Local athletes return from Maccabiah laden with gold

Perhaps the International Olympic Committee chose to drop softball and baseball as medal sports because Americans dominate the diamonds.

This year’s U.S. teams at the 17th annual Maccabiah Games lived up to the stereotype all too well.

At the worldwide athletic competition, held from July 11 to 21 in Israel, the U.S. men’s softball squad powered its way through the tournament, winning 12 consecutive contests by a combined score of 139-25 and capturing the gold medal.

The squad, featuring Glen Davis of San Francisco and Daniel Winninck of Walnut Creek, showed the host Israelis no hospitality in a 17-0 drubbing, and also notched a 16-0 gutting of Panama, and a 25-1 vivisection of the Venezuelans. The team closed with two relatively close victories over Canada in the medal round, 7-5 and 9-2.

The women’s softball team also won all its games and a gold medal as well (but didn’t feature any local athletes).

The junior division baseball squad couldn’t boast an undefeated record — Canada rapped out a 9-3 victory — but it won when it counted, bringing home a gold medal.

The team played to a fine 5-1 record in a limited field, topping Israel or Canada in all but one contest.

The baseball squad also featured a handful of locals, including David Chezar of Palo Alto, Abraham Fine of San Francisco, David Klein of Menlo Park, Jeremy Simon of Oakland and Blair Tannenbaum of Sacramento.

The women’s junior basketball squad also rolled out lopsided victories and a gold, knocking off Israel, 67-27, Australia, 81-40 and 84-28, and Canada, 60-52 and 67-48, en route to an undefeated run.

Locals Emily Feldman of San Ramon, Ariel Winawer of Menlo Park and Sarah Zwerin of Novato brought home medals.

The men’s rugby side, featuring seasoned local veterans Joel Drescher of San Francisco and Adam Mayer of San Jose, executed a sterling run — pun intended.

The team trounced Australia, 31-10, and Canada, 40-25, prior to drubbing the host Israelis, 34-18. The Americans went on to rip Great Britain, 23-3, setting up a finale against powerhouse South Africa. The quest for gold struck a reef against the Africans, however, and the United States settled for silver after finding itself on the wrong end of a 29-16 tally.

The men’s soccer squad also battled its way into the finale, only to fall just short. The team, featuring Alexander Tablin-Wolf of Davis, blasted past the Netherlands, 2-0, and put the boot on Canada, 5-0. The United States knocked off Argentina, 4-1, before eluding South Africa and Mexico in tight, high-scoring contests, 3-2 and 5-4. The run ended in the finale, though, as the Israelis won by a 2-0 score.

In what one could call a recurring theme, the men’s water polo squad also finished runner-up.

Featuring a heavy contingent of locals — Moshe Dictor of Fremont and two sets of brothers, Brian and Ron Bacharach of Alamo, and Aaron and Kevin Platschon of Menlo Park — the team swam all the way to the finale before running into the host Israelis and a 5-4 loss.

In individual sports, Jared Campbell of Walnut Creek took silver in the 200-meter breaststroke and Dashiell Rothberg of Walnut Creek finished third in the 100-meter backstroke.

Adee Schoffman of Woodland Hills finished second in the all-around gymnastics competition (on her birthday), Heather Shelby of Monterey took a bronze in tennis and San Francisco’s Michael Pearce was a member of the silver medal-winning men’s fencing squad.

In the Master’s division for older athletes, the U.S. men’s basketball squad, featuring David Kohn of Burlingame, finished second, falling to Israel in the finale, 73-69.

The team of Gary Gordon, Robert Grossman and Gary Shemano took a bronze in the golf competition; Shemano hails form San Francisco and Grossman from Greenbrae.

Andrew Fremder of Piedmont struck gold in the over-35 squash division, while Portola Valley’s Leslie Airola-Murveit (who traveled to Israel with her daughter and fellow competitor, tennis player Shelley Murveit) was a double gold-winner in over-45 singles and mixed doubles. Bob Sockolov of San Francisco won his third career Maccabiah medal, taking home a gold in over-75 doubles tennis.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.