Two members of the Yale fencing teams, Jennifer Cohen ’09 and Mike Pearce ’09, competed in the Junior Olympics, which were held in Hartford Feb. 17-20 and included contests in all three weapons. Though their Yale fencing records were unaffected by their performances in their respective events because the Junior Olympics is unrelated to the NCAA, their attendance served a symbolic purpose, representing Yale in a national competition.
Pearce placed 14th out of 240 competitors in the Junior Men’s Epee yesterday. A seasoned athlete, Pearce has been competing in the Junior Olympics since 2001 and was already on the points list this year because he had ranked within the top 32 at a past national event. This allowed him to compete in the Junior Olympics without attending a regional event from his hometown to qualify.
Pearce said that while Yale tournaments are focused on team performance, the Junior Olympics focuses entirely on individual ability.
“While I was proud to represent Yale, it was more of an individual event,” he said. “I was really proud of my results.”
Cohen, however, said she was unsatisfied with her performance in the Women’s Junior Foil because she had been sick. She finished 129th out of 204 fencers.
Cohen is also a veteran of the Junior Olympics. Last weekend marked her third consecutive attendance at the competition. Although she missed the qualifying rounds in her hometown for a Yale tournament at Brandeis, she petitioned the committee, sending in her results from the past year and stating her reason for her absence, and was allowed to fence.
Despite her finish, Cohen said she was pleased to have two Elis there.
“It looks good that Yale is out there competing,” she said.
Men’s fencing captain Chris Sinay ’06 said the two competitors served as role models for the various high school fencers who attended, as the event was open to qualified athletes under 20.
“It’s basically recruiting territory for colleges,” he said.
Collegiate coaches seek out talented high school players at the Junior Olympics, pointing to their team members as examples of their schools’ prowess, Sinay said.