A Division I fencing
tournament is the highest level of competition
mandated by the United States Fencing Association
. Usually, Division
I events (such as at a North American Circuit
event) are open only to those
fencers who have obtained a classification of "D", "C", "B", or "A" in
the weapon of that event.
The Division I events at the National Championships are theoretically
open to anyone, but the path to get there is rigorous--only the top 25%
of the field at the divisional qualifers for Division I advance to the
sectional qualifiers, and only the top 25% of that field get to
compete at Nationals. So, while a ringer might make it through
one round of eliminations, it isn't bloody likely that a fencer who doesn't
deserve to be there will make it through both. The Division II
and Division III qualifying paths are only half as hard--only the divisional
qualifiers are held.
Winning a national Division I competition is a big deal,
and they're almost always won by one of the ten or so best fencers in
the country in that event and category.