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Star freshman fencers rise to occasion at national tournament

Connor Morris and Andrew Cassino

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Freshmen twins Celine and William Owens (9), nationally ranked fencers, travel around the country and even the world competing in saber youth fencing tournaments. Celine won the silver medal, and William, out with a wrist injury, coached Celine and their younger brother Harrison at the Southwest National Cadet Super Youth Circuit (SYC) Saber in Salt Lake City,
At the SYC, Celine went through a series of about 10 bouts to reach the final round. The preliminary matches began with pools, where every fencer faced each other in a pool of about 5-7 opponents, then with a system based on those results fencers are sorted into a tableau, which are elimination rounds that carry on until one person wins, she said.
Celine made it all the way to the finals, and her silver medal finish was the best result she had received this year, William said.
Harrison, their younger brother, also performed well. He finished in the top five, Celine said.
Even though he was out with a wrist fracture due to overuse, William still made the trip to Utah and contributed to the success. “I provided suggestions at the one-minute breaks, during the bouting and also provided water and other drinks when she was exhausted,” William said.
Both the twins fence saber, the most aggressive of the three styles (saber, epee, foil), according to Celine. “In saber, generally, you want to stick to the attack, that’s the only way you’re going to score touches, you don’t want to stick to defense, so if your opponent is constantly pushing you back in the box, that means that they’re probably going to win,” Celine said.
Originally, William began playing the sport simply through an interest in Star Wars, and Celine tried it out after not liking ballet. Now, both twins have fenced for years, with a training schedule of four or more times a week, William since five and Celine since nine.
At Manhattan Fencing Center, where the twins train, practices consist of private lessons and group classes, running through warmups, cutting, footwork exercises, stages, fainting, drills, and other exercises. While the men’s and women’s saber divisions are separated, the twins both agree that fencing has helped them outside the sport.
“I definitely learned how to try to invest inside something and how to work hard on certain movements so that I can perfect them, and I think that’s really helped me in my schoolwork too,” William said,” I guess you can say it helps me on essays and stuff because I’m kind of a perfectionist now.”
“Before [fencing] I used to get really stressed out on tests, and because of that I wouldn’t do very well. Now I’m able to control my emotions and calm myself down, so instead of freaking out, I can focus on the content and try to do well,” Celine said.
Balancing competitive sports and schoolwork is often difficult for devoted athletes, but the benefits from fencing have outweighed the difficulty for the twins. “It’s hard to balance, but it helps with mentality. You start to get perseverant, resilient; sometimes you’ll have tough losses and you’ll have to deal with it, just like inside school when you have a bad test, and eventually after several competitions, you’ll develop a mindset, a way of approaching competing, that’s beneficial,” Celine said.
In the future, William hopes to go to the Junior Olympics, which he’ll be preparing for as soon as he returns from his wrist injury. Celine has her own set of specific goals: “I’m not thinking about going to the Olympics, but I do want to get good national results. I have several opponents that are really good fencers and I really want to beat them.”
Aside from those national tournaments, you can look out for Celine competing on the school’s fencing team this season.

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Star freshman fencers rise to occasion at national tournament