Mateo Wilkins, Rochester’s top fencer, finally gets a tournament on home turf
The Youth Enrichment League hosted the first Minnesota High School Fencing Tournament in Rochester on Saturday, Feb. 4.
ROCHESTER — Mateo Wilkins had at least an hour and a half long drive to the Minneapolis area any time he wanted to fence in an official tournament.
Other times, the chance to face talented fencing opponents required even longer trips to Chicago or St. Louis.
Not on Saturday, though.
Wilkins, a senior at John Marshall High School, was one of over 180 fencers registered for Cupid’s Arrow, the first Minnesota High School Fencing Tournament held in Rochester at the Mayo Civic Center. It had a full slate of events, including men’s and women’s foil, epee and saber.
The tournament acted as a qualifier for the Minnesota High School Championships, which will be held Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, 2023, at The Blake School in Hopkins, Minnesota.
Wilkins, understandably, had one goal in mind Saturday: winning.
He picked up the No. 1 seed but placed second in the men’s foil event.
Wilkins isn’t a stranger to success in fencing. He’s competed in the Junior Olympics twice, and he’s qualified for the 2023 Junior Olympics in Denver, Colorado, set to begin Feb. 17. Wilkins is also the reigning state fencing champion.
And he’s picked up those accolades while fencing only part-time.
“It was always on the back burner behind basketball and track,” Wilkins said. “As I got older, and I got better, I started putting it up in the forefront of my mind. I had to quit basketball this year, so I could focus on fencing.”
The dedication has paid off, continuing Saturday in Wilkins’ hometown. He said it was “fun to have a state qualifying tournament here in Rochester.”
His silver medal performance undoubtedly made the tournament even more special.