Saturday, November 03, 2007

Gold and Bronze

Gold and Bronze.

Those were the medals Dawn ended up wearing around her neck as the champion of the Women's Sabre division in the 2007 Cumberland Open.

This tourney is sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Fencing Club, one of many NCAA colleges who offer fencing either as a full fledged scholarship sport or a club sport. Since 1990 the NCAA has conducted a championship tournament for the schools that have fencing programs with Penn State winning their tenth team title last spring.

This was an open tournament, which means that women and men compete with each other under USFC regulations from ages 13 and up in the various disciplines (foil, epee and sabre). You also have people ranging from unranked novices to veteran's division fencers. Since the men tend to dominate these open events, the top three women's finshers get medals as well. That's how Dawn ended up with two medals.

Since Dawn just passed her milestone birthday, she's now old enough to participate in the USFA Veterans Division. She's already run into various veteran fencers at different tournaments over the last four years and they are looking forward to having her at some of their events. She's already looking forward to competing in her first Veterans competition on December 7 in Richmond, VA.

But back to the trip. Since I'm the night owl, I was going to be doing the driving on this one. On some of the trips I've taken with AC and Dawn I've been the passenger because they love and either currently own or in the past have owned cars with stick shifts. I'm an automatic kind of girl and despise driving a stick. They've been trying to teach me with limited success how to drive a stick since I've driven or ridden as much of the US interstate highway system as they have.

I was loving the fact that they just jacked the speed limit in Kentucky to 70 MPH to match all of the surrounding states in July. The other thing they did that month was name I-65 in Jefferson County the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Expressway from the Indiana-Kentucky line to the Bullitt county line. From that point to the Tennessee state line, since I-65 passes near Lincoln's birthplace in LaRue County, it's designated the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Expressway in honor of the bicentennial of his birth next year. Signs designating it are posted at the county lines along I-65 in Bullitt, Hardin, LaRue, Hart, Barren, Edmonson, Warren and Simpson counties

We shoved off at 5 AM EDT and made a gas stop in Shepherdsville, KY near one of my fave places, the Shoe warehouse. I inherited my mom's shoe gene and love my heels. Once I topped off the tank, I was determined to not stop until we got to Bowling Green, KY which would put us about 30 miles from the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Interestingly enough Louisville and most of Kentucky is in the Eastern time zone while western Kentucky is on Central Time. You end up in the Central time zone once you cross over into Hart County on the southern half of I-65 near the Mammoth Cave area.

It's a beautiful stretch of highway, but I wasn't going to see it because we were still traveling in darkness. My major concerns were getting Dawn to the Student Rec Center on Vandy's campus before the 8:45 AM CDT start time of the sabre portion of the tournament and not hitting any deer.

AC still has bitter memories of a 2002 deer strike on I-77 south near Weston, WV that totalled a Grand Am he'd spent several months restoring. When we go to Washington DC either me or Dawn drives that winding stretch of interstate between Charleston and Morgantown and he will not drive that stretch at night.

Speaking of AC, he wasn't along for the ride on this one. He and his wife are headed west on I-70 as I write this to Lawrence, KS to see Susan's (I kid you not) 80 year old Aunt Dorothy. And no, her Aunt Dorothy doesn't have a dog named Toto.

I was feeling good and still wide awake when we passed the Corvette Museum on the outskirts of Bowling Green and decided to in the words of Curtis Mayfield, to keep on pushing until we got to Nashville, which is only 30 miles from the Tennessee-Kentucky border in central Tennessee.

After running the 55 MPH construction gauntlet in Simpson County for a few miles I found myself clear of it and on a freshly opened reconstructed stretch of six lane highway at mile marker 4 that continued to the Tennessee side. The I-65 construction was also done on the Tennessee side to my relief as well.

A few minutes later the towers of downtown Nashville were looming in the distance. One of the confusing parts of travel for peeps who drive the interstate highways intersecting in Nashville (I-24, I-40 and I-65) is that there's a inner loop around the downtown area that is multiplexed. If you're coming from Louisville like we are, for two miles you're on I-24/65 and there's a split that will take you either to I-24/40 or I-65/40 west. To get to Vandy I had to take I-65/40 west. After you cross the Cumberland River on that section there's another split that takes you to the westbound portion of I-40 and Memphis and you find yourself immediately after that split on I-65/40 EAST. I've done it numerous times since I've moved here so I'm used to it, but it did trip up a few peeps on the way to the Vanderbilt campus.

