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Nation’s best fencing teen must decide between Olympic glory and a world-class education

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

On the one hand, there's the Olympics. On the other, Harvard.

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Sage Palmedo is undoubtedly the nation's best teenage sabre fencing female -- The Oregonian

Sage Palmedo is undoubtedly the nation's best teenage sabre fencing female -- The Oregonian

Each has its own merits for Oregon's Sage Palmedo, the nation's top fencing teen. It's a decision other 17-year-olds wouldn't mind facing, but a difficult one nonetheless.

"People go like, 'Rough life,'" Sage's mother, Kelly Palmedo, told The Oregonian in a fantastic feature detailing the conundrum the sabre star mulls in the coming months. "You have to choose between the Olympics and Harvard. It's really difficult, right?"

On July 1, collegiate coaches can begin contacting Palmedo, who enrolled in Stanford University Online High School as a prep freshman in 2010. A couple months later, Ivy League schools stop accepting early admission applications -- around the same time fencing guru Ed Korfanty needs a full-time commitment for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

It's no wonder Korfanty is wielding a figurative épée of his own, fending off the country's top college coaches, since Palmedo has been the nation's top-ranked sabre fencing female in her age group for eight years running, according to The Oregonian.

Korfanty has Palmedo's ear. The Polish native has been mentoring her since the first grade at Portland's Oregon Fencing Alliance. In practice, he's seen Palmedo defeat another protégé, two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis, and also watched her beat current NCAA champion Eliza Stone at a World Cup competition this year.

"I'm always supporting academics," Korfanty plainly told The Oregonian as Palmedo listened a few feet away. "But if I see potential, I want to use this potential."

However, the Ivy League may have Palmedo's heart. Tired of traveling the world -- balancing her studies and the demands of competing at cadet, junior and national levels -- she longs for the simpler life that her brother enjoys as a trumpet player at Harvard.

Oh, the agony: Olympic glory or a world-class education. Every teenager's lament.

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