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A Guide to Qualifying for the 2024 USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge (Summer Nationals)

03/22/2023, 8:30am CDT
By Bryan Wendell

This prestigious event brings together top talent from coast to coast to compete for national titles and glory. So how does a fencer secure their spot at this season-ending tournament? Here’s what you need to know.

This article has been updated for the 2024 Summer Nationals.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The excitement is heating up as fencers across the nation prepare for the 2024 USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge, commonly known as Summer Nationals. 

Taking place from June 29 to July 8 in Columbus, Ohio, this prestigious event brings together top talent from coast to coast to compete for national titles and glory. 

Summer Nationals truly is a sight to be seen. With more than 4,500 fencers from nearly every state expected to travel to Columbus, Summer Nationals is both the largest fencing tournament hosted by USA Fencing and one of the largest fencing tournaments held anywhere in the world.

So how does a fencer punch their ticket for this iconic season-ending tournament? Here’s what you need to know.

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Qualifying for the July Challenge

The July Challenge is a non-championship tournament open to fencers competing in the Division I, Junior and Cadet categories. Think of it as a more competitive North American Cup, because there are additional entry qualifications beyond the age eligibility requirements for a “typical NAC.”

That said, the July Challenge events are not championship events, because the Cadet and Junior championships are held at Junior Olympics in February, and the Division I championships are held in April in conjunction with the April North American Cup. 

Because the July Challenge is not a championship event, it’s open to both national and international competitors. 

There are several ways to qualify: national points, regional points or NCAA Championships participation, depending on which category you are hoping to compete in. To complete the national points path, fencers can earn points from one or more of the following events (please note that if an athlete has aged out of a category in which points were earned at any of the below events, those points can no longer be used for purposes of qualification):

  • 2023 June SJCC
  • 2023 July Challenge 
  • 2023 October NAC
  • 2023 November NAC
  • 2023 December SJCC + Division I NAC
  • 2024 January NAC
  • 2024 Junior Olympics
  • 2024 March NAC 
  • 2024 Division I Championships/April NAC

For the regional qualification path for Juniors and Cadets, USA Fencing will take the top two regional results from RJCC competitions to calculate whether a Junior or Cadet fencer has reached 65 points. For Division I qualification, USA Fencing will take the 16 fencers on the regional Div 1A points list and the top four on the Div II list from the current 23-24 season. This determination will be made after the regular fee deadline, which is May 10.

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Qualifying for the National Championships

The National Championships portion of Summer Nationals serves as the championship competition for the following categories:

  • Vet Age

  • Y10, Y12 and Y14

  • Division I-A, Division II and Division III

Only U.S citizens or those with permanent residency are eligible to compete in these U.S. championship events. 

To qualify for Y10/Y12/Y14, fencers must have national points earned from one of the following events:

  • 2023 National Championships (2023)

  • March 2024 NAC

  • Any SYC event in the 23-24 season

Alternatively, fencers can qualify by earning the required number of regional points from their best three events. 

For Division II and Division III, fencers must meet both the requirements in the chart and also the classification deadline: C or lower for Division 2, and D or lower for Division 3. Ratings will be determined at the time of registration for the event. If a higher rating is earned after the fencer has registered, they are still eligible to compete even if their rating is higher than the max rating for the event.

Petitioning for Entry

Fencers who are unable to qualify for an event at Summer Nationals and did not compete in their Divisional Qualifiers can submit a petition for entry. The petition deadline is May 17 and requires an additional $100 nonrefundable fee. If a fencer’s petition is denied their event fee will be returned to them in full. The petition form can be found on the Summer Nationals Athlete Information page at this link.

Closing Thoughts

Qualifying for the 2024 USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge is a significant accomplishment for any fencer. By understanding the qualification process and working diligently to meet the requirements, you can secure your place in one of the most prestigious events in the fencing world. Good luck to all those striving to compete in Columbus this summer!

Tag(s): Updates  2024 Summer Nationals