Natick, MA February 16, 2016
The nation’s best U17 and U20 fencers meet every year at the Junior Olympic Championships to crown their national champions. Zeta Fencing, a local saber fencing club in Natick, Mass., has a long history of successful participants in this tournament. But at this year’s championships in Cleveland, Ohio, the Junior Women’s Saber Team of Alexandra Gorman (Wellesley), Miranda Gieg (Sudbury), Regina O’Brien (Wellesley), and Violet Michel (Cambridge) achieved something special. For the third consecutive year, the team could not be beaten by any other club in the nation and defeated its championship title. In the semi-finals, Team Zeta beat Bergen Fencing Club decisively with 45-15. With a closer result of 45-42, Zeta beat a strong team from Manhattan Fencing Center to win the gold medal for the third time in a row.
All four team members have been training at Zeta Fencing for many years and are students of Zeta’s head coach Zoran Tulum, the current national coach of the US Men’s Saber Team. While Tulum was at an international training camp in Paris, France at the time of his team’s victory, he knew that his fencers were experienced enough to secure the title without him being there. “I saw that they were fencing well at practice before the competition, so I expected them to do well at Junior Olympics. Winning this title three times in a row shows the strong bond between our fencers. To win a team event, all fencers have to work together and fully support each other.” The team was coached by Bartosz Pukal, a former coach of Zeta Fencing who has recently returned to his hometown Chicago.
Violet Michel and Regina O’Brien are seniors and will leave Zeta Fencing to join NCAA fencing teams this fall. Miranda Gieg (16) and Alexandra Gorman (15) are planning to continue fencing for Team Zeta and will most likely return with new team members to defend their title yet again at next year’s Junior Olympics.
Zeta’s Junior Men’s Saber Team also had a strong showing and placed third in the nation. Brian Szeto (Weston), Leon Rotenstein (Ashland), and Nicholas Mackiewicz (Westwood) closely lost their semi-final bout to Peter Westbrook Foundation from New York City with 42-45. In the end, they beat Peninsula Fencing 45-35 to claim the bronze medal. “Some of our strongest junior fencers were not able to attend the team event, so our team was not as strong as it could have been. I’m very proud of them because they were able to achieve this remarkable result with only three fencers. Again, it is the spirit of mutual support and friendship that connects our fencers and makes them so strong in team competitions,” said head coach Tulum.