Freshman Jorge Rojas of the Stevens men’s fencing team has earned the right to represent his homeland of Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Junior Fencing Championships in Moscow. The competition will take place from March 31 through April 8 and feature more than 125 fencers from 57 countries.
During the 2011-12 collegiate season, Rojas was the only Division III foilist to make the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional final. He still competes in Puerto Rico as often as he can, and returned home earlier this month to fence two competitions. Rojas won the championship in one event and took second in the other, losing the title by just one touch.
“At that moment,” said Rojas, “They asked if I would go with the delegation to Moscow. Of course, I said yes. My personal goal has always been to represent Puerto Rico at a tournament of this scale.”
Rojas was on the Puerto Rican national team’s radar before he chose to study at Stevens, though it has been a challenge to maintain his position in the Puerto Rican rankings with his subsequent move to the mainland of the United States. With the prestigious Moscow event on the horizon, this success in his latest visit home was instrumental in securing a bid.
Only one other foil fencer from Puerto Rico will be making the trip, and the island will send a total of just three male fencers to the championship. Though it is too late for Rojas to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he has beaten some Puerto Rican fencers who will be competing at regionals for a bid to London this summer.
“Coming to the United States for school was a big help,” said Rojas. "Academically of course it was a good move, but in athletics it was a big help too. There are good fencers in Puerto Rico, but there aren’t very many. Here, there are more good fencers with many differing styles. Plus, being able to go to the New York training centers and fence with all the Olympians there has been very good practice."