Fencers qualify for Junior Olympics

After a large number of fencers qualified for Junior Olympics, the top tournament in the nation for fencers 20 and under, the fencing team is preparing to start the core of its season. While foil tournaments have already begun, the remaining two weapons, foil and epee, start their season Jan. 6.

“Including all the different weapons, I think we have the potential to be strong, but we don’t practice enough in school to reach that potential,” Sabre Co-captain Daniel Yoo ’07 said.

The team is led by its six co-captains. Carter Chang ’08 and Kate Mangels ’07 captain the epée team, Yoo and Rupert Ditsworth ’07 lead the sabre, while Nick Kazimiroff ’07 and Kirin Bhatia ’08 lead the foil team.

While the team has had one tournament for sabre, the main event for the team has been the qualifying rounds for the Junior Olympics in Denver Feb. 16-19, which 12 students qualified for, although not all are involved with the team.

“We’ve been qualifying fencers for 25 years for their capabilities as individuals,” Head Coach Ted Katzoff said. “A lot of them fence outside of school.”

Most of the fencers qualified through divisional qualifying tournaments, where they had to place in the top 25 percent to go through one of the two possible routes to move on to the Junior Olympics.

The second path, an auto-qualification through national tournaments, requires a top 32 national finish, although a few students reached the tournament in this manner. Harvard-Westlake qualifiers were fairly evenly balanced between the three weapons, as three epee and three foil fencers qualified, along with a strong showing of six sabre fencers.

The foil individual season will wrap up this Saturday, and the fencers’ individual standings will be made by a combination of the two tournament scores. To win the league title, scoring is based on six tournaments, one for each weapon. The team has won the title five times, including two years where they shared the title.

Most of the fencers, in addition to practicing in school, practice by themselves at clubs individually as much as three or four times per week.

The team only practices three days a week, but the club and team practices complement each other, Katzoff said, so the club fencers are always well prepared.

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