Trio from Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy head to national competition
John Linscott, 26, of Easthampton, at left, and Alexander Hajir, 15, of Leverett, both qualified to compete in the division 2 men's epee competition at the USA National Fencing Championships. PHOTO BY 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.
COURTESY OF PAUL SISE. Purchase photo reprints »
EASTHAMPTON — Three young men will represent the Pioneer Valley at the USA National Fencing Championships this weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
The athletes, who all train at the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy in Easthampton, qualified for the national championship at regional competitions this spring. They are 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.
Hajir and Linscott will both compete in the Division 2 Men’s Epee category, after Hajir took first and Linscott second in that category at a regional event in New York in April.
Doeleman will also compete with the epee, but a level below in Division 3. He placed fourth in a regional competition in May to qualify, but did not find out for sure that he would attend the national championships until last week due to issues with another fencer’s membership.
“I’m still in utter shock, I’m feeling euphoric happiness,” Doeleman said a day after getting the news. He has been fencing for over seven years, and has been training for competitions for two years. “I really want to do this now. I’m ready for it.”
Hajir, who has been fencing for five years and competing for two, said he was excited to qualify for his first major event. “The biggest thing that went through my mind was that I’ve been working hard at this for the past couple years and it’s great to get results and see it pay off,” he said.
Linscott started fencing when he was 17, and took a break during college before training rigorously for the last four years. He said just qualifying for the national competition is a big achievement.
“It’s great because you’re not just going (to nationals) because you can, you’re going because you earned it,” he said. “I’ve been training really hard and I will try to make the most of it.”
Fencing Academy owner and instructor Paul Sise said the academy has had a few students qualify each year for the last few years. He will go along to Columbus to support them. It is the first time at the event for all of them.
“I was not only happy that they qualified, but reaffirmed in my belief that they deserved to go,” Sise said. “I expect them to do quite well.”
According to the USA Fencing National Championship website, Doeleman is among 145 competitors on Friday and Linscott and Hajir will compete Sunday against 165 others.
Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.