Pine fencer Hardman makes his point at Michigan competition

Saturday, November 18, 2017 | 7:51 PM

For the past few years, Pine resident Harry Hardman has been making a name for himself in the local community for the sport of fencing.

But at the Underground Fencing Organization's “Pools to Pools to Pools” Senior Mixed Foil competition Nov. 4, in Livonia, Mich., the Aquinas Academy junior did even more to raise his profile in his sport.

Against top-tier international and collegiate competition, Hardman earned a bout record of 17-1 on his way to claiming the gold medal. As a result of his victory, Hardman has earned a U.S. Fencing Association “C” rating, which will allow him to be eligible in Division I North American Cup competitions.

“I was very proud. It took me a long time to earn this rating. I've fallen short at a few competitions earlier this year where I had lost by a very close score. Had I won an extra bout, I would have moved up a rating,” Hardman said. “But I felt very satisfied with achieving that, it was a goal for me.”

The accolades are nothing new for Hardman, who was named a 2016-17 Academic First Team All-American and USA Fencing high school second-team All-American for his efforts last season at Aquinas Academy.

However, the milestone he achieved at the UFO competition unlocks another wave of tournaments Hardman would like to compete in as he tries to reach his ultimate goals: To fence at the collegiate level and try out for the Olympic team in due time.

“My dream is to compete in the Olympics one day so in order to achieve that, the easiest path to make it is to attend a Division I university and train there for a few years in order to get instruction from high-level coaches,” Hardman said. “So that's my goal, to make a Division I team and hopefully get a shot at the Olympics.”

While Hardman's goals are lofty, John Carroll, who coaches the Aquinas Academy fencing team that did not exist before Hardman petitioned the school to create one, said he sees a lot of positive qualities and abilities in his team's captain.

“I would say Harry is a dedicated athlete. There's no question about it. He's pretty dominant in Western Pennsylvania,” Carroll said.

“He's passionate about the sport, and I would say that he's mentally tough. If he's down a few points in a match, he typically can buckle down and focus and turn it around. I think that's the mark of someone that can really succeed not just in fencing, but in life in general.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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