Fall City twins are sisters of the saber Teens to take on best in nation at fencing event

Sabers at the ready, Fall City twins Holly and Grace Madland will compete for the second straight year at the U.S. Fencing Association summer nationals. Holly is a right-hander while Grace is a lefty. - Courtesy photo
Sabers at the ready, Fall City twins Holly and Grace Madland will compete for the second straight year at the U.S. Fencing Association summer nationals. Holly is a right-hander while Grace is a lefty.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A pair of Fall City twins are readying their sabers for a repeat appearance at nationals in the sport of fencing.

Teens Holly and Grace Madland recently qualified for the United States Fencing Association’s Summer National Championships, to be held in San Jose, Calif., at the beginning of next month.

Both sisters qualified in the U16 Cadet D-IA category, and will be on a women’s Saber Junior team.

Holly also qualified herself in the U19 Junior division, while Grace made it into the Division II and III events. This will be the second time for both of them at the national competition; both of them made it into nationals last year in the Y14 division, and Grace finished 36th and Holly finished 46th in that event out of a field of 70 girls.

Grace also fenced in the division III event last year, and placed 18th out of 67 competitors. The different classifications they qualified for are based on factors such as previous event placings and size of fields.

Holly said she is ready for competition.

“I know what to expect this time around,” she said.

Meanwhile, Grace is pleased.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

The twins are the lone representatives from the Valley in the national event this year.

The Madlands were introduced to the sport through instruction at their school, The Hillside Student Community, located in Bellevue, and their instructor at the school, coach Kael Sherrard, is himself going to participate in nationals as well, in a saber competition for 40- to 49-year-olds.

The Madlands have been fencing for about four years now. Both compete in the saber event because it’s a lot more aggressive, and the target area on the opponent is from the waist up, so a little athleticism is required for them to be successful.

The twins, who will be juniors at Hillside this fall, practice year-round twice a week at the Salle Auriol club in Seattle. There is one big difference between the two: Holly is a right-hander while Grace is a lefty.

Both of them have had solid seasons leading up to this event. At the recent Pacific Northwest Sectional Championships, both of them placed highly in the Junior U19 Women’s Saber competition. Holly finished second and Grace finished fourth. In addition, Holly finished third in the Senior Women’s Saber event at the sectionals, and Grace won the C and Under division senior women’s saber event at the WWD divisional qualifier in April. To qualify for nationals in these various events, they had to do well in each of these competitions.

Fencers are rated according to size and quality of event competition; Grace is currently rated a “D” in a couple of classifications. The highest rating is an “A”.

Not only are they excellent fencers, but they also are excellent singers, as well. At a recent local competition, the two of them did very well, finishing first and second in a couple of different classifications.

Hillside offers fencing lessons after school Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year, as well as membership on their school fencing club, the Hillside Cavaliers, to youth ages 10 to 18. The school, a college prep and arts school for students in grades five to 12 that is located in the Eastgate area off I-90 in Bellevue, serves students from all over the Eastside. Hillside will celebrate its 40th year of operation next year. For more information about the program, e-mail

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