Monday, May 05, 2008

2008 Southeast Sectionals

This past weekend was the Southeast Sectional Championships in Columbia, SC. It's the first year I've been to this type of event so I didn't have any particular expectations, though I did expect attendance to be higher. With seven states to pull from, there were only thirteen women in the senior epee event. I suppose it is largely due to the fact that Nationals are on the other side of the country this year and a lot of people, me included, have already written it off. Last year, with a much closer Summer Nationals, there were 23 competitors. Still, there were entire states which had no representation.

Regardless, the thirteen of us that did show up gave a good accounting of ourselves I think. I felt compelled to fence my very best all day without exception and I got to test myself against women that are As, Bs, and Cs which is one of the main reasons I wanted to go.

I was glad to be placed in the "big" pool of seven and I was feeling pretty good, despite having gotten up at 5 am. I had two coaches, my husband, and other cheerers-on to give me confidence and keep me relaxed. I tried my very best to exercise my mindsets and mantras as a means of remaining level and cool and the result was what I think may have been one of my very best pools ever. I was 4-2 with a +11 indicator. My losses were 5-4 and three of my wins where 5-1. My losses, to two very young, very fast girls, were both frustrating . At 4-4 I felt in both cases that I could have gotten the last touch. On the other side of the coin though, I am also proud of the fact that I even got to 4-4 because they were both very good fencers that I probably could not have hung with a couple months ago.

So, overall still happy and feeling good at the end of pools and I was surprised to see that I was seeded 4th. There were lots of upsets going on in both pools I think. In the first round DE I was up against a girl that I had beat in the pool 5-1, but I started the first round too cautious and slow and at the first break it was 10-6 for her. Thankfully, I had some good coaching at the break and at the end of the second period it was 13-11 for me. I grabbed my last two points pretty quickly with fast straight attacks in the third period. My coach told me he saw three completely different fencers in the three periods and I need to sit back and consider how to get rid of the first and be the second two more often.

I clung tightly to those second two fencers in the round of 8 when I was slated against the A who had beaten me in the pool. This girl is awesome - her attacks and hand movements were deadly fast, but I still felt like I could hang with her. I'm glad I had gotten to fence her in the pool and knew what to expect. I felt great in the beginning; never discount the great mental boost that you can give yourself by getting the first touch. After that the score stayed really tight - I think I led twice and scored on a fleche and a toe-touch - more mental boosts for me. At the break it was 12-11 for her, but I think the break was detrimental to me - giving me an entire minute to cogitate on the necessity of my getting single lights from here on out. I rejoined the fight with a sense of overwhelming imperative. I have to attack and I have to get the touch. Such was the weight of this thought upon my mind that I forgot pretty much everything else, including moving and actually attacking. So it was that the last three touches were scored in the manner that my coach has been warning me about for weeks. I got in the bubble and I stopped. And I lost 15-11.

My final placing was 6th because of another upset, but I'm cool with that. I feel like except for those last three touches of the last bout I fenced pretty awesomely. I also qualified for Div IA for the first time and was awarded a giant hunting knife which I will try to take a picture of and post. I'm a little scared of it. The top four got awesome samurai swords so that's my goal for next year.

This tournament, more than any before, has left me with a lot to think about. I've been reliving those last three touches all weekend. Also, the gold medalist was one of my 5-1 victories in the pools so I can't help but think what if I had been on the other side of the bracket and fought her in a DE? I guess the what-ifs keep it fun, keep me returning; no one likes to leave questions unanswered. Maybe I can answer them next year.


Anonymous said...

Huge! -KL

Anonymous said...

division 1? You earned a c? yes, huge. congrats from the cheap seats.

Tala said...

Nah, Div IA. There were only thirteen people, so it was still just a E1. I'm still an E08.