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USA Fencing Honors All-Academic Team and Scholarship Winners in St. Louis

07/06/2018, 9:00am CDT
By Kristen Henneman

Rishab Gosalia was awarded one of four scholarships from Absolute Fencing Gear.

Christine Wang was awarded a Connor Porter Memorial Scholarship.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Six fencers were awarded a combined $14,000 in scholarships and nearly 600 high school students were honored for their academic achievements at the USA Fencing All-Academic Ceremony on Monday in St. Louis.

Absolute Fencing Gear presented $10,000 in scholarships – two $4,000 and two $1,000 – while the two winners of the Connor Porter Memorial Scholarship each received $2,000.

Melissa Du (Millburn, N.J.) and Rishab Gosalia (Livingston, N.J.) were both winners of the $4,000 scholarship from Absolute Fencing Gear who wrote essays on the prompt: “Please describe a significant event in your fencing experience that has transcended your athletic self and influenced who you are as a person.”

Gosalia, who will be entering his junior year at Livingston High School, fences saber at Integrity Fencing Studio and wrote about his efforts to befriend a teammate in a similar situation to a fencer at a nearby club who committed suicide.

“It’s great for me to be honored for this award and it’s especially important because I wrote about suicide and it’s very important for American society with many kids taking their life each year,” Gosalia said. “I think it’s important for people to recognize and understand that some fencers and student-athletes are going through certain things in their life and sometimes you need to talk to them and help them out so they feel like they belong.”

Du could not attend the ceremony, but will attend Harvard in the fall and fences foil at Fencers Club in New York.

The winners of the $1,000 Absolute Fencing Gear Scholarships are 2018 Cadet World Team Member Jonas Hansen (Cambridge, Mass.) and Anita Dey Barsukova (Richardson, Texas).

Hansen, who trains at Olympia Fencing Center in épée, is entering his senior year at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School while Barsukova graduated in the spring from Plano East High School. She fences saber at Lone Star Fencing Center.

Junior Christine Wang (Brea, Calif.) of Brea-Olinda High School and Joshua Shin (Los Angles, Calif.), who will be a sophomore at Campbell Hall School, each were awarded the Connor Porter Memorial Scholarship.

Presented by Trish Porter (Albuquerque, N.M.), the scholarship honors her son, Connor Porter, who tragically passed away in 2013 in a place crash weeks after winning bronze in Division III men’s foil at Summer Nationals.

Applicants were asked to submit an essay on the prompt: “Write about a time when either your own or someone else’s fun-loving attitude changed your perspective and describe how it altered your training as a fencer OR altered your thoughts about winning and losing.”

Wang’s essay explained how her coach helped change her mindset from being only about winning to finding the balance between the competitive side and having fun: “My coach Cory, he is unlike any coach you would ever meet. He doesn’t yell at you on the strip. He actually doesn’t really care if you win or lose. Every time when I come off the strip or when I’m done fencing, and when I’m upset with myself or when I’m happy with myself, the only question he asks me is, ‘did you have fun?’ … He would only focus on that and at first it was shocking to me and then when he kept on coaching me and coaching me and coaching me, I felt so blessed to be his student because to be such a great fencer, a great athlete and such a wonderful fencing community really means that you have to discard that mental block in your head that’s like, ‘I need to win’ or ‘oh my god what if I lose,’ because that just stops you from having fun and when I wrote that essay, I really focused on trying to showcase how much fencing meant to me and not only the athletic side, but also the mental and emotional side of always improving but always having fun.”

Wang fences foil and is a member of Gryphon Fencing Club while Shin fences epee at Los Angeles International Fencing Center.

Also honored during the event were All-Academic Team members who earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher during the 2017-18 school year:

  • First Team: 3.85 or higher
    • 505 Athletes
  • Second Team: 3.7 – 3.84
    • 67 Athletes
  • Honorable Mention: 3.5 – 3.69
    • 13 Athletes

Orlando Science High School led the tally with the most members of any high school with eight, followed by Half Hollows Hills West in New York with six.

By weapon, épée had the most All-Academic team members with 232 while foil and saber had 194 and 162, respectively.

Golden Gate Fencing Center was the most represented club with 18 student-athletes, followed by Los Angeles International Fencing Center with 15 and Capital Fencing Academy with 13. California led all states with 131 team members, followed by New Jersey and New York, which had 63 and 55, respectively.

On the list of team members included seven athletes who have fenced on Junior and Cadet World Championship teams:

  • Alexis Anglade (Alpharetta, Ga. / The Westminster Schools), 2018 Cadet World bronze medalist
  • Claire Beddingfield (Pacific Palisades, Calif. / Marlborough School), 2018 Cadet World Team member
  • Chloe Fox-Gitomer (Portland, Ore. / Oregon Episcopal School), 2018 Junior World team silver medalist
  • Jonas Hansen (Cambridge, Mass.) / Cambridge Rindge and Latin School), 2018 Cadet World Team member
  • Kara Linder (Chandler, Ariz. / Hamilton High School), 2016 Junior World team bronze medalist and 2016 Cadet World Team Champion
  • Kamar Skeete (Duluth, Ga. / Rivers Academy), 2018 Junior World team bronze medalist
  • Elizabeth Tartakovsky (Livingston, N.J. / Livingston High School), two-time Junior World team medalist and 2017 Cadet World bronze medalist

The following is a complete list of all athletes who were named to the 2017-2018 USA Fencing All-Academic Team (click the column header to sort alphabetically by first name, last name or weapon):

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