St. John’s senior fencer Isis Washington had a storybook ending to her collegiate career at the NCAA National Championships in Ohio on March 22. Washington took home the women’s national title in the epee competition and led her team to finish sixth place in the country.
Washington became the 22nd national champion in St. John’s history after she dominated New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Julia Garcia with a score of 15-6 in the epee final to take home the gold medal. With her national championship, she was also awarded All-American honors.
Going into the Championships, Washington was not feling the nerves that many fencers may be subject to, and she said that she felt confident in her chances to take home a medal. “I knew I could win, but I just wanted to take in one bout at a time,” she said in an email on Monday.
The road to this point in Washington’s fencing career began at the relatively young age of 14 at the Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York City, although it wasn’t entirely her own choice at first.
“My sister started there and then my parents just made me go,” she said, “I wound up having some natural ability.”
That natural ability began to develop quickly for Washington and she began to realize earlier in her career that she had what it takes to compete collegiately. She was named to the All-New Jersey First Team in 2010, and would eventually lead the Peter Westbrook team to a bronze medal at the 2011 Junior Olympics.
“I was getting better really fast and my results were improving, so I knew I could fence in college for sure,” Washington said.
Eventually Washington, a Parsippany, N.J.-native, would choose to attend St. John’s so that she could stay in the Metropolitan area. She had also been considering Columbia, Ohio State and Temple.
After her St. John’s career began in late 2011, she says that her proudest moment prior to winning a national championship was her performance at the NYU and St. John’s Invitationals on back-to-back days last January.
“I only lost two bouts out of 30,” she said. “That was fun and just building with my team. They are like family now.”
However that moment falls short in comparison to how Washington felt after being crowned a national champion last month, which is a feeling that she is still having trouble putting into words. “I still don’t believe it,” she said. “It was unreal.”
Now that her collegiate career has wrapped up, Washington said that she plans on competing in the USA Fencing National Championships in San Jose, Calif. at the end of June.
After she graduates from St. John’s, she plans on continuing to fence competitively, but also said that she expects to attend law school in 2016.