With fundraising and dedication, Texas Fencing claims top-10 finish at nationals

Jay Desai

Most of the time, success comes at a high price. For the Texas Fencing club — which finished 10th at the College Fencing National Championships — fundraising helped foot the bill for the successful and expensive trip to nationals.   

“There is no qualifying path for our collegiate nationals, but there is a big price tag,” said Daron Jacob, team president and biology senior. “An average national trip costs the club about $18,000.”

As fencing is such an expensive sport, it’s up to the club members to raise the funds necessary to compete.

“Every year, we need to finance this trip through Rec Sports allocation funds, membership dues and fundraising events, so you can say we made it to nationals with our awesome teamwork,” Jacob said.

That fundraising paid off this past weekend, when the team returned from the nationals in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, with a 10th overall finish, gathering three team and two individual medals. Many members trained vigorously for the competition and came to UT with prior experience in the sport.

“I train year-round either at [University of Texas Fencing Club] or my hometown club, Alliance Fencing Academy,” biochemistry senior Julia Chernis said. “Before a tournament, I attempt to smooth out any new skills I’m learning and focus on my overall tactics.” 

The club practices three times and additionally watches videos from Olympic competitions outside of practice. Members cite Olympic fencers, such as Gábor Boczkó, and the Korean team as their favorites to study.

“[Practice] is intense and challenging but always worth it,” Jacob said. “The coaches always push us to our limits.”

A signature moment from the weekend came from the men’s epee in which Texas, ranked No. 21 out of 32 teams in team direct elimination, matched up against No. 12 University of Massachusetts in the first round.

The Minutemen had beaten Texas in all of its bouts during the first day of competition.

“When we heard we would be matched up against them the following day, we were a little worried,” Jacob said. 

The match came down to the ninth bout, when one of Texas’ members faced off against UMass’ C slot, who had beaten the same Texas fencer the day before. Texas eventually got the final point, taking the encounter and upsetting the Minutemen. 

While this weekend was very successful, the team wants to continue its momentum into the coming seasons.

“We have definitely grown in membership, size and skill,” Chernis said. “We always have prospective students who decide to pick up fencing during college and a steady flow of fencers with previous experience that are willing to coach new members.”