UCSD Hosts Annual “BladeRunner” Fencing Tournament


Connor Gorry / The Triton.

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The UC San Diego fencing team hosted the 22nd annual BladeRunner Tournament last weekend, featuring participants from various fencing clubs all over California, as well as a few clubs from outside the state.

The BladeRunner Tournament began in 1988. It was discontinued in 1996 and then revived in 2004. Since then, the event has grown significantly each year, with a total of 695 fencers registered this year in all 12 sections.

Like all fencing tournaments, the BladeRunner Tournament is divided into different pools based on gender, division, and fencing instrument. The junior division contains competitors under age 20, while the senior division is considered an “open” division, with all competitors above age 13 regardless of skill level. Fencing also has three different instruments: epee, foil, and saber. Each instrument differs in weight, with foil being the heaviest, and each section allows for different target points, whether it be the entire body or certain parts of the body.

The tournament is organized by a traditional two-round system. After the first round of competition, fencers are placed in a direct elimination bracket system based on their performance in the first round. In the second round, fencers compete until one fencer gains 15 points. Points are awarded if a hit is landed in an area that fits the requirement of the weapon. This cycle repeats until there is a winner.

The UCSD fencing team had first-place winners in both the Men’s Senior Epee and Men’s Senior Saber, as well as 16 other top ten finishers in the BladeRunner Tournament on November 4–5 in RIMAC Arena.

The Tritons held nine spots in the top ten in the men’s division. First year Zach Kravitz and third year Thejas Gulati finished first in the Men’s Senior Epee and the Men’s Senior Saber, respectively. Top finishers in the Men’s Senior Foil included first year Aiden Chu, who tied for third, fourth year David Hadler, who placed fifth, and first year Brandon Lee, who placed seventh. Lee also finished eighth in the Junior Foil.

Coincidentally, the Tritons also held nine spots in the top ten in the women’s division. Second year Taly Yukelson tied for third in the Junior Epee and placed seventh in the Senior Epee, while first yearn Emma Zmurk placed sixth and second year Amelia Harrison placed tenth in the Junior Epee.

“I think it went really well, as many of our fencers did really well on the days they were fencing and showed the strength of the team,” Yukelson said. “Our results showed the work that we put in every day of training and I’m super proud of everyone. I medaled both days that I competed, so I’m happy with my results as well, but it’s only preseason, so we still have time to work on any mistakes we made during the competition, myself included.”

Fencing at UCSD has had success in the past, with ten podium-winners in the West NCAA Regional in the last three years. In last year’s regional championship, Hadler placed second in Men’s Foil, and Yukelson won first in Women’s Epee.

“Last year we had a pretty strong season, especially with David and Taly’s All-American finishes at NCAA Division 1 National [Championship],” Gulati said. “We have a much larger team this year, with some really talented freshmen and a new focus on long-term development of a winning culture, so I️ hope that we will perform even better this year.”

The BladeRunner Tournament concludes Triton fencing competitions for 2017 season. The team’s next match is at the North American Cup in Virginia Beach, Virginia from January 5–8, 2018.

Cynthia Leung is a staff writer at The Triton.