More than 700 collegiate athletes are ready to parry their way to victory at the United States Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs (USACFC) 12th Annual National Championship at the Knoxville Convention Center, April 5-6.

The USACFC competition is the country’s largest annual collegiate fencing competition with teams from 40 colleges and universities participating, including the University of Tennessee Fencing Club.

“The USACFC is made up of non-NCAA collegiate fencing teams and was created because club teams didn’t have a national championship,” said Scott Tundermann, president of USACFC.  “Club teams train just as hard and are very competitive. This competition is an opportunity for club teams to show off. It helps foster the smaller clubs to grow and is a competitive opportunity for the stronger teams.”

The competitive events are divided by gender with women’s events taking place in the mornings and men’s events in the afternoons.

The championship encompasses three different types of competitive events named for the weapons used: foil, sabre and epee. There are 18 athletes on each collegiate team - three women and three men per weapon specialty. Athletes compete for both individual and team awards.

In the past, the organization has been hosted at universities, but organizers chose to move to the Knoxville Convention Center after the competition grew too large for most universities to be able to accommodate its size.

“The facility seemed like a great place with the campus right there on the riverfront,” said Tundermann. “We made sure that we had local folks in Knoxville to help us, and we’re bringing in more referees and officials than ever before. I think it’s going to be a great place for us.”

The event is free and open to the public. Spectators are encouraged to watch the events and cheer on their favorite team, as well as learn more about the sport of fencing. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, and Sunday, April 6.

“There is a wide range of skill levels. From those who first learned to fence this year and it’s their first event, to national level competitors. It’s a broad cross section of the fencing world,” said Tundermann. “This competition would be a great introduction to the sport, and there’s fencing available in Knoxville besides at the university. It’s a sport that people can take up at any point in their life.”

The USACFC enlisted Brandon Rochelle and Joshua Mertz with Smoky Mountain Fencing, a recreational club based in Knoxville, to help with the organization of the event.

The Knoxville Convention Center, managed by SMG, is located in downtown Knoxville adjacent to the Sunsphere. It boasts a 120,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 27,000-square-foot divisible ballroom and up to 25 meeting rooms. For more information, visit

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