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Two West Geauga fencers to compete at Junior Olympics
by Eric Leventhal, Editor-in-Chief

Is West Geauga a big-name fencing school? It may be gaining that reputation, as fencers Matt Solomon and Kate Witte will be competing in the United States Junior Olympics this week at the Cleveland Convocation Center.

Both Solomon and Witte qualified two months ago at the regional qualifying tournament at Oberlin College. Witte finished second in the 17 & under division, losing to a Shaker Heights fencer in the final. She also finished 6th in the 20 & under division, which was just high enough to qualify her for that division at the Junior Olympics.

Solomon, an epee fencer, won his preliminary group but was upset in the semi-finals by a fencer he already beat in the preliminary group. He said the final match was on his mind, and he didnít take his opponent seriously enough. ďI felt like I could have won the tournament, if I hadnít made such a tactical mistake. Iíve been kicking myself for it since,Ē lamented Solomon. However, because of his strong results in the preliminary group, Solomon qualified for the Junior Olympics with a fourth-place finish.

Participating in the Junior Olympics is a great accomplishment by itself, but both Solomon and Witte want to make a strong showing there. Since qualifying, they have stepped up training intensity to a new level. Solomon has been fencing nearly every day, driving long distances to train at clubs in Shaker Heights and Elyria. Since Witte is a member of the WGHS fencing team, her regimen is different. In addition to normal team practices twice per week, Witte practices her footwork and lunges at home by herself. She calls it body memory training. ďI want to practice it so that by the time I get to the tournament, itís almost second nature,Ē said Witte.

However, Solomon and Witte have realistic expectations. ďIíll do the best I can, but I donít expect to go very far,Ē said Witte. Solomon hopes to make it to the round of 16 but admits that is a long shot. ďIíll be reasonably happy if I make the top 64,Ē he said. Both fencers consider it an honor just to compete in such a prestigious tournament, and they want to prove that they can compete with the Americaís best.


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