Fencers ready to try their hand at nationals
Current Fencing Club, now in its fourth season, has taken a giant leap forward recently as two local competitors have earned the right to represent Saskatchewan at the Canadian Fencing Federation’s National Championship in Saskatoon on June 25-28.
Sarah Houghtaling and Brianna Jenson, both 14 years of age, will represent Swift Current and Saskatchewan on the national stage.
Houghtaling has been fencing for two years and will compete in the cadet girls and under-15 sabre events.
“Sarah started out two years ago in foil and in October we had done a bit of a demonstration and she found that she quite enjoyed doing sabre. So she moved into doing sabre pretty much full time except in our club because we have mainly foilers so she was still doing some foil,” said coach Lisa Hagen. “She qualified by rankings because of where she placed in provincials tournaments that allowed her to qualify for nationals.”
“I am against the best of the best in Canada so really it is just to score one point,” said Houghtaling of her goals at nationals.
“I joined fencing because a lot of my friends were in it and they said that it was just a blast. I got there and it was. My coach said that I wasn’t really suited to foil and she hooked me up with a Saskatoon coach, John, and I started with some sabre lessons and that was even better.”
Brianna Jenson, in her first year of fencing, will join Houghtaling in Saskatoon at nationals and will compete in the cadet and under 15 epee.
“She picked up epee halfway through the season and seems to have found a talent for it. She seemed to pick up a lot of it quite easily and so when she fenced at provincials she actually placed first out of the cadet women and had done fairly well at another tournament,” said Hagen of Jenson who received a wildcard berth from the Saskatchewan Fencing Association due to her strong late season results.
Jenson explained why she joined fencing this past season saying, “A lot of people I knew were in it and a few people dropped out but they still talked about how much fun it was and I figured that sword fighting would probably be an interesting sport to join.”
“It is a really great club,” said Jenson. “It is still pretty small but it is really, really fun because everyone knows everyone and we all help each other out with fencing. After you go to a couple of tournaments people start to recognize you and it is not as scary going up against a whole bunch of people you don’t know because you do know them.”
As for her goals at nationals? “Um, to survive,” she said with a laugh.
Hagen has just completed her fourth season as the coach of the SCFC, which has approximately 20 fencers and she is excited to send the first two fencers from the club to nationals.
“It is something that we can promote saying that it is not just some little tiny club anymore. In fact the provincial association is quite happy with how the Swift Current club is going. They are very excited with what is going on down here and it can only do wonderful things for our club.”
As for her expectations of her two young competitors, Hagen is hoping for the best.
“Basically just to enjoy themselves. This is the first time that any of our fencers from Swift Current will be at a fencing tournament that is technically outside of Saskatchewan… This is the highest that they have ever fenced. I just want them to get used to the crowd because it is going to be bigger than we are used to. There are going to be other coaches yelling and giving instructions to their fencers well they are on the piste. I just want them to absorb everything that is going on so that if they qualify again next year then they are not going to be nervous. I just want them to learn and try their best. If they win a bout that is great, if they don’t that is great too. At least the stood up and stood their ground.”
While in some sports Saskatchewan may be an also-ran at the national level, Hagen explained that is not the case in fencing.
“Oh yeah, in fact last year the junior senior women’s foil Canadian champion was from Saskatchewan…We stack up quite high in fact Saskatoon had the former junior world champion in their club. We hold our own when it comes to fencing and most people in the country know who our fencers are.”
At nationals competitions will be held in the Under-15, Cadet, Junior, and Veteran categories as well as the Senior competition for the Canadian Selection Circuit (CSC) #1, the organization responsible for determining the National team members who will represent Canada at international events.