Sophomore Joseph Rafidi closed out a year of international fencing competition with a 16th-place finish at the Junior World Championship held in Moscow this week. In a field of 150 epeeists, he had the second-highest placement for the U.S. national team as Dylan Nollner (Duke University) ranked 10th.
Rafidi opened preliminary action with a 5-3 loss to Zeid Haddad (Jordan) but bounced back by defeating Alexandre Lyssov (Canada) by the same margin. He then fell to Jesus Limardo (Venezuela), Henry Mayall-Vandervelde (Australia) and Saleh Saleh (Egypt) in close bouts before topping Yusuf Bojte (Turkey), 5-3.
Moving on into the elimination bracket, Rafidi edged out Gi Heyon Kim (South Korea) and Ariel Drizin (Israel) by a score of 15-14. He earned a 15-13 victory over Omar Ihab (Egypt) which put him in the round of 16 where he fell to eventual champion, Sangyoung Park (South Korea), 15-11.
One of only three epeeists to be picked for the U.S. national team, Rafidi secured his spot on the squad following a year-long qualification process that began with a silver-medal finish at the Junior Summer Nationals, continued with a second-place finish at January's Junior North American Cup, and culminated in a 13th-place finish at the Junior World Cup in Sweden. Rafidi was the only American entrant to finish in the top 16 at the Junior World Cup, where he lost to Great Britain's Philip Marsh, who won last year's Junior World Championship.