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Fencing: Judges excel at Olympic qualifier for 2012

By Adam Rabinowitz
On April 23, 2012

  • Foilist Julian Cardillo (left) is exposed against Gerek Meinhardt in a second-round match at a 2012 Summer Olympics qualifier event in Virginia Beach, Va. Courtesy of Julian Cardillo

Brandeis fencers served some justice at the Olympic Games qualifying trials in Virginia City, Va. on April 13 and 14.

After two consecutive trips to the Games, sabreist Tim Morehouse '00 cruised to a second-place finish to secure a trip to the London Olympics this summer. He finished only behind national teammate James Williams. Foilist Julian Cardillo '14, however, made quite the statement, falling just short of packing his bags for the United Kingdom at 19 years old.

After stringing together five straight wins in the first and second rounds of the match, Cardillo fell in a 15-7 loss to foilist Gerek Meinhardt. However, he can take pride in the fact that he is now the 11th-ranked fencer in the United States and will represent America at the World Cup in Havana this June.

Cardillo faced a reality check in the beginning stages of the trials, losing two out of his first three matches.

He was defeated in consecutive 5-1 losses by Miles Chamley-Watson, who qualified for the Olympics, and Robert Nunziato, who also qualified and finished third in the tournament.

Cardillo, however, said that he quickly found his comfort zone after approaching the matches from a different perspective.

"I started fencing not my best, but I started to get comfortable and I started playing my game," he said. "I was ranked 13th after the first round, and I just came out with a different mindset in the second round."

His match with Robbie Moore, a top fencer from Ohio State University, proved to be the turning point. Cardillo immediately faced a 6-1 hole but then clawed back to force a tie.

However, the parity would not last for long. He once again was down by 12-8, but this time, Cardillo was able to pull through with a 15-13 victory.

"It was kind of an elusive match in the sense that I was always down," he said. "But me (sic) and my coach worked on a strategy to settle down and find a tactic that worked."

From there, it was smooth sailing. Cardillo earned a hard-fought 15-9 win, his first, against Michael El-Saleh from Pennsylvania State University. While he fell short in a 15-7 loss to Meinhardt, Cardillo was impressed with his effort over the day.

"I ended up losing to Gerek 15-7, which is pretty respectable," he said. "I was very happy with how I fenced him, in addition to how I fenced the entire day. This was my best result ever, and there I was, standing on the podium with seven other fantastic fencers."

After placing in 8th at the championships, Cardillo reveled in his accomplishment.

"I feel that I had gotten to the next level and that there was nowhere to go but up," he said.

It was business as usual for Morehouse, though. After finishing 22nd in individual competition in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he is ready to repeat the effort in London.

Morehouse was also prepared to defend his title at the national championships, winning in both 2010 and 2011.

Although he performed especially well against many Olympians, he lost to Williams in a hard-fought match in the final round, earning a silver medal in the tournament.

"I was hoping for my third title in a row, but it was still an incredibly strong effort, and it definitely helped me in preparing for this summer," he said.

Now that Morehouse has been formally announced as a member of the 2012 Olympic team, he faces an extensive training regimen before traveling to London this June.

However, he knows it is all for that elusive gold medal - one the United States has failed to earn.

"I've been competing for a while in preparing for London," he said. "The training is similar - we know the feel and now we can start to prepare for facing the top fencers in the world."

Before the Olympics, Morehouse will host the Fencing Masters Tournament in New York on June 26.

He also has just released his memoir, American Fencer: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Sport, detailing his experiences in fencing both at Brandeis and on the national level.


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