Sierra Blades Fencing Results
Youth fencers made good progress this past season:
Epeeist Aden Conley fenced in six meets last season and medaled in each one.
Epeeist Cheyenne Ruiz finished 3rd in the y-14 local meet in June 2014.
Foilist Thomas Ballinger finished 16th at an unrated y-12 foil meet in San Francisco in September 2014.
Epeeist Alec Espalin finished 5th at the Junior Olympic qualifiers in Las Vegas in November of 2013.
Epeeist Alec Espalin finished 14th at the 2015 December RYC.
Youth Fencer Heads to Junior Olympics
From the RGJ, 2013
Inside an unassuming building off of Valley Road hangs a poster with the silhouette of a fencer clenching a fist in victory from the 2010 Junior Olympics. When Cheyenne Ruiz first joined the Reno Silver Blades, that poster inspired a goal.
“I used to sit there and stare at it, and think, ‘Wow, it would be amazing to go to a Junior Olympics,’” she said.
Now, after just two years of training, the 14-year-old will achieve that goal when she travels to Portland for this weekend’s Junior Olympics Fencing Championship.
“She picked up fencing very quickly,” instructor Benjamin Korn said. “She works hard. She’s here four days a week. She’s extremely coachable, and she’s hungry to learn.”
Fencing is a combination of timing and strategy, a kind of musical chess. It requires perfect timing, and the ability to think many moves ahead. Which might be why Ruiz picked it up so quickly. As someone who loves chess, plays the piano and sang in Sparks Idol, the ability to fence came naturally.
Her musical background has played a big part in training and in bouts. With it, Korn is able to use musical terminology to help adjust the tempo of her movements. She has quickly advanced from beginner to competing in foil at the Junior Olympics.
She also will compete in épée, a discipline she’s only been training at since November. For most students, the ability to switch from one discipline to another, after such a short period of time, would be overwhelming. Then again, Ruiz isn’t like most.
In that Sparks Idol contest, the straight-A student from High Desert Montessori School picked an Etta James song, not a typical choice for any teenager. She’s also been on a national-level cheer squad with Sierra Spirit. Now, her goal is to earn a fencing scholarship to Harvard and one day making it into the Olympics.
“I definitely like being off the beaten path and being unique,” Ruiz said. “The more unique you can be, the more stories you’ll have to tell.”
For Ruiz, fencing has become the perfect creative outlet. It allows for a break from everything else, and gives her a chance to focus on a singular task.
“It’s kind of like therapy, in a way,” she said. “It’s something I can focus on where I don’t have to worry about anything outside of here. I can just fence, and do what I love.”
Ruiz now will prepare for her most difficult challenge as a fencer. In the Junior Olympics, she will face a level of competition she hasn’t seen before. To succeed, she will have to maintain great focus over the two days of competition, one day being foil and the other being épée.
“When the mask goes down, it’s just me and my opponent,” she said. “It’s nothing else in the world that could matter until the referee calls halt.”
As she awaits the final days before competition, Ruiz will continue to fine-tune her technique at the Reno Silver Blades, where she serves not only as a student, but as a role model to the club’s younger students.
Though small, the Silver Blades are big on camaraderie and adopt many of the values of traditional martial arts. Korn, the president of the Silver Blades, provides a wealth of experience from his days fencing collegiately, nationally and internationally. The club has been in Reno since 1947.
“When I came in, they didn’t treat me as an outsider,” Ruiz said. “They treated me as family, and that’s what we are here.”