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November 19, 2013

Touche

Andover's Burke mixes skills, academics perfectly for St. John's fencing

What you see is not what you get with Rory Burke.

The St. John’s Prep senior from Andover is 6-foot-3, thin and does not give the impression of being a natural athlete.

But, says 16-year St. John’s fencing coach Jim Carter, he’s just perfect as an epee specialist in the sport.

“He’s extremely tall and that’s important because reach matters in epee, which is why most epee fencers tend to be tall,” said Carter. “And he’s thin, which gives you a smaller target area.

“But most of all, he’s smart because you have to be thinking all the time. It’s like chess. You have to anticipate and you have to be planning ahead, waiting for an opening.”

Burke used these attributes last year to win a gold medal at state in the individual epee competition and, in the team competition, to help lead the Eagles to their ninth straight state crown.

And now, with the season soon to get underway, Burke is preparing with gusto by joining his teammates in the running and conditioning part of the preseason.

Some might thinks that fencing is more stationary, and doesn’t require much running, but that’s not so according to Burke.

“Ninety percent of fencing is footwork and you have to be in condition,” he said. “It can be draining and you have to be ready to make your move.”

But, as Carter said, fencing also involves the mental part of sports, which is exactly why Burke likes fencing. With his brother Devin two years older and already on the St. John’s team, he took it up the summer before his freshman year and has made it a year-round passion ever since.

“I like that it (fencing) mixes strategy with physical ability,” said Burke. “Being fast and technical isn’t enough to be good.”

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