URI fencer off to unprecedented start

University of Rhode Island fencer Caitlin Stanton finished in third in “The Big One” tournament at Smith College.

Out of 56 participants Stanton was able to battle to third place in the senior women’s epee division, competing against fencers from schools all across the Northeast including MIT, UMASS, Boston College, Boston University and Dartmouth.

Stanton stormed through the competition beating Isabella Bushko of UMASS 15-11, Jessica Spear from Brandeis 15-4, Boston College’s Jamie Bang 15-7 and Madeleine Vibert also of Brandeis 15-10. Unfortunately Doreen Wu of Boston University ended her run to the top in a close-fought 15-13 match.

“‘The Big One’ tournament is the only individuals tournament that we compete in all year,” said fencer and head of media for the fencing club Lauren James. “Caitlin’s third place finish is one of the highest we have ever had.”

Stanton began fencing in the sixth grade while living in Georgia, but it was not the first sport she tried.

“I was in 6th grade and my parents were looking for an activity for me to do,” said Stanton. “ I tried soccer, dance and ice skating, but I wasn’t very good. So one day I brought home a flyer for fencing. My parents thought I would get bored of it after a few weeks, but those few weeks turned into 10 years.”

Over the next 10 years Stanton would continue with the sport she loves competing in tournaments all over the country, traveling to cities like Reno, Columbus, Atlanta and Anaheim for national tournaments.

“What I enjoy about fencing is it is one of those sports where it doesn’t matter what size you are,” said Stanton. “It’s not like basketball where tall people tend to do better, or wrestling where the bigger you are the better you will do. In fencing everyone has a chance.”

Stanton began her collegiate career on the Sacred Heart fencing team, but after two years took a one-year break from fencing, and transferred to the University of Rhode Island. Here she regained her love for the sport.

“At URI the atmosphere is just more relaxed,” said Stanton. “We have a mixed bag of people that really just want to help each other.”

Of course the addition of experienced fencers like Stanton has helped the club become more competitive in tournaments.

“We have a good mix of people,” said Lauren James. “We have new people that have just started, and others like Caitlin who have been doing this their entire lives, and it has definitely helped us get more competitive.”

Caitlin plans to graduate in 2020 with a degree in elementary education and Spanish, hoping to become a teacher. As for the URI fencing club, their next big tournament will be the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Championship on Feb. 24 at Mt. Holyoke College.