What fencing is all a ‘bout’

Liana Pickrell and Maddy Jones

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Junior Royce Wang poses with his trophy and his coach, Sasha Lepeshinski, after capturing eighth place in an international tournament in Poland. According to Wang, he attributes his success in fencing to Lepeshinski. Photo courtesy of Royce Wang.

Palo Alto High School has a reputation for having a strong sports program, having won three state championships in the past three years. A lesser known fact is that Paly is also home to a number of athletes who participate at high levels in more unique individual sports, such as fencing.

For junior Royce Wang, fencing is his passion.

It was no easy feat for Wang to achieve his status in the fencing community. He is ranked fifth in the United States Cadet Division (under age 17) and recently placed eighth in an international tournament by winning four bouts in the elimination round.

Fencing is a competitive, complex sport that is demanding both mentally and physically, according to Wang.

“[Fencing is] physically requiring and it’s also mentally requiring too because you have to think about what you’re doing, try to set your opponent up and your body has to keep up with your brain,” Wang said.

Wang fences for the prestigious Cardinal Fencing Club, which is run by Stanford University fencing coaches. Practicing six days a week for four hours a day, Wang is very committed to his sport.

Wang attributes his success mostly to his coach, Sasha Lepeshinski. Lepeshinski is an assistant coach at Stanford University and was a 12-time Champion of Belarus, according to gostanford.com.

“I found the right coach and he worked with me,” Wang said. “He coached and trained me with discipline, so my basics and all my techniques are really really well built.”

Wang has high ambitions for his future in fencing and is hoping to make the Youth Olympics in the summer of 2014. In order to do so, he must be ranked in the top three for Saber Cadets (he is currently ranked fifth) in the U.S. to compete in the qualifying championships in February 2014. The top 32 fencers from the championships will go on to the Youth Olympics that summer.

When Wang was nine years old, he got interested in fencing when he tried it out on his mom’s recommendation.

“I got into fencing because my mom was shopping in San Jose and she ran into the fencing club,” Wang said. “She asked me if I wanted to try it. I tried the summer camp and I got into it.”

When Wang’s peers hear about his unique habit, Wang finds they often “think it’s cool, but a lot of them don’t know about fencing.”

Wang encourages others to try fencing.

“It’s a fun sport and you get to really work out and think through a lot of situations,” Wang said.