Fencing Preps for Repeat Team State Runs

Pictured are the Indians’ fencing senior captains in Evan Kraus, Athena Yang, Belinda Sam, and Ben Baldwin, whom all had top 10 finishes at the Individual State Championships on March 2 at Hopkins School in New Haven. Photo by John Vanacore/The Courier

While spring begins to show itself this time of year at Guilford, the fencing squad is typically getting ready to carve its name in several trophies across the state. After three team state crowns last season, the Indians began their track back to repeating with several impressive outings.

Following two strong regular season showings, Guilford competed in the Individual State Championships on March 2 at Hopkins School in New Haven, an event that saw the Indians riposte, parry, and attack their way to see at least one top 10 representative in five of six disciplines.

“All of our fencers did a great job drawing on their experiences in past years and throughout this season,” said Head Coach Kyle Mezzi. “I am very proud of all of them.”

As for impressive collective finishes, that distinction went to the girls’ sabre group, which had three top 10 placings on the day. The group was led by sixth-place finisher junior Kate Nolan (Second Team All-State), junior Kate McNamara (8th, Second Team All-State), and sophomore Kate Clancy, who came in 10th.

Leading the boys’ foil squad, senior co-captain Ben Baldwin took home seventh-place honors, along with a Second Team All-State distinction. Right behind him were sophomores Kyle Evered (15th) and Henry Wall (17th).

For the other defending state champion boys’ group in the épée , junior Niall Kneerim (Second Team All-State) also found seven to be his lucky number, as he finished in the that spot. He was followed by seniors Paul Slattery (10th) and Brian Marquis (11th).

Rounding out the boys’ action was the sabre competition, which saw three Indians’ representatives in senior co-captain Albert Kraus (9th), along with junior Ben Eng (15th) and Sam Rosenthal (16th).

For the remaining pair of girls’ disciplines, the foil included senior co-captain Athena Yang finishing tied for fifth, while also racking up Second Team All-State accolades. In addition, freshman Laural Zhang finished eighth (also Second Team All-State) and junior Charlotte Killiam was 17th. In the épée division, senior co-captain Belinda Sam came into the 10th spot, while not far behind were a pair of sophomores in Maddie Montenegro (13th) and Lucy Haskel (33rd).

“I think overall it was a very positive day for us. We are a very young team, with a lot of talent,” said Mezzi. “However, based on strong finishes by Ben Baldwin, Albert Kraus, Niall Kneerim, Athena Yang, Belinda Sam, and Kate Nolan, I think the lesson we take away from this competition is the value of experience in the sport of fencing.”

In Guilford’s final tune up before postseason competition on Feb. 23, all six Indians’ teams fenced in matches against Greenwich, host Hopkins, and Fairfield.

The Indians defeated Greenwich 31-23 with overall match scores of 14-13 for the boys in a loss and 17-10 for the girls in a victory. Winning weapons were girls’ foil with a perfect score of 9-0, alongside a trio of 5-4 finishes by boys’ foil, girls’ épée, and boys’ épée. Girls’ sabre suffered a loss of 6-3 as well against the Cardinals.

The Indian’s fought hard against Hopkins School, but ended with a tied score of 27-27 with match scores of 16-11 for both sides, as the boys’ group lost and the girls’ squad won. The girls’ épée dominated with a score of 7-2, while the boys’ épée took a decisive win of 6-3. Also winners were girls’ (6-3) and boys’ (5-4) foil.

Both squads took defeats in a 33-21 loss to Fairfield, as the boys’ group fell 19-8 and the girls’ slate by a score of 14-13. Yet girls’ épée (5-4) and foil (6-3), along with boys’ foil (5-4) came out on top.

On Senior Night, the Indians celebrated a big 29-25 win over their fellow Indians of North Haven on Feb. 21 with winning scores of 14-13 for the boys and 15-12 for the girls.

Triumphant disciplines were girls’ foil (6-3) and épée (5-4), while for the boys’ side, the épée group earned a 5-4 triumph, plus the sabre squad (6-3) tacked on another victory. Additionally on the evening, boys’ foil and girls’ sabre suffered losses with scores of 6-3 and 5-4, respectively.

Guilford now readies itself for the Team State Championships, which will be conducted on Saturday, March 9 at North Haven.


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