In the midst of a quarterfinal bout in the U.S. Division 1 Fencing Championships on April 13, Bowie native Amanda Sirico turned toward her coach on the sideline.
“I don’t know how I’m doing this, I’m so dead!” Sirico said, exhausted from eight time zones worth of travel just a day earlier, and surprised she was challenging 2012 Olympian Kelley Hurley in spite of it.
Two days earlier, Sirico anchored the U.S. junior (under 20) team at the Junior World Fencing Championships in Bulgaria and was the Americans’ highest finisher, losing in the quarterfinals. Shortly after helping the United States clinch a silver, she flew from Plovdiv, Bulgaria to Minneapolis for the Division I championships.
“We finished competing in Plovdiv at 5 p.m., and at 2:50 a.m. we had a bus to the airport,” Sirico said. “Then when we got to Minneapolis, I had to compete the next day, first thing in the morning. So I was pretty dead.”
In Minneapolis, she found herself competing against the older and more experienced Kelley and Courtney Hurley, 2012 Olympians and No. 1 and No. 2 in U.S. Fencing’s women’s senior point standings, respectively. She did more than just compete against Kelley, besting the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist before falling to younger sister Courtney in the semifinals.
In last year’s Division I championships, Sirico lost to Kelley Hurley, 15-5. This year, despite being nearly 10 years younger than Hurley, Sirico earned a 15-10 win.
“That was a huge improvement over last year,” said Sirico, who is fifth in the U.S. points standings and needs to finish in the top four to make the 2016 Olympic team. “I’ve always really looked up to [the Hurleys] because they’re amazing fencers, and being a part of the senior circuit, I’ve gotten to watch them fence a lot. So it’s really nice to know I can compete on their level and hold my own, even though I’m much younger and less experienced.”
Sirico grew up in fencing, as her parents Tommy and Cindy fenced for the University of Texas-El Paso. She fenced five years of foil before switching to epee for the past four but is still relatively inexperienced compared to older competitors such as the Hurleys. Cindy home-schools Sirico, who trains at the DC Fencers Club and travels globally for competitions. She’ll compete in Rio de Janeiro and Cuba in May.
“It’s great to travel, interesting to see places and get the opportunity to travel, but you’re there for a total of like four days and really only see the inside of the gym,” Sirico said. “If you do get to go out, it’s pretty minimal, so after a while you start to loathe the travel part. If you could just close your eyes and be there, that would be great.”
Sirico will fence for Notre Dame in the fall. The Fighting Irish finished the 2013-14 season ranked fourth nationally.
“I only looked at a couple schools and ended up only applying to Notre Dame,” Sirico said. “I really like the people there and the team, and all the people that are there in general — the coaches are great.”
While the 2016 Olympic team is the ultimate goal for Sirico, her more imminent aim is to earn a spot on the United States team at the 2014 Senior World Championships, which will be held in Kazan, Russia in July.
Here’s a 2013 PostTV video on Sirico’s quest for a spot on the 2016 Olympic squad:
Read more on Sirico’s Olympic fencing dreams here.