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Bothell teen from Issaquah club is national fencing champion
Bothell High School sophomore Matthew Comes couldn’t find a sport he enjoyed until he tried a fencing camp at the local YMCA.
“I enjoyed it immediately,” he said. “I have never been much of a ‘team player.’ I really like to do things individually and to challenge myself.”
Comes has fenced ever since and this month he took home the gold medal in the Men’s Division III Epee competition at the USA Fencing National Championships in Ohio. Comes represented Issaquah’s Washington Fencing Academy and competing in his third national championship, starting the day seeded third overall out of 125 fencers from around the country.
“I started the day off feeling really good and was really excited to be there,” Comes said. “Winning felt pretty cool.”
The standard format for the event is a pool round followed by a direct elimination bracket. Comes swept his pool bouts going 6-0, placing as the fourth seed going into the direct elimination round. Fencing at the top of his game, Comes earned a bye in the round of 128, automatically advancing to the round of 64. From there, he went on to handily beat his first three opponents to advance to the top eight. Facing-off against some of the strongest fencers of the day, he won his next two rounds to reach the National finals for the first time in his four year fencing career.
During the final round, Comes fought a tough opponent in Andrew Pidhorodeckyj, a fencer from northern Ohio with seven years experience. After some initial back-and-forth touches, Comes began opening a bigger point margin, winning the final 15-9.
“I felt really proud watching him,” said John Comes, Matthew’s father. “He has such an extraordinary work ethic and he more than earned it.”
Comes has also earned national points at the Junior Olympics earlier this year in Portland, Ore., and competed in four more events this month at the National Championships. The USA Fencing Summer National Championships is the largest fencing tournament in the world, with nearly 90 events and 8000 fencers taking place over nearly two weeks of competition.
“His coaches say Matthew was built for fencing as he is tall, lean and fast,” John said. “I really believe he will go far.”
Comes also maintains a 4.0 grade point average, plays the trumpet and strives to represent the USA at the Olympic Games in 2020.