Winter Garden native Logan Gatza got a taste of international competition recently and brought home a gold medal in fencing for his country in the process.
Gatza, 10, represented Team USA in the Youth Epee and Foil competitions at the 2015 Pan-American Youth and Veterans Fencing Championships in Lima, Peru, last week.
On Aug. 5, Logan placed first in the epee competition, and on Aug. 8, he placed fifth in the foil.
“I did not expect to get all the way to gold … it was amazing,” Logan said. “I was amazed that I won against (competitors from) seven different countries.”
Of course, the competition wasn’t the only unique part of the experience for Logan and his father, Jeramy Gatza, who made the trip with him.
“We’ve gone to see different sights in Peru — we saw the changing of the palace guards, and we saw this cool archeological pyramid,” Logan said. “We also went to the beach. There was no sand; it was just like rocks.”
Going on adventures in a foreign country was a nice perk for this particular trip for Logan and Jeramy, with the flight and competition schedule allowing more downtime than usual.
“A lot of times on our fencing trips, it’s just go, fence, get back on the plane and come home,” Jeramy said. “This one, we’ve had a lot of time to just explore and have almost like a mini-vacation wrapped into a fencing tournament.”
Logan said his favorite part of the trip was meeting the competitors from different countries and making new friends — despite some of the language barriers in the Spanish-speaking country. It was his first time traveling abroad for competition and just his second time leaving the country, he said.
Nevertheless, Logan’s performance while fencing also was noteworthy.
“This is one of Logan’s best showings at a tournament,” Jeramy said. “I’m super proud of him — not only in where he placed but (also) in how he fenced. He got a lot of compliments from the other competitors.”
Leading up to the competition, Logan had increased his training regimen to four days a week and, as such, now trains at two different gyms. Logan still trains with Jason and Jenny Seachrist at Winter Garden Fencing Academy, where he got his start in the sport, but now also trains at the D’Alerta Fencing Academy in Oviedo.
There will be no downtime for Logan, who is also an actor and competes in modern pentathlons. The fencing year starts in August and runs through July. This will be Logan’s final year competing in the “Y10” category, and, as such, he has high hopes and a busy schedule ahead of him. In the coming months, Logan will compete in Baltimore, Texas, Atlanta and Orlando.
Logan, who has been the points leader in the Southeast United States in his age group for the epee and foil for the past two years, has his sights set on new heights in his final year in this particular competition grouping.
“He’s setting his sights on nationals this year,” Jeramy said.