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Fencing team performs well despite tough competition at ISFL

FIRST+STRIKE%3A+Emma+Jones+%2812%29+lunging+at+her+opponent
FIRST STRIKE: Emma Jones (12) lunging at her opponent

FIRST STRIKE: Emma Jones (12) lunging at her opponent

FIRST STRIKE: Emma Jones (12) lunging at her opponent

Julia Robbins

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This past Saturday, Prettyman Gym was filled with excitement during the Independent School Fencing League Individual Championship.

The tournament was broken up into girls and boys competitions, and then broken up further into the three weapon groups: épée, sabre, and foil, Captain Emma Jones (12) said.

“Even though we are broken up into boys and girls and into three weapons, we are still very much one collective team,” Deveraux Mackey (11) said. The whole team supported each other at the competition, she said.

The tournament started with several random pool rounds, and later, matches were power ranked, Captain Tasfiah Tabassum (12) said.

During the tournament, there were quite a few Lions that were pitted against each other during matches, co- Captain Lucinda Li (12) said.

One of these matches was between épée fencers Edward Ahn (11) and Muhaiminul Ashraf (11), Mahdid Uddin (12) said. Ashraf beat Ahn, but got out in the very next round, Uddin said.

All members of the school’s foil team placed at the competition, with the top three women’s foil slots being Lions, Jones said.

Leading up to Saturday, “foil worked on point control and various defensive moves with the newer fencers,” fencing Coach Errol Spencer ’16 said. Sabre worked on the In-and-Out move as well as other actions that helped score points at the competition, he said.

For this meet, the sabre team worked on “pulling distance and being aggressive off the line,” Mackey said.

Mackey placed 2nd in the girls sabre pool, and Celine Owens (9) placed 3rd, Mackey said.

Owens lost in the semi-finals to a girl that she hopes to beat later on in the year, she said. While Owens knew the tactics that the opponent was using, she couldn’t figure out how to stop her opponent in the moment, Owens said.
During practices, fencers are constantly faced against the same teammates, so leading up to ISFL, Uddin focused on improving his skills as a fencer instead of just improving how he fences against his teammates, he said.
“Our new coach, Coach [Rafael] Western, has implemented a lot of new training that has been really beneficial, and we have a new epée coach, Coach [Yoshua] Ortiz, who has been really good about making new training regimes for us,” Jones said.

The sabre team practiced doing 15-point bouts leading up to the ISFL tournament in order to increase the team’s fencing endurance, Tabassum said.

Ortiz worked on correcting each fencer individually before the tournament, teaching them new movements and reinforcing the movements that the fencers had already mastered, he said.

Jones was the only épée fencer to win a medal, and while Ortiz had hoped that épée would win more medals, he recognized how high the caliber of fencers at the tournament was, he said.

One unexpected success was that Pierson Cohen (10) placed eighth in men’s sabre, Jones said.

Another sophomore that did very well was Phillip Chien (10), who placed 1st in men’s sabre, spectator Natalie Sweet (9) said.

“From the previous matches we had, we learned a lot about teamwork and about creating a style of fencing that is uniquely your own,” Tabassum said. “This weekend we were really able to take what we know and make it our own.”

Fencers from other schools were friendly and willing to give advice about how to go up against other fencers, Li said.

Later this year is the ISFL TeamsTournament, where the fencing team is looking to defend its three trophies from last year and hopefully win even more this year, Tabassum said.

“We have a really good new generation of fencers,” Jones said. “I think the team is in really good hands for the future,” she said.

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Fencing team performs well despite tough competition at ISFL