MAPLEWOOD – The energy was palpable at the New Jersey Fencing Alliance in Maplewood when the Columbia High School boys’ fencing team was preparing for their state tournament meet against Montclair High School. As well prepared as they were, they knew that they were in for a tough night given the strength of Montclair’s saber team.
In the first round, despite excellent fencing and a high energy level on display, only saber fencers Matt Rothenberg and Andrew Doddo, and epee fencer Josh Abdill were able to secure victories, and all of these were extremely close bouts. Five of the six bouts lost were 5-4, with that final point being taken away in a heartbeat, drawing gasps of surprise from the crowd.
With the score at 6-3 at the end of the first round and almost every bout being lost by one point, it was anybody’s game. In the second round, the saber fencers came in with weapons blazing so-to-speak, against their strong opponents. International fencer Doddo and Team Captain Harrison Woods were determined to move the score up with some very fierce bouting, which secured two more points for Columbia. Foil fencer Andrew Wasden fought valiantly to win his second round bout 5-4, and foil fencer Tran Soles-Torres was not to be messed with, taking down his opponent 5-0 to re-ignite the spirit of his team. By the end of the second round the scoreboard showed 11-7.
In the third round the Columbia saber boys once again came back with full force to impact the score, with Doddo and Rothenberg securing hard-earned wins, and Woods skipping a beat after some tough fencing to be defeated 5-4. With score moving to 12-9, the foil fencers worked as hard as they could to push forward. However despite a night of energetic fencing and positive spirit, Columbia was defeated 14-9. With excellent fencing post-clinch seen by foil fencer Luke Moramarco and epee fencer Jasper Kransdorf achieving his first varsity win, the night ended with the score of 16-11
Despite the loss, the Columbia High School boys’ fencing team demonstrated some outstanding fencing. Every single fencer in each weapon never once wavered in their strength and determination to do their best for their team. The score for each individual bout remained consistently close throughout the meet, but the support each fencer had for their fellow team members remained much closer.
Team captain Harrison Woods and Head Coach Darryl White were beaming with pride when they spoke to this young new team that had achieved so much in such little time.
With the season coming to an end, all focus will be on training for the state squads championships, which will be held at the end of the month.
On the following night, the Columbia girls’ fencing team was determined and in high spirits for their Sweet 16 state tournament meet against Montclair High School. The Columbia High School boys’ fencing team was there in full force to provide much vocal support.
Saber fencers Gabrielle Tazewell and Brianna Stellini set the pace with outstanding wins in the first round. This exceptional fencing continued with foil fencers Marissa Viqueira, Camille Pham and Hanae Garrison, and epee fencers Brigid Lynch, and Abigail Merelman all winning their first round bouts, setting the score at 7-2.
The girls continued to demonstrate a high level of fencing skills and much tenacity in the second round, as Stellini, Natalie Martinez, Pham, Garrison, Viqueira, and Merelman continued to win their bouts.
Tazewell and Wendt both put in strong performances, only being defeated by one point at 5-4 in that second round of fencing, which ended at 13-5. In the third round, saber fencer Laura Spanier secured the clinch at 14-6 for the girls, winning her bout 5-4 with perseverance and strategic thinking.
After the clinch, saber’s Tazewell and foil fencers Luz Aguba and Roshana Hyppolite, as well as epee fencer Abigail Schneider, continued to demonstrate the high level of fencing that the CHS girls are known for by winning each of their bouts. The girls will also be training hard in preparation for the upcoming state squads championships.