By Sehyun Chung
The score is 13-13 with 15 seconds left on the clock. The referees have already established priority, which means if they end in a draw, his opponent would win. With time running out, he sprints across the strip and lands a point. Seven seconds left. His opponent retaliates and lands a hit of his own. 14-14, with just three seconds left. He lunges once again, and they both land touches simultaneously, but because it’s match point, the points won’t count. 0.92 seconds left. “En guarde, ready, fence.” He spins, extends, and lands a hit. The clock reads 0.00 seconds. He’s won with milliseconds to spare.
After this close victory against his long time rival, junior Steven Grams advanced to the top 8 of the North American Cup this past October in California. One of the more prestigious tournaments, the North American Cup includes 180 fencers from the U.S. and Canada. After his win, Grams beat two other top fencers to advance to the finals, where he lost to Howard Zhao, a fencer from China. Overall he finished second out of 180 fencers.
It all started when Grams began fencing in the seventh grade, when he lived in China. He was first introduced to the sport by a family friend who worked at the local fencing club. When he moved to Long Island in the summer before eighth grade, he joined the North Shore Fencing Club, which is coached by Marat Israelian. “Fencing there doesn’t feel like an obligation for me. I enjoy it because everyone at that club feels like family to me,” he said. Because he was among the younger athletes in his age group, it was difficult for him to finish in the top seeds in the past . As he grew older, however, his hard work and dedication resulted in him being named County Champ during his sophomore season with a perfect 21-0 record. His parents and coaches realized that he had talent and began registering him in major fencing tournaments around the region. His first major success came in Canada, his home country, when he placed third out of forty épée fencers. Fast forward to now, and Grams is ranked first in scoring in Canada. This means he, along with the second and third place fencers, will represent Canada in the Fencing World Cup held in Richmond, Canada. Grams said, “Although I hoped I could represent the U.S. in the World Cup, it’s still a huge honor for me to represent Canada and I’m going to give it my all.”