. The US team faced huge odds against the heavily-favored French, two of whom earned medals in the individual event several days earlier (Gauthier Grumier won the silver and Jean-Michel Lucenay bronze).

Photo S.Timacheff / FencingPhotos.comGrumier opened with a one-touch lead (4-3) against Cody Mattern, but Kelsey brought the score back to 3-2 in the next encounter. The Americans faced incredible pressure. With every touch scored by the French the crowd let loose with a deafening roar.

Through the next three encounters, all three US men scored victories against their French counterparts, dragging the score to 25-17 in their favor. In the sixth and seventh encounters, the French team clawed the score back to 29-30 as the US men held up under the incredible din in the Palais.

Ulrich Robeiri of France next staged a 5-1 comeback against Mattern, bringing the score to 34-31. Grumier, the team’s closer, stepped up against Kelsey for the final encounter and was able to pull off the defeat 45-36.”

Reference: USA Fencing