Fencing July Challenge 2015Yesterday, USFA announced a significant change to the qualification rules for the new July Challenge for juniors and cadets, which will allow more fencers to qualify and compete. We have had several rule changes this year with respect to qualifying for Fencing Summer Nationals; they have been a bit confusing at times and also disappointing to some. However, the latest update from USFA is good news for those fencers who aren’t sure if they will qualify for the July Challenge competition, and therefore not be able to compete at Summer Nationals. Your chances just got a little better.

To see the original rule change, read this post. USFA replaced the July NAC with a new competition that has a tough qualification path. The event it replaced did not require qualification, so the update threw many of us for a loop as it made it very difficult for juniors and cadets to qualify for Summer Nationals.

The fencing community responded with a strong message to USFA that we wanted something to be changed, came together at online forums, particularly at Fencing.net, and it seems that USFA listened and updated the rules.

Here are the changes:

Juniors can now qualify if in top 75% of the Cadet National Rolling Point Standings (NRPS) (up from 50%) OR in the top 80% of finishers in the upcoming Junior Olympics Championship (new rule, only for 2015 competition).

Cadets can now qualify if in top 80% of the Cadet NRPS OR in the top 80% of the finishers in the upcoming Junior Olympics Championship (both new rules, only for 2015 competition).

You can review the full rules on USFA’s website here. The changes were also announced on USFA’s site and can be found here. Note that certain rules are only applicable this year and will change again in 2016 to allow qualification through RJCCs—at least that’s USFA’s current plan.

We are happy to know that more fencers will be able to participate in the July Challenge, but you still need to qualify! As we approach JOs, remember that every touch counts and that you can qualify to fence at Summer Nationals if you place in the top 80%.

You only have one more day to register for the JOs (deadline is today, Wednesday, January 14). If you are qualified to attend the Junior Olympic Championship but are on the fence about attending, you should really try to go! With more options to qualify for the July Challenge, your participation in this event could be the difference that gets you to Summer Nationals in San Jose.

This change is also good news that it shows that fencing community can come together and impact USFA’s decisions. Of course, we’d love to also see some other ways to qualify! Perhaps Divisional Qualifiers like they currently have for Y14, Div2, and Div3? Maybe someday …

As always, we welcome discussion below if you have questions or clarification points to add.