We finally arrived at Vanderbilt after grabbing breakfast near the campus on West End Blvd. We were parked and waiting at 7:40 AM CDT along with several fencers for the student staff and the VUFC members to arrive to open the facility.

The sabre portion of the 2007 Cumberland Open started with 17 competitors at 9:15 AM. I knew this trip was going to be different from the Chicago one. She went up against the VUFC club champ Chris Cheney and gave him a battle before losing a tight match 5-4. She ended up 3-2 in her pool and when the DE rankings and direct elimination brackets were posted a few minutes later Dawn was in the top 5.

She blew through her first two DE matches 15-0 and 15-6 before her rematch in the semifinals with VUFC's Travis Reece. Reece was in her pool and she lost another tough 5-4 match with him. Reece was also the runner-up to Chris Cheney in the VUFC club championship.

Dawn was beating him until disaster struck. While contesting a point she had guard to guard contact hard enough to jam and temporarily dislocate her wrist. She popped it back in place and was eligible for a ten minute injury time out to get it iced and wrapped. But after six minutes she notified the official (called directors in fencing parlance) that she was ready to continue. She scored the next three points in rapid succession to take an 11-7 lead but ended up losing the semifinal match 15-12.

Because fencer Linda Dunn of Indianapolis was beaten by Chris Cheney in her second DE match, Dawn ended up with the women's gold medal. I jokingly call Linda an unofficial LFC member even though she fences for Indysabre. We see Linda at a lot of Great Lakes region and Kentucky Division events. Linda is also an accomplished professional writer.

Dawn took the bronze medal by finishing third overall in this tournament. There was other good news for her as well. Because of her deep run in this tournament, she is now an E ranked fencer. Had she beaten Travis Reece she would have walked out of this tournament with a D rating.

The injury also impacted my plans for the return trip home. I work third shift, so I was way past my bedtime and wanted to get a nap in. There was no way I was letting her drive with a bandaged hand so I had to drive us back home. Sleep was going to have to wait until we got back to Da Ville. After watching the championship sabre bout (congrats to Chris Cheney), the medal ceremony and refueling the ride, I drained two Vaults to give me enough of a caffeine buzz for the return trip north on this crystal clear 65 degree fall afternoon.

We started rolling about 1 PM CDT Nashville time. The way Dawn was feeling she could've floated back to Louisville. My homegirl was a happy camper with two medals around her neck. As I enjoyed the fall color and concentrated on the road Dawn picked up her cell phone and excitedly recounted her triumphant experience in Nashville to Maestro Stawicki and her LFC teammates. (head coaches of fencing programs are sometimes called maestros). We got back home a little after 4 PM EDT and I trudged straight up to my room for a long nap after offloading Dawn's gear and bringing it in the house.

My mission was accomplished as well. I got myself and the wounded sabre warrior home in one piece. Look out vets, she's coming to a sabre strip near you.


Jackie said...

WOOHOO!!!! Congrats To Dawn! WOW!
Next time you and the Sabre Warrior are near Chi I wanna come to the match.
As a kid fencing is one of those things I never did but wanted to. It's a great sport that uses every part of your body including your mind to the fullest. So I know what an accomplishment it is to even be competitive in fencing. Wow!

Driving a stick? What's up with that? I'm with you girlfriend. Give me automatic everything.
Again, CONGRATS to Dawn on her Gold and Bronze. Fantastic!

Monica Roberts said...

You'll probably get that chance.

She's planning on coming back for the Remenyik Open next year and I think there may be a veterans event in Chcago as well.

In the meantime just check for some tournaments in the Chicago area.


Monica Roberts said...

By the way Jackie and Ms Deux,
It's not too late for either one of you or anybody else to learn how to fence.

They want more African-Americnas involved in the sport (LFC's trying to get me to do more than just spectate) and you can find a nearby fencing club on the USFA website.

Mes Deux Cents said...


I might do that, I saw a fencing club in my area a few years ago. I'm going to check to see if it's still there.

Monica Roberts said...

Keep me posted if you do.