Chapter Sixteen: Summer Days Are Here Again

Soon after, like clockwork, the individual season started. I had graduated to the Senior Sectionals, not fitting in the U-17 age group anymore. We were the host division that year, so everyone who even showed up at the qualifiers automatically qualified for the Sectionals. This was my first real experience in an open field, and fighting a full field of adults took some getting used to. I had a pretty bad outing at the Sectionals, and I was really glad that we only had to drive to Brentwood for it.

After a few other miscellaneous Brentwood competitions, we hit the biggie--qualifiers for the Summer National Championships. We got a field of about thirty people for my event (Division II/III men's foil), the usual crowd. I got a ridiculously easy pool round (remember way back in sophomore year I mentioned that this happened exactly twice? This was the other time.), going 4-1 and getting a very high seed for the direct elimination--basically an NCAA basketball-style tournament, with pairings off by seeding, one loss and you're out. I was seeded high enough to get a bye through the first DE round, and in the second round I wore down my opponent, winning somewhere in the vicinity of 15-8. My opponent in the third round was Paul Livanos. I'd fenced him dozens of times at this point, and pretty much knew how to get past his defenses…unfortunately, he could say the same about me. I got a break in my favor that probably turned the tide--we were running low on directors, so Blake Miller (who had gotten really good in the past few years) was dispatched to direct the strip. He must really like attack in preparation attacks (my main style), because every time I did one and the call was questionable, it went in my favor. Livanos regrouped after the first period break, but the damage was already done and I finished him off 15-10. This vaulted me into the final four, and as I looked at the brackets I think my groan was heard for about a mile in each direction. My next opponent? Michael Jon Kreidman.

I was getting REALLY SICK of losing to Mike at this point (he was the best fencer in the school league at this point, but no matter), and I liberally let him know so before the match. He knew I was joking around at heart, but I was being loud and annoying enough to start getting to him. I was jumping off the walls and punching things for all twenty minutes until our match was called, and as soon as the director called, "Fence!" I ran at him with a banshee yell and stunned him long enough that he just stood there as I hit him right in the chest. It took about five minutes for the director to stop laughing, forcing me to headbutt the nearest wall to keep the adrenaline pumping. This was the most aggressive match I'd ever fenced, ever, and after about three points we had everyone in the gym watching the match (most people not exactly rooting for me, just rooting for the underdog against Mike). It was 7-7 at the end of the first period, and I was about ready to collapse. Luck took a long walk away from me at that point…Final Score: 15-7 Kreidman. I still say it was one of the best matches I'd ever fenced. He ended up winning the competition, and it's a good thing he did or I would have had to murder him for putting me through that and then having the audacity not to win. We got the final results, and I had qualified for the National Championships in both Divisions II and III (Division I is the hardest, III is easiest). And, saving the best for last, by finishing in the top four I earned an "E" national ranking! I was having such a good day that I bought a lottery ticket on the way home, just to see if I could squeeze any extra luck out of the day. Alas, my luck was confined to fencing.

The looming Nationals in July kept me motivated enough to practice in my basement every once in a while over the summer, kicking it up to full speed a week before the event. Before I knew it, it was time to go to Austin, Texas for the USFA Summer National Championships!

Up to RimRod's Fencing Autobiography
Back to Chapter Fifteen: End of Line
Forward to Chapter Seventeen: The Show

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