A pair of freshmen Ohio State fencers have spent the last few weeks preparing for their first Junior Olympic competition, which could pave their way to the United States World Championship team.
Oliver Shindler and Ally Micek will take part in the four-day competition set to be held Friday through Monday at the Cleveland Convention Center.
Shindler said he and Micek have been competing this entire season to accumulate enough points to qualify for the Junior Olympics. The pair have been getting advice and encouragement from many of the older members of the team.
Micek said three men and three women will be selected from the Junior Olympics to represent the United States, making this a huge opportunity to be recognized on the national and international level.
This isn’t Shindler’s and Micek’s first time competing on such a grand stage, however. After meeting each other through fencing in high school, the two traveled internationally on the same team, competing and representing the U.S.
“When I first started, I was just doing this for fun, but once I got into high school, I realized the opportunities,” Micek said. “Once you get into high school, it was like a dream for me to compete in college.”
The pair are both epee fencers, meaning their event uses the largest and heaviest weapons of the three main events (the other two being foil and sabre). Points are scored by making contact with the point of the weapon on any spot of the opponent’s body.
Shindler said many of the upperclassmen on the team have been in their position before when they were freshmen, so they are a great resource for the young guns to turn to when they have questions about preparing.
“A lot of the top guys like (OSU sophomores) Marc-Antoine (Blais Belanger) and Lewis Weiss, they’ve just been helping me mentally prepare for all of the competitions this season, whether they be college or national,” Shindler said.
The duo is getting help and advice from other teammates on the team in order to better prepare.
“Same thing goes for the upperclassmen girls, we talk about it and they’ve all been in the same situation as we were, like, two years ago. They have really solid advice for us,” Micek said.
Despite the grand implications, Shindler said he is looking to prepare for this weekend’s Junior Olympics event just like any other competition.
“I prepare the same for every competition,” he said.