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Fayetteville Fencer, John Murray, Wins Gold In Greenville And Earns Rating

In the beginning of the fencing season, John
Murray, a 16 year old fencer from the All-American Fencing Academy, said,
“I want to earn a rating this year”. 
On Saturday, February 16, 2013, Murray walked off the strip at the East
Carolina University Fencing Tournament Open after winning his finals bout and
earned his “D” rating.

John Murray is a home school student and the
son of a retired Fort Bragg Soldier.  He started
fencing 3 years ago at the All-American Fencing Academy.

“I started fencing because I was curious
about it,” said Murray.  “I
like it because of the mental strategy combined with the physical, it’s not a
common sport.”

According the to the coaches at the
All-American Fencing Academy, that’s the reason many people try it in the first
place; fencing is different, and it’s like playing chess at a thousand miles
per hour.

“For some people, fencing comes
naturally, for others, it takes a lot of work like martial arts or ballet.  For Murray, he had both,” stated John
Page, Murray’s fencing coach.

“He’s now getting past tall, lanky and
all the aspect of becoming a teenager, and starting to develop some speed,
strength and creativity.”

In his determination to earn a rating this
season, Murray’s training went from 1 class per week to private lessons on
Monday, classes on Tuesdays, continuous open bouting and competitions on the
weekend.

The East Carolina University competition was
the first tournament that Murray attended without any teammates.

“I was excited about the tournament, but
nervous, because I didn’t have coaches or teammates to rely on.  I was completely on my own,” recalled
Murray.

The tournament featured two high rated
fencers from Chapel Hill, Zoe Loh from the North Carolina Fencing Development
Program and Eric Boros from the Chapel Hill Fencing Club.  Boros and Loh were both favored to win the
ECU tournament.

Coming out of the pools, Murray had only one
loss to Ryan Miller from the New Bern Fencing Club.  Loh left the pools with 2 losses, while Boros
went undefeated.

Boros’ undefeated record gave him the top
seed in the direct elimination rounds which pitted him against 8th seed Loh
early in the quarter finals.

The early face-off of the two highest rated
fencers, Boros and Loh, paved the road Murray to the finals as the 6th seed.

“I thought I could at least make it past
my second elimination, but once I was in the semi-finals, I told my dad that I
think I can win this whole thing,” said Murray.

Murray breezed through several elimination
bouts, winning definitively 15-2 and 15-7 agains New Bern and Pitt County
Fencers.  His bout against
UNC-Greensboro’s Jon Shelton was a close shave with a win of 15-13.

Meanwhile, Loh defeated Boros in the
quarterfinals and faced Charles Chow of Apex Fencing Academy in the
semi-finals.

Murray recalled, “I had already finished
my semi-finals, and I was watching Loh and Chow.  I would face whoever won that bout.”

“I had beaten Chow in the finals, so if
I had to face him I was pretty confident. 
Loh was going to be a challenge. 
She had a lot of experience and she beat Boros.”

Loh defeated Chow in the semi-finals.  The finals now featured the second highest
rated fencer in the tournament, Loh, against the unrated Murray.

Murray jumped the lead early against Loh in
the finals.

“I was using everything I had, doing
everything that Coach Page and I had been working on; I was scoring points so
many different ways,” said Murray.

According to the coaches at the All-American
Fencing Academy, a good fencer is someone that knows how to score a point
consistently 1-2 ways.  A great fencer
knows how to score a point consistently 5-6 different ways. 

It’s like having a basketball team that can
rebound, drive, shoot mid-range and have three-point shooters.  They have many ways of scoring.

Murray said, “When I had that lead, I
was really confident, but I was catious. 
When I was a touch away from winning, I didn’t want to mess up and give
Loh the opportunity to have a comeback.”

“When I hit that last touch, I was
happy, but I looked at the referee to confirm that I really did have the
winning point…but I don’t really show a lot of extreme emotion.”

 

The last touch that Murray used to win was
another skill that he had been working on with Coach Page.  It was the only time he used it during the
bout.

Earning a rating isn’t an easy feat for
fencers; fencers can’t take a test or be awarded for their hard work. Fencers
are rated from A being the highest to E being the lowest or unrated.  Becoming a rated fencer comes down to
winning.  You have to outright win the
tournament or place in the top 8 of a highly rated tournament.

Normally, as fencers get better and compete
more often, they earn their rating progressively from unrated, to E, to D, and
so forth.

“Murray skipped straight to his D rating
at this tournament because he beat a C rated fencer, if he keeps up this level
of competition, we’re confident that he’ll have his C rating by the end of the
season.”