Torrey Pines fencer competes for Team USA


Torrey Pines High School sophomore Nicole Pustilnik is on the attack, racking up points as member of Team USA Fencing. Nicole placed 12th at the Junior Foil World Cup in London in November and 16th at the Junior Foil World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria in December. Currently, Nicole is ranked fifth among U.S. fencers in the junior category.

Nicole Pustilnik with her coach Ted Padgitt at the nationals this summer.

Nicole, a former rhythmic gymnast, picked up fencing six years ago, following in her brother’s footsteps.

In gymnastics, she trained with coach Lena Silaeva.

“She built my stamina, flexibility and coordination—three factors really useful in fencing,” Nicole said. “Gymnastics prepared me for fencing because flexibility is the key to moving well on the strip.”

Nicole trains five times a week with Team Touche Fencing Center in Sorrento Valley and her main coach Tedd Padgitt. She also works with coaches Alex Harut and Raul Perojo.

As a member of Team USA, she gets to travel around the country and the world competing—in January, she competed at the Foil Cadet European Cup in Rome.

She considers every time she gets to a new level at a tournament as her biggest personal win. The accomplishment she was most proud of happened this summer at the USA Junior Fencing National Championships when she got to fence in the finals, placing sixth in foil.

“I don’t have specific goals, my mental state stays healthier just working on improving myself and being the best fencer I can be,” said Nicole. “I try to be positive.”

To give herself a break from the technical aspects of fencing, she plays jazz violin as her creative outlet.

Nicole said that in fencing the hardest thing is the losses after training and working so hard but she sticks with it as it is a sport that can be done your whole life and it is always challenging mentally and physically.

“I can still get better, there is always something to work on and something new to learn,” Nicole said.