Joseph Isaac Being Presented with his Gold Medal
RENO, Nev. - Rising sophomore Joseph Isaac announced his presence on the national fencing scene over the July 4th weekend, winning the U19 epee division at the North American Cup event, outlasting 234 other competitors for his first national-level gold medal.
Isaac's road to the top of the podium was an arduous one as the Morris Plains, N.J. native needed to compete for nearly nine hours during the event to win the gold. In addition to the early-round pool bouts, Isaac then needed to navigate 10 bouts of direct elimination and repechage to earn his first-ever North American Cup gold.
In the final, Isaac defeated Joseph Rafidi who fences collegiately at M.I.T. in overtime, 8-7. The win was one filled with revenge for Isaac as Rafidi had been the only fencer to defeat Isaac during the competition - a match also decided in overtime by a score of 14-13 in the table of 24.
It turned out to be a blessing for Isaac that he suffered his lone loss that early in the competition as he was able to move to the repechage and work
his way back - something he wasn't quite sure of immediately following the loss.
"I thought I was out when I lost, so I suited down and everything," he told USFencing.org after the competition. "Once I found out I still got to fence in the repechage, it was just fun to be back in it again."
In order to reach the medal round from the repechage, Isaac would need to be flawless from that match on - and he was.
He won his next three bouts, 15-11, 15-12, and 15-11 to earn his spot in the quarterfinals. His Round of Eight bout was won in convincing fashion, 15-6 over Michael DeVito from Ridgefield, Conn., to set up a semifinal bout with Ligonier, Pa. native Dale Purdy.
The semifinal bout was close than Isaac's previous one, but he emerged victorious by a 15-11 score to earn his first trip to a North American Cup final.
Matched up once again with Rafidi - a fencer Isaac had also seen during the collegiate season at M.I.T.'s Eric Sollee Invitational - the two went to overtime and priority for the third time in three meetings. Isaac won the coin toss for priority and had the advantage of needing to just play defense to gain the win, but instead chose to go on the offensive to surprise his opponent.
"My coach said that he would be expecting me to be very defensive since I had been pretty defensive for a lot of that bout," Isaac said. "I knew one of the solid touches I got during the bout was when I went low for his foot and then he'd start coming forward and I'd hit him on the arm, so that was my goal."
The strategy paid off and after the nearly nine hours of fencing, Isaac had made his mark.