by Emily Bary ’14
co-Editor In Chief
It’s hard to believe that Jessica Guo ’17, who finished 20-4 in the fencing team’s Nov. 10 meet with the best record on the team, only started fencing foil a month ago. Guo switched from épée to foil when she joined Wellesley’s fencing team, so she’s been working with her coaches to learn a new weapon.
She’s a welcome addition to the Blue’s foil squad, which lagged behind the épée and sabre squads last season. Now Wellesley’s foil fencers are arguably the best performers, helping Blue fencing get off to a good start in its first three meets of the season.
At 5’2’’, Guo is unimposing and soft-spoken, but she took some time to talk with me about her switch to a new weapon and her decision to join Blue fencing. Excerpts of our conversation follow.
Emily Bary (E.B.): How long have you been fencing?
Jessica Guo (J.G.): This is my third year.
E.B.: Why did you start?
J.G.: My sister did a summer camp for it and I thought it would be fun to try.
E.B.: Why did you decide to fence at Wellesley?
J.G.: I really liked fencing and I wanted to continue it in college.
E.B.: Have you always done foil?
J.G.: No, I just switched to foil a month ago.
E.B.: Why’d that happen?
J.G.: They didn’t have enough foil fencers on the team. It’s transitioned better than expected because it’s pretty hard to switch between all the weapons. Your brain has to make the switch.
E.B.: What’s been the biggest challenge?
J.G.: In épée, there’s no priority, while in foil and sabre there is. If you’re starting to attack first, you get the point unless someone blocks you, but in épée you just charge whenever and it doesn’t matter.
E.B.: How has the transition to college fencing been? Is the competition tougher?
J.G.: It’s gone surprisingly well. I never fenced foil in competitions but it’s pretty similar.
E.B.: What’s it like doing an individual sport in a team setting?
J.G.: It can be stressful and sometimes I get really anxious when I get on the strip.
E.B.: What’s a typical practice like?
J.G.: We warm up first and then we just bout.
E.B.: Do you do any conditioning or lifting? Had you done it before college?
J.G.: Yeah, we do lifting twice a week. In the summer I started lifting but not geared toward fencing. My friends signed up for a gym membership but only wanted to take the Zumba classes, so I had to hang out with my guy friends and do their workouts, which were brutal.
E.B.: What are you goals for the season?
J.G.: I’d like to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
E.B.: What do you do to get ready before a big meet?
J.G.: I just zone out. I don’t like people cheering for me. I like cheering for other people but I just keep to myself.
Wellesley boasts a tough squad this year, with a number of talented veteran fencers and some promising newcomers like Guo. Look for the team to build off its initial success and continue to post strong showings in New England Conference competition.