Experience plus youthful energy was the key last weekend at the Olympics – at least at fencing's Junior Olympics.
Underclassman talent continued to shine for both the men's and women's fencing team as six freshman and sophomore members fenced at the Junior Olympics this past weekend. Two men's team members and four women's team members traveled to Oakland, Ca., where their disappointment over the rainy California weather was quickly overshadowed by excitement over impressive results.
In the under-20 competition, sophomore foil Aaron Filner was one of three Princetonians to qualify for the finals, in which the top eight fencers in each sword compete. Filner won his first-round match of the finals and qualified for the final four, where he was eliminated. Filner eventually tied for third overall in foil.
"I was very happy with how I did," Filner said. "It was a lot better than I've ever done before."
The Junior Olympics is as much a test of endurance as of fencing skills. The competition in each sword starts with a field of between 120 and 160 fencers and is narrowed down through a combination of round-robin and draw style competitions. For Filner, it took 10 and a half hours and over 10 bouts before his day was over.
Like many fencers at the competition, Filner has been competing in the Junior Olympics for a number of years. In this, his third year competing, Filner did much better than in previous years, making the finals for the first time in the under-20 competition. He had previously made the finals in the under-17 category.
"It feels good," said Filner, in reference to making the finals. "It means I'm getting better. This competition is sort of a litmus test every year on how you're doing. I'm happily surprised."
Filner attributes his improvement to his year and a half of fencing at Princeton.
"Overall being here, putting in more time, and fencing five days a week has made the difference," Filner said.
Freshman epee Amanda Jones, a finalist on the women's side, also attributes her improved results to her Princeton fencing experience. She had previously only finished in the top 64 in the under-20 and top 32 in the under-17 competitions.
"This is much better than I've ever done before," Jones said. "A lot of the difference is Princeton. I've fenced a lot more and I have been introduced to a lot of new ideas."
Jones finished seventh in the epee finals behind her teammate, freshman Kristina Hurme, who finished third. Jones has gained confidence from her success for her collegiate career, and especially for fencing circuits outside collegiate competitions, like the Junior Olympics.
"I know I have a chance now (in other other fencing circuits)," Jones said. "I've gained more experience and learned what you have to do in those competitions."
Other Princetonians who competed in Junior Olympics included freshman epee Steven Caputo, and foils sophomore Orsolya Szotyory-Grove and freshman Lisa Leslie.
Both the men's and women's team will compete against Harvard, Yale and Duke Saturday, Feb. 21, at Jadwin Gym. At H-Y-Ps, the women are looking to beat Yale and enter a three-way tie for the Ivy title, while the men will try to remain in second in the Ivies, keeping alive their dim hopes for an Ivy title.