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Competitors from Easthampton fencing school excel at national championship

  • Zeno Doeleman, 14, left, competes at the USA National Fencing Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on June 28. <br/><br/>COURTESY OF WILJO DOELEMAN.

    Zeno Doeleman, 14, left, competes at the USA National Fencing Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on June 28.

    COURTESY OF WILJO DOELEMAN. Purchase photo reprints »

  • John Linscott, 26, left, poses with Alexander Hajir, 15, at the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy in Easthampton.<br/><br/>COURTESY OF PAUL SISE.

    John Linscott, 26, left, poses with Alexander Hajir, 15, at the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy in Easthampton.

    COURTESY OF PAUL SISE. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Zeno Doeleman, 14, pictured here at a past competition, tied for third place   in the division 3 men's epee competition at the USA National Fencing Championships. <br/><br/>COURTESY OF PAUL SISE.

    Zeno Doeleman, 14, pictured here at a past competition, tied for third place in the division 3 men's epee competition at the USA National Fencing Championships.

    COURTESY OF PAUL SISE. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Zeno Doeleman, 14, left, competes at the USA National Fencing Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on June 28. <br/><br/>COURTESY OF WILJO DOELEMAN.
  • John Linscott, 26, left, poses with Alexander Hajir, 15, at the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy in Easthampton.<br/><br/>COURTESY OF PAUL SISE.
  • Zeno Doeleman, 14, pictured here at a past competition, tied for third place   in the division 3 men's epee competition at the USA National Fencing Championships. <br/><br/>COURTESY OF PAUL SISE.

John Linscott, 26, of Easthampton, Alexander Hajir, 15, of Leverett, and Zeno Doeleman, 14, who splits his time between homes in South Hadley and Amherst, all qualified for the national competition by winning at regional matches.

Doeleman, who competed in the Division 3 Men’s Epee category, tied for third place out of 138 competitors. Linscott, who competed with the epee but in the higher Division 2, placed seventh out of 162 others. The top eight in the competition receive medals, said Pioneer Fencing Academy owner Paul Sise.

Hajir, who also competed in the Division 2 Men’s Epee category, placed 128 of 162 but defeated the eventual silver medalist in one bout.

Doeleman, who has fenced for seven years, said his goal was to play it safe to try to make it to the top eight. “My strategy was to keep it simple. I was trying to fence as conservatively as possible,” he said.

In one bout, he lunged and threw out his back and eventually lost that round. But that only makes him want to go back to nationals again in the future, he said. “I’m definitely going to go back,” he said.

Linscott, who has fenced on and off since he was 17, said he also plans to try to qualify for the championship again. “This had made me want to train harder,” he said.

“I’m pleased with it,” he said of his placing. “The guy I lost to ended up being the national champion, and he deserved to win.”

Hajir, who has fenced for five years, could not be reached for comment.

Sise, who attended the championships to support his students, called the fencers’ showing there “a huge accomplishment.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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