The reason is that unlike all other categories the qualifying path works slightly differently. The major difference is cadet/junior season.
Cadet/Junior season is not aligned with USFA fencing season and spans from Junior Olympics of the current year till Junior Olympics of the next year and coincides with International Cadet/Junior age definition.
For cadets and juniors there are two major national level tournaments that require qualification:
- Junior Olympics Championship, held during the President Week Weekend in middle of February (this season February 17-20, 2017 in Kansas City, MO)
- July Challenge, held as part of the Summer Nationals in late June, early July (this season July 1-10, 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT)
Let’s see how to qualify for each one of these events.
Qualifying Path for Junior Olympics
There are 3 qualifying paths for JO’s:
- National Points
- Regional Path
- Divisional Qualifiers
National points is the hardest way to qualify, since it means that your fencer is quite good on the national level at national competitions. To learn what national points are, how to get them and how they are calculated, refer to this post.
Another way to qualify is via Divisional qualifier. Every USFA fencing division holds its qualifiers few weeks before the JO’s regular fee deadline, which is January 10, 2017 for this season (and typically it is around that day in every season, which is about 6 week prior to the JO’s themselves).
Divisional qualifier is a binary event – you either qualified via it or you don’t. There is no second chance to it. This path is also easy to understand – you just go to this tournament and based on your results organizers will typically tell you whether you qualified or not (i.e., top 25% are qualified). Quite simple.
The most complicated path is regional, which is a new addition to the qualifying events starting from the last season. We wrote in details what is RJCC and how to qualify via it – read this post
However, in addition to the previous rule of being in top 25% in your regional list, this year USFA introduced a new condition of earning 110 points. And that’s great news for fencers!
This absolute number of points to qualify for JO’s might make a big difference for some fencers. The reason is quite simple – once you earned 110 points you should stop worrying where you are relative to other fencers in your region. You don’t need to go to additional RJCC to improve your result and you can save this money and time for other purposes.
Check your regional point standing here: http://www.usfencing.org/page/show/2292457-regional
If your fencer however did not accrued 110 points yet and you are not certain whether they will maintain top 25% position until the last RJCC in your region is over, check which your region’s RJCC are still going to be held until January 10 and try to attend.
Qualifying Path for July Challenge
Similar to additional criteria for JO’s USFA also added a new rule for July Challenge, and it is if a fencer earned 65 points or if they are in top 50% of their region then he/she is qualified for the July Challenge.
Why relief in the criteria for the July Challenge versus JO’s?
I have two explanations – first, JO’s is a championship while July Challenge is a Cup, and thus JO’s are more strict. Second, there is a whole year to qualify for the JO’s via RJCC path while there are only few months to qualify for the July Challenge, and thus less opportunities to improve the points.
Which brings me to the last point, which is very important.
After January 10 all RJCC points will be wiped out and the season will start over until the next year JO’s. Not only that – cadets and juniors change their age eligibility for the sake of July Challenge.
For example, if for upcoming JO’s cadet age is 2000-2003 and junior age is 1997-2003, for July Challenge the oldest guys age out of their group and cadets become to be 2001-2004, while juniors are 1998-2004.
Bottom line – check your fencer’s regional points standing and based on where they are decide if and which RJCC’s you would like to attend to improve your fencer’s chance to qualify for either JO’s or July Challenge.