St. George youth ‘advances’ at national fencing competition

St. George resident Caidan Cooper competes at the USA Fencing National Championships, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 10, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kimberly Cooper, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Caidan Cooper, an 11-year-old from St. George, earned the opportunity to represent Southern Utah and his fencing club, the Utah Fencing Academy, at the USA Fencing National Championships Monday in Salt Lake City.

The competition, which takes place over the course of 10 days, featured approximately 6,000 fencers ranging in age from 10 to over 70 years old competing in three fencing disciplines: epee, foil and saber. The 2017 event runs July 1-10.

St. George resident Caidan Cooper competes at the USA Fencing National Championships, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 10, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kimberly Cooper, St. George News

It is a huge competition, said Cooper’s coach, Parker Miner, and Cooper is the only fencer from Southern Utah to qualify to attend. Cooper qualified at a sanctioned regional event held in northern Utah in January, a press release about the event said.

Cooper is competing in the Youth 12 group. There are 212 boys in his competition level.

Cooper started fencing a year and a half ago and has quickly progressed in the sport, Miner said.

“Being left-handed and having great hand-eye coordination is a nice advantage for Caidan,” Miner said in a press release, “but he’s also been really focused during practice and applied every technique I’ve taught him. He’s improved tremendously in these last weeks of training.”

Miner is no stranger to competition. He was the 2003 Junior Olympic Champion and the 2003 North American Cup Champion, and he has coached a national champion medalist and four state fencing champions. Miner also owns and operates the Utah Fencing Academy.

This is Cooper’s first national-level competition, and he and his coach hope that it will be a positive learning experience for him.

“(Caidan) is at the competition to learn as much as he can and win a little too,” Miner said.

Cooper said he wishes that everyone enjoyed fencing as much as he does, comparing it to one of his other favorite pastimes.

“I wish more people knew how much fun fencing is. It’s like chess but on major steroids,” Cooper said.

At the time of this report, Cooper had qualified in the middle of his age group at the national competition Monday and was headed for the next round.

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