SALT LAKE CITY, UT - Salt Lake City, Utah kicked off the first national fencing tournament of the New Year. The city most known for its beautiful mountains, ski resorts, and hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic Games was host to a Summer Olympic sport, where fencers from all over the United States, as well as Canada, Philippines, Mexico, Hong Kong, Great Britain, Spain, Dominican Republic and Croatia were in attendance.

Fifteen-year-old Martha Merriam of Tenafly and sixteen-year-old Olivia Szumilo of Staten Island competed in the Junior (Under 20) and Senior (Open) events; which included 5 World Champions, 3 NCAA Champions and several National Champions. In the senior event both girls earned a tough and well-respected top 32 finishes. Szumilo placed 25th after being defeated by Lena Johnson of Columbia University. Merriam lost a close battle to former World Champion and current World number 1 Sage Palmedo. After a head to head match tied at 12, Palmedo’s experience took over as she defeat Merriam 15-12.

In the junior event the two young fencers shined bright. Merriam went a perfect 6-0 in the first round earning her a 4th place seeding going into direct elimination, while Szumilo went 4-2 and earning a 24th place seeding. Olivia would go on to finish 14th after being defeated by Edith Johnson of Georgia. Martha Merriam kept up her momentum as she defeated last year’s Junior Olympic Champion Malia Hee 15-12 to earn herself a spot in the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, Merriam drew former World Champion and current Harvard NCAA Champion Adrienne Jarocki. Merriam’s momentum didn’t prove to be enough to knock of the eventual winner and sending Martha home with a bronze medal.

Olivia and Martha train at the Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy in Garwood, New Jersey located at 110 South Avenue. They are trained by multiple time National Champion and National Team Member Aleksander Ochocki along with former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerome Guth; who won the 2014 NCAA Team Championship. For more information about the club visit www.affafencing.com.