VIOREL FLORESCU/THE RECORD
Jake Shulman will be a junior this year but has already made a name for himself in the fencing world.
A fine balance is needed for Jake Shulman to continue to excel in competitive fencing. Actually, his physical balance is fine, it’s just that he must balance his meal times and workout times.
“My dad and I are foodies,” the Northern Highlands junior-to-be said by phone from Budapest, Hungary, as thoughts of goulash danced in his head. “We like to sample the best food wherever we go.”
Shulman, who is in Budapest attending a camp run by Princeton University’s head coach, stays nimble by fencing practically year-round. And as he seeks out competition, he does plenty of traveling. This time, dad Robert Shulman stayed home and did not accompany Jake to Europe, but mom, Carol, did.
“I’m at the World Cup training camp, training with many of the best fencers in the world,” the slender 5-foot-9 foil standout from Upper Saddle River said.
He has come a long way since his father noticed a story about fencing in the Town Journal back when Shulman was in fifth grade. “My dad thought I might like it, so I tried it. Fencing is a very mental sport and I tend to like mental challenges, so I liked it right away.”
Shulman feels fortunate to have met Stanislav “Stas” Gutkovskiy, an instructor and former National Champion of Belarus. They first crossed paths when Gutkovskiy was associated with the Bergen Fencing Club near Shulman’s preschool. He guided Shulman to the foil as his weapon and now runs the Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy (GFA) in Fair Lawn, where Shulman continues as his pupil.
The results have shown well as Shulman has won a high school district championship in each of his first two years of high school and finished in the top 64 this year among 300 entrants in his age group at the Summer Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. Finishing in the top 64 was a major step forward as it earned him a position on the national points list that college recruits scrutinize constantly.
Shulman also fared well in the Junior Olympics in Baltimore. He was also Top 8 early this year as a member of the USA team in the PanAm Games in Puerto Rico, competing in the Cadet (Under 18) Division.
With every trip — nationally or internationally — competition and food are balanced on his personal menu. He has remained nimble despite his fondness for the meals he has discovered during his journeys, such as his time in Puerto Rico and now Hungary.
“There are exceptional places in the USA, too,” he emphasized. Interestingly, one of the best spots for the Shulman traveling gourmets has been Cincinnati.