37 questions with Linus Bendel-Stenzel

Will Kaback

Will Kaback, Editor Emeritus

The early December sky is a despondent gray, but by the way Linus Bendel-Stenzel ‘18 is acting, you would think it was sunny July afternoon. Bubbling with a calm excitement at eight in the morning, Linus greets me with enthusiasm and charm, and keeps it up.

     As we walk around his home, he appears comfortable and in control at the same time, listening to my questions attentively and savoring each and every answer he conjures.

     In spending the morning with Bendel-Stenzel, I find him to be a man of many passions—dedicated to his own intellectual pursuits while also carving out time for his family and community. From juggling, to taking advanced science, to indulging in the simple pleasures of curling up in a blanket, Linus distinguishes himself as a refreshingly unique and spirited individual with a wonderful lack of inhibition.

     With a packed schedule of nine classes that includes linear algebra at the U of M and a self-taught computer science course, it would seem like Bendel-Stenzel would have little time or inclination to pursue much outside of his academics. Perhaps that’s why it’s hard to conceal a sense of awe when he reveals his talents as a year-round fencer and competitive juggler.

     His interest in juggling was the product of a bit of sibling peer pressure. “My sister [Lilly Bendel-Stenzel ‘15] and I, when we were at Edina, found a lot of people who were in this group called Jugheads,” he says.

     He adds that his sister took to juggling first, and after coming home from a competition told him, “Linus, you have to learn how to juggle, join Jugheads, and be in the show.”

     Bendel-Stenzel says he then spent “about ten hours” the next Saturday learning the craft. Although there were “lots of tears” at first, he says he eventually picked it up and joined the juggling group.

     To this day, he practices with the group at least once a week, and is working his way up to their top tier of competition.

     Since coming to the school in ninth grade, Bendel-Stenzel has discovered an enthusiasm for a different area of sport—fencing. As a part of the school’s wildly successful fencing team, he had the opportunity to duel two-time state champion Solomon Polansky ‘15 in the state tournament’s single elimination round.

     Even though he was defeated by the eventual champion 15-1, he says he is “proud of that one point” as it was a sign of his individual progression in the sport. In the off season, he trains and competes at the Minnesota Sword Club, which is supplemented by “the occasional tennis match” to improve hand-eye coordination and endurance.

     Talking with Bendel-Stenzel, it’s quickly apparent that he is full of surprises. Ask him about his favorite genre of music and he’ll recite the lyrics from “School Song” from the musical Matilda. Or, inquire into his fashion interests and he produces a box filled with colorful and quirky socks that he calls his “collection.”

      Undoubtedly, he’s a man of many talents. Whether it is his impressive juggling ability or dedicated fencing, Bendel-Stenzel displays a knack for unique competition. Despite having so many balls in the air as it is, he manages to keep them all afloat.

     See his best responses of 37 questions below, and watch him answer in full online at www.blakespectrum.com.