Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News
Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 | 5:21 p.m.
They have competed against the best from the state, and now they'll compete against the best in the country.
Twelve Southern Nevada fencers have qualified for the Junior Olympics Feb. 13 to 16 in Albuquerque. Nine of the fencers earned spots through a state qualifier tournament Dec. 7 at Red Red Rock Fencing Center. The final three — Dakota Root, Nik-Nik Ameli and Kian Ameli — were automatic qualifiers based on their national rank.
Kian Ameli, a senior at Palo Verde who is headed to Stanford on a fencing scholarship, said Junior Olympics is one of the top two fencing tournaments each year.
"On national circuit tournaments, usually there will be a few competitors who don't show up, but at Junior Olympics, everyone is there," Kian Ameli said. "It gives the event much more clout as far as being important just because all the top fencers are there for it."
The event is the final opportunity for fencers to improve their rank before the Junior World Championships, typically held each April.
"There is a always a sense of urgency, a lot of motivation to do well at Junior Olympics, beyond just for the sake of doing well," said Kian Ameli, who will compete in the under 20 epee.
Last year, he finished 15th out of 233 competitors in the event. His sister, Nik-Nik Ameli, will compete in the under 20 and under 17 women's epee events, as will Root. All three fencers are from the Fencing Academy of Nevada in Summerlin.
Other fencers to qualify from that club include Alec Brown, Dylan Brown, Christian McNamara, Thomas Schumacher and Narayan Pathi.
Four competitors from the Red Rock Fencing Center qualified as well, including Mariah Eppes, Austin Harper, Everett Hilke.
Fencers from Nevada's three fencing clubs, including Reno Silver Blades, gathered for the state qualifier last month. The top few finishers in each category, depending on how many participants entered, qualified for Junior Olympics.
Dylan Brown won a gold medal in the under 17 men's foil and under 20 men's foil at the qualifier.
"It was fun to get all the clubs in the state together," Dylan Brown said. "It's cool win a medal for best in the state, but since Nevada doesn't have a ton of fencers, it would be even better to do something in the national standings."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].