The 2013 USA Fencing National Championships in Columbus, Ohio came to an end last week. The last of the 20 fencers from the Illinois Fencers Club (IFC) of Mount Prospect who participated in the event returned home on July 7th. The athletes, 12 of whom are members of the Youth Program competed in total of 22 events (one to four events per fencer), came away with six medals, including a national champion title! The best overall result the club has ever achieved.
To send 20 athletes to the largest fencing competition in the world, one that hosts over 4,000 fencers from 400 different fencing clubs, may not seem like much of an accomplishment. However, to quote John Lartz, IFC's Treasurer: "Some clubs have nearly that many competitors in just one event. But when IFC athletes come away winning medals in over a quarter of the events they entered that is exceptional! It speaks volumes for the caliber of athletes, the coach and the organization as a whole." The athletes did an outstanding job in the competition.
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So, let's recognize and congratulate those best of the best!
In the Senior Team Men's Epee competition Misha Heber (18) and Sasha Heber (16) from Elk Grove Village, Gabe Weininger (16) from Northbrook and Maciek Zmyslowski (21) from Des Plaines won the national championship in men's senior team epee bringing home the gold medal and lots of respect for themselves and IFC. This was the first gold medal won by an IFC team, since the Senior Team Women's Epee in 2006.
Maciek Zmyslowski had a repeat of his individual event from last year. The junior in the Integrated Science Program (ISP), biology, and chemistry at Northwestern University in Evanston won the silver medal in Div 1-A epee, an event with 89 athletes. Maciek says that "at some point, (fencing) is a test of self confidence and a way of looking deep within myself to find what it takes to get to the top levels of competition, but mostly I use it as an avenue to meet friends and to enjoy myself."
When talking about the team event, in which he competed side by side with his fellow fencers, Maciek says that "winning the team event was a ton of fun. On one hand each of us had to perform solo, but on the other hand, we knew that our next teammate would pick up where we left off, so it is like running a really intense relay race!"
The next two medals went to Tim Glass and John Lartz, who placed 3rd and 7th respectfully in Veteran (50-59) Men's Epee. In addition to winning the bronze medal, Tim Glass was named to the U.S. National team representing team USA at the World Championships for Veterans in Bulgaria, later this year. The third medal for the IFC veterans was won by Dave St. George, who placed 8th in the younger age group (40-49y). The club's veterans, who on daily basis provide support and guidance to younger fencers, set wonderful examples in the early stages of the national championships.
The IFC's youngest medal winner was Sammie Doro (15) from Arlington Heights. She placed 8th in Y14 Women's Epee. She also did great job in her other two events, making the top 32 in Cadet and Div II Women's Epee. Sammie ended the season in 10th place on the National Ranking List.
In addition to the medalists, Gabe Weininger, also a member of the winning epee team, placed 14th in Cadet Men's Epee, while David Vishny was 17th and 18th in Div II and Div III Men's Epee respectively. Participating for the first time at the highest level, Zimo Zhu earned his E rating by placing 40th in Cadet Men's Epee in a field of 227 competitors.
None of this would have been possible without the hard work and inspiration of Coach Ina Harizanova. As John Lartz acknowledged: "Special recognition goes to Coach Ina Harizanova, whose dedication and devotion to the sport of fencing, IFC and its members made much of this possible. She has directly or indirectly influenced every one of these athletes and her drive and determination have lead to (... their) success at these national championships."
The Illinois Fencers Club promotes and teaches the Olympic sport of fencing to students of all ages and skill levels and provides a friendly venue for members to practice their sport. It is a member operated non-for-profit sports association that has been serving beginning, recreational, and competitive fencers for more than 40 years. The club meets in the Lions Recreation Center in Mount Prospect.