February 19, 2008

Four Cornell Fencers Compete at Junior Olympics

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With the summer Olympics looming in Beijing, four members of the fencing squad competed in their own Olympics — the Junior Olympics in Charlotte, N.C.
The Junior Olympics represented not only a chance for the four fencers to earn points towards the World Championships, but also an opportunity to compete in front of Olympic scouts. The winner of the tournament would most likely be given a spot to compete in Beijing this summer.
[img_assist|nid=27966|title=Masked Avenger|desc=The Red had two top-100 finishers at the Junior Olympics in Charlotte.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Although none of the Red competitors ran the table to the title, sophomore Katherine Thompson collected a 16th-place finish in epee. Classmate Sallie Dietrich, fencing epee as well, placed 48th. Rounding out the epee trio, freshman Christine Wilkinson tied for 124th. Freshman Katie Halpin, the Red’s lone representation at sabre, placed 117th.
“It’s definitely one of the best tournaments out there,” Thompson said. “There’s so many people from all over the country, the best fencers. One girl was there who will probably be our representative to the Olympics, and [there are] some who have only fenced for a few months. So it’s a range.”
Nearly 2,000 fencers under the age of 20 flocked to Charlotte for the competition. The fencers were split into groups of seven. Each fencer then fenced a match to five against each other person in their group. The competitors were then reseeded in a single-elimination tournament.
Thompson enjoyed the most success for Cornell and was happy with her performance.
“It’s my last year,” she said. “Next year I’ll be too old, so [my performance] was a great way to age out of it.”
However, despite “definitely” meeting her expectations, Thompson hit a wall against some tough competition.
“I ended up having to fence one of the girls from Columbia, one of the best fencers in the Ivy League.”
It was also Dietrich’s last time at the Junior Olympics, and she was able to fence her way to one of her best career finishes. For the relative newbies Halpin and Wilkinson, it was an opportunity to get some experience for the rest of their college careers.
“Whenever you fence new people, it helps to give you experience,” Thompson said. “… You also learn what you’re not so good at, if they’re having an easy time [playing] you.”