National points hold significant value for fencers in the United States. These points serve multiple purposes: not only do they secure a fencer’s qualification for National Championships, but they also offer them a seeding advantage over lower ranked competitors in tournaments. Furthermore, accumulating a substantial number of national points can open doors to international tournaments and recruitment opportunities at prestigious universities.

The points earned from different age groups “roll down,” so a Y-14 fencer’s Cadet points could be used in calculating their Y-14 rank. Moreover, higher age groups have multipliers to account for the increased difficulty. For example, the winner of a Y-14 event earns 200 points, and a fencer who finishes 15th in a Cadet event walks away with 202 points. A table outlining this point system with the multipliers for each age group is available in the Athlete’s Handbook, and I have transcribed this information into a spreadsheet for easier reference. These multipliers make fencing up look attractive. But is the multiplier enough to offset the difficulty of the higher age group?

### Methodology

To compare the points awarded by fencing in different age groups, I conducted an analysis of national events held between 2016 and 2020. For every set of two “adjacent” age groups (eg. Y-10 and Y-12, Y-14 and Cadet, Junior and Div 1), I compiled each fencer’s highest placement in both the lower category and higher category for each season. Then I calculated the average number of points awarded in the higher category events based on placement in the lower category. I solely looked at fencers’ best performance in each age group during the season, as only their top few results can be used for their ranking on the points list.

### Results

Theoretically, if on average fencers are usually awarded a similar amount or only slightly diminished number of points for competing in the age group above, the two lines on the graph should nearly overlap. However, the data shows a different reality. In most cases, the points earned for achieving top 32 in one’s own age group greatly surpass those typically earned in the next age category.

According to my findings, a Y-10 national champion might only earn about half the points they would normally get competing in their age group when they fence in Y-12. A fencer who placed 32nd in Y-12, earning roughly 40 points, would usually only earn a single digit number of points in Y-14. Although the multipliers are better between older age groups, with the winner of a Cadet event generally earning about 75% of their usual points in Junior, fencers are still usually earning significantly fewer points by fencing up.

Therefore, a fencer who wants to climb as high as possible in the points system should prioritize fencing at NACs in their age group, as the multipliers are not enough to compensate for the large differences in difficulty when “fencing up.”