Jenna Shoman (Manhattan Fencing Center), right, and Nisha Hild (Boston Fencing Club) square off in the Junior Women's Saber final. Photo by Serge Timacheff
FORT WORTH, Texas — It’s hard to ignore that “(1)” next to your name.
But on Monday at the November North American Cup, Jenna Shoman (Manhattan Fencing Center) did her best to block out the fact that she was tied for the best record coming out of the pool round — giving her, at least in theory, an easier path to the medal rounds.
But rather than focus on the six five-touch bouts she had already won, Shoman just looked at the one 15-touch bout in front of her.
“I actually didn't look at my seeding,” she says. “I kind of knew that I would be on the top because of how I did in pools, but it doesn't really put that much pressure on me because I take every bout at a time. I take every opponent with the same mentality, and I don't underestimate or like overestimate anybody.”
That strategy worked, bringing Shoman a Junior Women’s Saber gold medal. On her six-bout journey to the top of the medal stand, Shoman allowed double-digit touches to only one opponent.
“I kept my composure today,” she says. “And I had a lot of fun.”
The same can be said for Y14 Men’s Saber gold medalist Jonathan Ng (Durkan Fencing Academy). After scoring the decisive touch in his gold medal bout, Ng pumped his fist and let out a series of screams.
Ng learned at this NAC that a change of pace can make all the difference.
“I think what was working for me was just going slower,” he says. “When I was going fast, I seemed to fall short. So going slower worked.”
He also made sure not to panic when trailing by two or three touches. In all weapons, but especially saber, you’re never out of it until the 15th touch is scored.
“I just try to think on the next touch,” he says, “and not think that I'm losing — just how am I going to get up?”
Tierna Oxenreider (Columbia University / New York Athletic Club) had a strong pools performance as well — tied for second best in a field of 245 under-20 women’s epee fencers.
Oxenreider, 19, says she’s learned to deal with that pressure are she’s gotten older.
“When I was younger, I used to have that stress and anxiety if I was seeded really high,” she says. “But I think kind of as I've gotten older, that has gone away a little bit. I've been able to kind of push that to the side and just focus on which bout I’m fencing next.”
Oxenreider says Monday’s win gives her some momentum she hopes to carry into her collegiate season and beyond.
“Yeah, it feels incredible,” she says. “It's been a long time since I won a NAC. So it kind of shows all my hard work paying off. And it's so early in the season that it's great to start off with a good result. I'm just really excited and happy.”
The same goes for the tournament’s final winner — Cadet Men’s Epee gold medalist Nathaniel Wimmer (Elite Fencing Academy - VA / Elite Fencing Academy - GA).
Wimmer says that in several of Monday’s bouts, he found himself trailing by a few touches. But he didn’t falter — relying instead on a strategy he’s found works well.
“When I walk back to my side of the strip, I like to exaggerate my walk — as in I take longer,” he says. “And once I'm at the en garde line, I like to do some actions like I polish off my bell guard, I straighten my body cord. And those really help to bring me back to the present.”
And he’s got strategies for the tournament day, too, including a proven way to stay fueled up for a 10-hour stretch of fencing.
“I drank a lot of water,” he says. “And after pools, I ate two hotdogs.”
Gold: Tierna Oxenreider (Columbia University / New York Athletic Club)
Silver: Sarah Gu (Medeo Fencing Club)
Bronze: Sharika Gajjala (Medeo Fencing Club)
Bronze: Yasmine Khamis (Alliance Fencing Academy)
5th: Anya Mehrotra (Alliance Fencing Academy)
6th: Anna Damratoski (Northwestern University / Medeo Fencing Club)
7th: Victoria Doroshkevich (Fencing Center Of Chicago)
8th: Liora Profis (New York Fencing Academy)
Gold: Jenna Shoman (Manhattan Fencing Center)
Silver: Nisha Hild (Boston Fencing Club)
Bronze: Megumi Oishi (Northwestern University)
Bronze: Irene Jung (Premier Fencing Academy)
5th: Katherine Andres (University of Pennsylvania / Southern California Fencing Academy - SOCALFA)
6th: Madeline Engelmann-Sanz (Bergen Fencing Club)
7th: Veronica Mika (Advance Fencing And Fitness Academy)
8th: Dagny Johnson (Rochester Fencing Club)
Gold: Nathaniel Wimmer (Elite Fencing Academy - VA / Elite Fencing Academy - GA)
Silver: Haoran Zheng (LA International Fencing)
Bronze: Gabriel Carrier (Wasatch Fencing / Schoolhouse Fencing)
Bronze: Daniel Chirashnya (Academy Of Fencing Masters - AFM)
5th: Dylan Kats (New York Fencing Academy)
6th: Hongrui Yue (Canada)
7th: Stewart Lee (Alliance Fencing Academy)
8th: Elijah Imrek (Alliance Fencing Academy)
Gold: Jonathan Ng (Durkan Fencing Academy)
Silver: Alex Huang (Lilov Fencing Academy)
Bronze: Evan Kang (Dynamo Fencing Center Inc.)
Bronze: Elijah Kim (Globus Fencing Academy)
5th: Vince Pastore Liu (Spartak / Las Vegas Fencing Academy)
6th: Preston So (Nellya Fencers / North Atlanta High School Fencing Team)
7th: Lucas Holz (Premier Fencing Academy)
8th: Henry Chan (Cardinal Fencing Club)
Gold: Golden State Fencing Academy (Fira Hovaghimian, Chin-Yi Kong, Sandra Luo, Charlotte Peng)
Silver: FCC (Taisiia Doroshkevich, Alexis Kostelny, Mariam Namgalauri, Leah Park)
Bronze: NWFC (Siddhi Nirgude, Gabby Taylor, Anna Quinn, Steliana Strugar)
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