Daniel Zhang (Star Fencing Academy) flies for the touch. Photo by Serge Timacheff
FORT WORTH, Texas — Six pool bouts followed by eight direct-elimination bouts. Eight and a half hours of fencing with only minimal breaks.
It’s no wonder that Daniel Zhang (Star Fencing Academy) started cramping a bit by the time he climbed onto the finals strip to fence for gold.
Midway through the bout, the 2023 Junior World Team member had such bad leg cramps that he had to call for medical attention.
“It was pretty bad,” he says. “But big thanks to the medical staff, because they helped a lot and made me feel a lot better when I was fencing so I could get the gold medal.”
The sports med providers at USA Fencing tournaments are, without question, the best in the business. They keep hundreds of fencers on their feet throughout the four-day tournament. But once their job was done, Zhang had to finish his.
“I'm proud that I could fight through my injuries,” he says. “My conditioning hasn't been the best, so I ended up cramping a lot today. But I'm happy that I could fight through them and keep going.”
In the Junior Men’s Foil competition — which featured a whopping 357 fencers —Zhang faced Ethan Um (Princeton University) in the final. The two seemed on a collision course from the start of the day. They were the tournament’s top two seeds, and they finished pools with the two best records: each 6-0 with +26 indicators. Sure enough, they were the last two standing at the end of the day.
While Zhang knows Um’s fencing well, he’d only ever fenced him once.
“He's a great competitor,” Zhang says. “I'm glad I was able to compete with him in a really hard bout. It was very fun fencing.”
Charmaine Andres (Southern California Fencing Academy - SOCALFA) was having fun, too, on the way to her first NAC gold.
The Cadet Women’s Saber champion was the tournament’s top seed, but she tried not to let the pressure of those expectations overwhelm her.
“There's definitely a ton of pressure on me,” she says. “Especially as first seed. I just kept thinking to myself: ‘One bout at a time. Keep fencing the next touch.’”
Nicole Xuan (Canada’s Mountain Fencing Club) felt a different kind of pressure. She’s been wanting to win.
“It means a lot,” she says. “And I feel like I really needed it. Because recently, I haven't been fencing the best that I think I can do. So I think it's really special, and I'm really proud of myself.”
Xuan also knows that her win is something of a win for her country, too. Non-championship events at USA Fencing tournaments are open to fencers from any country. And Canada always has a strong showing — especially in today’s all-Canadian Cadet Women’s Epee final.
“I’m really proud of all the Canadian girls for coming out today and fencing their best,” she says. “And also shoutout to Julia Yin for fencing the finals with me. I just think it's really special for us to be sharing the podium today at a NAC.”
Speaking of special, no recap would be complete without a mention of Taisiia Doroshkevich (Fencing Center Of Chicago), who got her first NAC gold. While winning is always a rush, Doroshkevich just loves being out there and fencing.
"I love the competitions — all the adrenaline,” she says. “Even if I’m losing, it's a new experience every single time, and I just love it.”
Gold: Daniel Zhang (Star Fencing Academy)
Silver: Ethan Um (Princeton University NCAA)
Bronze: Nickolas Rusadze (Tim Morehouse Fencing Club - Port Chester)
Bronze: Allen Chen (Bluegrass Fencers' Club)
5th: Jeidus Deseranno (Renaissance Fencing Club)
6th: Ben Rose (Apex Fencing Academy / AIC Fencing Club)
6th: Elijah Onik (Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy)
8th: Roy Graham (Jovanovic Fencing / Cambridge Fencing Center)
Gold: Nicole Xuan (Canada)
Silver: Julia Yin (Canada)
Bronze: Jolie Korfonta (Elite Fencing Academy - VA)
Bronze: Regina Lee (Swords Fencing Studio)
5th: Alexandra Raknovski (New York Fencing Academy)
6th: Zoe Kim (Swords Fencing Studio)
7th: Phoebe Chisholm (Olympia Fencing Center)
8th: Sierra Springer (Olympia Fencing Center)
Gold: Charmaine Andres (Southern California Fencing Academy - SOCALFA)
Silver: Trisha Nath (Bergen Fencing Club / Stamford Fencing Center, LLC)
Bronze: Olivia Dai (Bergen Fencing Club)
Bronze: Delilah Huai (Premier Fencing Academy)
5th: Carina Festa (Bergen Fencing Club)
6th: Aria Bevacqua (Manhattan Fencing Center)
7th: Irene Jung (Premier Fencing Academy)
8th: Grace Ker (Cardinal Fencing Club)
Gold: Taisiia Doroshkevich (Fencing Center Of Chicago)
Silver: Ella Calise (Tim Morehouse Fencing Club - Port Chester)
Bronze: Yixi Wang (Star Fencing Academy)
Bronze: Joanna Wang (Mid-Island Fencing Academy / V Fencing Club)
5th: Joy Liu (Golubitsky Fencing Center)
6th: Zizhuo Dai (Tim Morehouse Fencing Club - Port Chester)
7th: Sophia Lai (Fencing Institute Of Texas / Austin Fencers Club)
8th: Emma Yang (Star Fencing Academy)
Gold: Alliance Red (Alexander Fray, Elijah Imrek, Philip Kang, Simon Lioznyansky)
Silver: OK Team (Benjamin Fleckenstein, Owen Jin, Ayush Shah, Ajit Sivakumar)
Bronze: Windy City Fencing (Ethan Dennis, Luca McKeever, Peter Nikolov, Noah Silvers)
Gold: Naz Reid (Taylor Chon, Maximilian Denner, William Morrill, Nazir Primus)
Silver: Notre Dame (Grant Dodrill, Lysander Denner, Konrad Czyzewski)
Bronze: Lilov Fencing Team (Gabriel Babayev, Alex Huang, Ethan Huang, Neil Lilov)
Taisiia Doroshkevich (Fencing Center Of Chicago) reacts to her NAC win. Photo by Serge Timacheff
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