Two Portland-area fencers have the U.S. women's saber team ready to take on the world at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Rebecca Ward and Mariel Zagunis will lead the U.S. team, which secured a berth in the Olympics by winning a Grand Prix two weeks ago at Lamezia-Terme, Italy, and then scored its third consecutive Grand Prix title last week in Algeria, even with Ward sitting out the competition.

Sada Jacobson of Dunwoody, Ga., won the Algeria event, and Zagunis placed fifth.

The U.S. Olympic team is set. Jacobson, Zagunis and Ward will compete both as individuals and as a team at Beijing; Dagmara Wozniak of Avenal, N.J., will join them for the team competition.

Ward, Jacobson and Zagunis, the 2004 gold medalist, are ranked 2-3-4 in the world behind China's Tan Xue.

France, the U.S. and Russia have been running 1-2-3 among women's saber teams this year, followed by Ukraine, China and Korea.

Ward, Jacobson, Zagunis and Wozniak also will fence for the U.S. in the Division I national championships at the Oregon Convention Center from April 25 to April 28.

• Boxer Rafael Ortiz, 30, of Lebanon died in Portland last Wednesday, 11 days after his last bout.

Ortiz lost a sixth-round TKO to Mike Lucero of Portland in a Washington state light welterweight title match at Ferndale, Wash. He had a fever and flulike symptoms after the fight and reportedly made two trips to an urgent care clinic in Lebanon before being transferred to a Corvallis hospital and then to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he died.

Ortiz, who graduated from Lebanon High in 1996, was a popular ring veteran with a 14-14-2 record that included 13 knockouts. He fought up and down the West Coast and as far away as Chicago and Atlantic City, N.J.

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