Freshman fences to Junior Olympics


Mitch Hopkins

Freshman fencer Jack Plumer lunges forward with his epee. Plumer has been fencing competitively for four years.

Advancing on his opponent, thrusting his arm forward and cutting his opponent in the chest, freshman Jack Plumer throws up his arms in victory, sealing his place in the national rankings at the Junior Olympics.

It takes a lot to be nationally ranked in any sport. Hard work and major dedication take place. However, one athlete that stands for that ranking is Plumer.

Plumer has been fencing for over four years now. “I started around the end of fifth grade, around April. I came into the fencing club in Abingdon. The owner, also the head coach, gave me a 20 minute introductory lesson, and right from that moment, I knew I wanted to pursue it,” Plumer said.

Fencing as a dictionary definition is the art or sport of using a foil, épée, or saber in attack and defense. The sport itself is physical, but Plumer considers the mental portion of the sport to be equal. “You kind of have to get a feel for your opponent and see what they’re thinking. Then do something to out think them,” Plumer said.

Although five years ago Plumer was dedicated solely to playing soccer, he now practices fencing three days a week for approximately six to seven hours a week. Owner and head coach at the Maryland Fencing Club in Abingdon Greg Paye was shocked to see someone so enthralled about fencing. “Jack was very enthusiastic right away, he didn’t seem to mind the ups and downs as much as the other kids that participated,” Paye said.

Paye was both amazed and excited by Jack’s performance, earning a spot in the Junior Olympics at only 14. “Jack surprised us all, perhaps even himself, by gaining a spot on the Cadet (Under-17 yrs) national rankings this season, while he was still in the Youth-14 (ages 11-14) age category,” Paye said.

While at the Junior Olympics held in Cleveland, Plumer set his goal to get out of the elimination stage, but didn’t expect to get on the national points list in an age group above him. “I was really happy because when I went in that day I was just trying to get through the pools. If you are in the bottom 20 percent you get eliminated, but then I won four out of my six pools,” Plumer said.

After the elimination stage, Plumer was set 50th out of 235 fencers who competed at the event. Plumber accomplished this all while competing against kids that are in an age group above him and competing against fencers who could have been up to 3 years older than him.

For Plumer, it seems that anything is a posibility for his fencing career. “College recruiters for NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] teams tend to put a lot of weight behind a fencer’s ranking on the Cadet and Junior lists, so Jack could go quite far,” Paye said.

Grant Sharretts is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and