The Pioneer fencers were at their first national tournament in over 20 years this past weekend. From February 16–19, Sehar Mahesh '25, Ethan Apanasewicz '25, Ava Palfi '24 and Tessa Lavi '26 competed in Charlotte, North Carolina in the 2024 USA Fencing Junior Olympics.

Dr. Chapman, who ran the program from 1968 to 2000, had taken fencers to the National Championships during that era. This was the first group to go to a national competition since fencing was revived at WRA in 2014. The Junior Olympics is the premiere event for the best athletes in the Under 17 and Under 20 age groups from around the country. 

Sehar fenced first on the 16th in the Under 20 Women’s Foil. She met her goal of scoring touches in her pool, which was an accomplishment given her opponents' skill levels. In local tournaments, all the fencers advance into the elimination round; however, at the national events, only the top 256 competitors advance. Though Sehar didn’t meet this threshold and finished her day.

On the 17th, both Ava and Tessa fenced in the Under 20 Women’s Epee. Ava won one of her bouts and scored in all but one of the others. Tessa also won one of her bouts and scored in three of her losses in the pool. Ava was 22 spots away from making it into the next round and Tessa was 31 spots out. Both girls stayed to watch the rest of the tournament. 

On the 18th, Sehar returned to fence the Under 17 Women’s Foil. With some more awareness of the difficulty of the day, she managed one win in her pool. She was ten places away from advancing into the next round. Ethan also fenced his only event, the Under 17 Men’s Epee. Ethan fenced a great pool and lost two of his bouts by only one point each. He did not advance into the elimination round.

On the 19th, Tessa returned to fence the Under 17 Women’s Epee event. Tessa managed to score in every bout and was more confident than her first day, but she did not come up with a win in the pool round and did not advance to the elimination bracket. 

The four fencers learned a great deal about the national level of fencing, their own place in the sport and their growth moving forward. To compete among the nation's finest is a feat well worth celebrating. We congratulate them most sincerely, and we hope you will as well when you see them on campus. Save the date for their last home tournament on March 3 in the Field House — we will see you there. Go Pios!

Enjoy photos and videos captured by Head Coach Neil Mittal.