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(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) - For the next couple of years, Emily Shertzer '02 (Hummelstown, PA) will be living in the dusty environs of Fort Sam Houston, outside San Antonio, Texas, building up to a chance at an Olympic gold medal. She's been invited to train with other athletes who hope to make the U.S. team for the pentathlon event of the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
Formerly called the military pentathlon, this competition requires contenders to be proficient target shooters, fencers, swimmers, horseback riders, and runners. In some events, such as the 200-meter freestyle swim, the athletes compete against the clock; in others, such as the fencing bouts and the 3,000-meter run, against each other.
Those invited to train already have demonstrated prowess in four of the five categories, "which is where I'm at," Shertzer said. The Hershey native is a prize-winning rider and an all-American runner; and she has qualified for the air pistol and swimming events. Now she must learn the art of the epée.
Shertzer came to the notice of U.S. Olympic officials when, as a high school rider, she competed in a tetrathlon organized by the Pony Club, an international association for riders between the ages of 6 and 21. When the U.S. tetrathlon team went to the British Isles in 1996, Shertzer came in ninth overall and was the top American finisher.
For the pentathlon, her partner is Sting, a 14-year-old Appaloosa that she's ridden since eighth grade. In the spring semester of her first three years at Moravian, Sting came to college with her and boarded at a local stable. But with Shertzer's busy schedule of senior activities, Sting has stayed home in Hershey this year.
Shertzer is a biology major and a music minor. An oboist, she played several solos at the 2001 Christmas Vespers and is in the orchestra for the Moravian College Choir concert this weekend. She expects to be in San Antonio through the summer of 2003, when selection trials for the 2004 games are held. The pentathlon team consists of two women and two men, and seven women are competing for the two slots.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the website at www.moravian.edu.