Columbia HS boys’ and girls’ fencing teams victorious

Columbia High School’s Harrison Woods, right, clinches the victory for the Cougars, 14-7, against Livingston.
Columbia High School’s Harrison Woods, right, clinches the victory for the Cougars, 14-7, against Livingston.

MAPLEWOOD – It was a week of celebrations for both the Columbia High School boys’ and girls’ fencing teams as they both defeated Newark Academy and Livingston High School.

The Columbia boys’ fencing team knew it had to be in top form to fence against the strong and experienced team from Newark Academy. They trained hard and rose to the occasion on the night of the meet against the Newark Academy boys’ team. The score remained close despite great fencing in all three weapons.

Epee fencer Isaiah Ogbeifun finally broke the tie, winning his bout in the first round. When Ogbeifun and fellow epee fencer Josh Abdil both won their bouts in the second round, they started the winning momentum which was continued by all three saber fencers, Matt Rothenberg, Harrison Woods and Dean Gillette. Gillette’s win clinched for the night at 14-7.

Gillette, a newcomer to the saber C strip, demonstrated some fine fencing skills and appeared determined to clinch for the team. Woods, who is the boys’ team captain, demonstrated outstanding fencing in defeating Newark Academy’s strong saber fencer, Adam Levine, 5-1, who was undefeated in the first two rounds.

Both saber fencers Dean Gilette and Matt Rothenberg put in strong performances when they each defeated their opponents 5-0 in the first and second rounds respectively.

The boys fenced against Livingston High School on the following day at the New Jersey Fencing Alliance. In the first round, the foil starters, Tran Soles-Torres, Luke Moramarco, and Andrew Wasden, won all three bouts, propelled by the outstanding fencing and 5-0 win by A strip  Soles-Torres. In the first two rounds, the scores were too close for comfort until epee fencer Adam DuBowy began an all winning streak which culminated in a 5-0 win by saber fencer Harrison Woods, who clinched the deal for his team at 14-7.

The girls’ fencing team continued its winning streak with outstanding performances again by fencers in all three weapons.

In their first meet of the week against Newark Academy, epee starters Brigid Lynch, Abigail Merelman and Abigail Schneider, and alternates Sophia Heriveaux and Jasmine Lecount-McClannahan demonstrated outstanding fencing when they won all of their bouts, with Schneider clinching for the team, 14-3. In the first round, all three foil fencers, Hanae Garrison, Luz Aguba and Zoe Fuhrman, fenced admirably to win each of their first round bouts, Fuhrman earning her first varsity win.

The following day, the Columbia girls’ fencing team was missing a number of its key starters for the meet against Livingston High School. For the first time in the season, they were working hard to keep up with their opponents and the tension was high.

All epee starters, Lynch, Merelman and Shneider, and epee alternates Heriveaux and Lecount-McLannahan once again won all of their bouts. Foil fencers Garrison, Aguba and Fuhrman won all their bouts in the first round. At the end of the night, when epee fencer Abigail Schneider stepped onto the strip, the score was 13-13 and the excitement was at an all-time high with the entire boys’ team adding a few decibels to the cheering.

The strength of support, and camaraderie from both the boys’ and girls’ teams, and the determination and skill of Schneider proved to be no match for her Livingston opponent when she won the bout, 5-2, and clinched, 14-13.

There was a very audible sigh of relief from the Columbia girls given this was the closest experience that they had had in a long time.

The CHS girls’ fencing team won the Santelli Tournament title for the third straight year on Saturday, Jan. 16, and the CHS boys’ fencing team won the Cetrulo Tournament championship for the fifth straight year on Sunday, Jan. 17, both at Drew University.