Columbia HS boys’ and girls’ fencing teams advance to the state tourney finals

CHS epee fencer Isabelle Wendt, right, before winning bout against Montgomery High School.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Columbia High School boys’ and girls’ fencing teams advanced to their respective finals of the state tournament.

The boys’ team faced St. Peter’s Prep, while the girls’ team faced Bergen County Tech in the finals at Morris Hills High School in Rockaway on Feb. 22, beginning at 7 p.m.

The CHS  girls’ team  once again competed in the final after its semifinal win over Montgomery High School.

Saber fencer Laura Spanier started the winning streak with the first victory bout in round one, followed by winning bouts from foil fencers Marissa Viquiera and Hanae Garrison, and epee fencer Isabelle Wendt. Garrison displayed patience and fast thinking under pressure to win 5-4.

With Montgomery leading 5-4 at the start of the second round, all three saber fencers – Laura Spanier, Brianna Stellini, and Sophia Heriveaux – were determined to use all their strength to win their bouts and put Columbia in the lead. Viquiera added a point for foil, and Wendt and Ana Cowie won more bouts for epee, moving the score to 10-8 in Columbia’s favor by the end of round two.

CHS foil fencer Tran Soles-Torres, right, before winning his bout against Wayne Hills High School

Stellini and Spanier won the two third round saber bouts to further advance Columbia’s score. Spanier demonstrated very strong fencing to win her bout 5-0. Viquiera put in a convincing win for foil to set up her fellow foil fencer Camille Pham to clinch (14-10) with her decisive 5-0 win.

The CHS girls’ team also won the three dual meets against Morristown High School, Millburn High School, and Montclair Kimberley Academy. At the Morristown meet, outstanding fencing was seen by saber fencer Janine Bacchus-Joseph, who won all three of her bouts with determination and strength. Saber fencer Mia Zuckerburg not only had her first varsity victory, but won both her bouts convincingly 5-1, 5-0 with excellent fencing. Lulu Mansfield-Greenwald won both her saber bouts to contribute to the team win. Foil fencers Luz Aguba, Taylor Brooks, Roshanna Hyppolite, and Amelia Wissel all won bouts with Wissel having her first varsity victory. Garrison knocked out her opponent 5-0 in the first round with some superior fencing. Epee fencers Cowie, Brassington, Wendt, Jasmine Lecount-McClannahan, and Saffron Payne all had victorious bouts with Cowie clinching for the CHS girls 14-4. Payne also had her first varsity victory at this meet.

The girls defeated Millburn High School 14-5 with strong fencing seen once again in all three weapons. Saber girls Heriveaux, Spanier, and Stellini had an exceptional all-win start, with Pham and Aguba following with their foil wins in the first round. Cowie and Wendt won both their first round bouts in epee. In the second round, Stellini, Heriveaux, and Pham kept the score going up and epee girls Brassington, Wendt, and Cowie won all of their bouts, setting up Bacchus-Joseph to clinch for the meet with her convincing 5-1 win.

The CHS girls’ won their meet against Montclair Kimberley as they forfeited on the night.

The CHS boys’ fencing team followed the girls lead in winning their semifinal bout against Wayne Hills and also winning all three of its dual meets during the week.

The boys threw themselves into each and every bout against Wayne Hills with all the positive energy they could muster, never once believing that they would not win despite some very strong saber opponents. Aaron Waldner started the first round with strong saber fencing to win the first bout for Columbia. Tran Soles-Torres, Luke Moramarco, and Jack Woods were not about to show any mercy in foil with the stakes being so high. They won all bouts they fenced. Epee fencers Josh Abdill and Adam DuBowy worked on moving Columbia’s score higher with CHS going into the second round 6-3

Saber captain Matt Rothenberg scored a point in the second round.  Epee’s DuBowy and Isaiah Ogbeifun won their bouts, bringing the score to the comfortable 12-6 by the end of round two. Saber’s Dean Gillette saved the night for saber with his decisive win, which set up foil fencer Woods to clinch the semifinal meet, 14-8.

The first dual meet for the week was against Morristown High School in which the CHS boys won 14-7. In the first round Gillette and Michael Mee won their bouts and Soles-Torres scored a point for foil. All three epee fencers – Abdill, DuBowy, and Ogbeifun – displayed strong fencing to win all their bouts. In the second round, Mee and Waldner had convincing wins for saber and all three foil fencers – Moramarco, Clarke, and Soles-Torres – followed with strong wins. DuBowy and Abdill continued to win which enabled saber fencer Stephan Oloade to clinch for the night when he displayed quick thinking under pressure to win 5-4. This was his first varsity victory.

Many would consider the boys’ meet against Millburn High School which they won 14-13, to be one of the most intense meets for both fencers and spectators alike. Columbia’s strength in all three weapons was being tested on the night, but once again the ever supportive spirit of the  CHS boys’ team came through to enable them to defeat Millburn albeit by only one point.

Saber’s Gillette kept calm under the pressure of the 4-4 bout to come through and win the first point for his team, and Moramarco and Abdill added their wins to the scoreboard in foil and epee, respectively, to bring the score to 3-6 with Millburn in the lead. In the second round, Rothenberg came in with a vengeance with his 5-0 win for saber, and Moramarco and Soles-Torres followed his lead in winning their bouts in foil. Epee fencers Abdill and Ogbeifun showed determination and patience in bringing the score to 8-10 with Millburn still in the lead.

Saber fencer Gillette once again displayed calmness and speed under the pressure of a 5-4 win to put a point on the board for saber. Foil fencer Soles-Torres’ convincing win in the third round triggered the extraordinary domino effect of five straight victories with fellow fencer Andrew Wasden, and all three epee fencers – Ogbeifun, Abdill, and Dubowy – exhibiting the same passion and determination under pressure, to defeat Millburn 14-8. DuBowy clinched for the night.

In the final dual meet of the week, the boys defeated MKA 14-5. Strong fencing was demonstrated once again by fencers in all three weapons. Saber fencer Michael Wallin’s high pressure win clinched for Columbia on the night.