"Being on the strip, facing somebody who might be better than you," Terry says, "I think he thrives at that."

For Duncan, fencing isn't stressful. It's a matter of executing what he prepared for during practices. It's about not letting distractions obstruct what is ahead of him.

"At some point, I just blot out everything else," he says. "I focus on myself and my own fencing, and making sure that I am executing everything correctly."

Last month, at the Maryland Under-20 Junior Olympic Qualifiers, Duncan took first in foil, qualifying for the Junior Olympics to be held in February in Portland, Ore.

Duncan's individuality in the sport, which has shaped his determined mindset while on the strip, helped him get there.

"There is no one but yourself that you can rely on; you must perform," Duncan says.

"And if you do," he adds, pausing. "Well … you're a champion."

He and Sam have a history, which adds to the intensity of what should already be a competitive event.

The two have fenced against each other a few times, but Sam hasn't beaten Duncan yet. That doesn't mean the matches weren't close.

"We've had a couple 14-15 bouts," Sam explains.

After a little while at the Chesapeake Fencing Club, Sam walks over to the young fencer who had challenged him earlier in the night. They move over to the far strip and, despite the disparity in age and height, begin their friendly bout.

Sam is ready for the Charm City Classic. But with Duncan there, he's got a little added incentive.

"I've gotten better now," Sam says, laughing. "I kind of want my rematch there."

jphogan@baltsun.com

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Richard F. Oles Memorial Charm City Classic

When: Saturday and Sunday

Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (both days)

Where: UMBC's Retriever Activities Center

Admission: Free

Online: http://askfred.net/Events/moreInfo.php?tournament_id=24599