A Tollhouse fencing star is putting the country and the rest of the world "en garde" with an outstanding tournament finish in Europe.

At just 17 years old, Tollhouse's Jessie Radanovich has the form, the reach and the passion to become one of the best épée fencers in the world.

"Since her first practice I looked at her - how she stays and what she does - I told her that is an épée fencer in the future. And it's happened," Fresno Fencing Academy owner and head coach Vladimir Ostatnigrosh said.

Earlier this month, Radanovich and her father Rob traveled to Moscow, Russia for the World Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships. To neither's surprise, Jessie excelled, advancing all the way to third place.

"I was so excited to be there. Nervous of course. But I was very happy with my results," Jessie said.

"I was so proud of her because it's so difficult and this is not just a physical sport about who's the strongest that day. It's the mental strength it takes," Rob Radanovich said.

The third-place finish still brought out the competitive spirit in Radanovich.

"I'm not disappointed to finish third. I'm just disappointed to lose. Because losing sucks," Jessie said.

This weekend Radanovich will make the trip to Virginia Beach, where she'll match up against the best fencers in America, at any age, at the Division 1 National Championships.

"They're going to be in the 2012 Olympics, and it's so much fun to fence them. They're so hard. And you have nothing to lose so you can just go all out," Jessie said.

Currently finishing up her junior year at Hallmark Charter School, Radanovich's finish at the world championships will catch the eye of prestigious college fencing programs on the East Coast.

"I just want to get into a good school, hopefully with a scholarship, and fence," she said.

While Radanovich admits this summer's Olympics are probably not in the cards, that won't foil her dreams of competing in the Rio de Janeiro games of 2016.

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tollhouse, fresno county, sports, david bataller
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