By By Dean Bibens • 03/06/2022 5:26 PM EST
Guilford’s fencing program has been nothing short of spectacular this year. Guilford’s boys’ and girls’ fencing teams went undefeated through the regular season, and most recently each team won their respective Connecticut Coast Conference (CCC) championship titles.
Head coach Tara Bowers knew the Grizzlies could claim their conference crowns as long as they performed to their potential on the Strip. That’s precisely what Guilford fencers did when the CCC Championships were held at the Morgan School on February 26th.
“We’ve played all of these teams at least twice this season, so we knew our competitors. We knew there would be challenges, but we had great results throughout the season,” said Coach Bowers. “I felt like we came into this competition confident and knowing what we had to do. And the athletes did exactly what they needed to.
Guilford’s men’s fencing team swept all three categories winning the foil, epee and saber competitions at the CCC meet. The women’s team took first place in foil and finished second in epee and saber en route to the conference title.
In foil, the Guilford boys beat Morgan 5-1 and beat Hand 5-3. The men’s foil team includes senior captain Sands Pascucilla, juniors Ryan Lynch and Arya Nadgouda, and second Paul Greenleaf. Greenleaf went 5-0 in the CCC competition, while Lynch finished 4-0 that day.
“I was pleasantly surprised that my men’s foil team was able to win their event. They started the season on the weaker side after graduating two top fencers last year, but they matured, focused, trained and improved so much this season that they were able to win the conference title as well. , as well as men’s saber, men’s epee, and women’s foil,” said Bowers. “My women’s saber and epee teams came second, but they fought for every point, and I’m proud of their efforts.”
The men’s saber team picked up a 5-1 win over North Haven and a 5-3 win over Morgan. Senior Jerry Li recorded five wins and senior captain Owen Angkatavanich won four games in the mee. Junior Shivai Kumar and sophomore Jason Li also competed for the team.
The men’s epee team came away with a 5-3 victory over Morgan, then edged Hand by a score of 5-4. The team includes senior captain AJ Raucci and Noah Provencher, along with fellow seniors Dan White and David Crair. Raucci led the way with four wins for Coach Bowers’ side.
“Even though fencing is an individual sport, they compete as a team. Our conference championship would not have been possible without the efforts of every team member,” said Coach Bowers. “One of the reasons Guilford’s fencing is still one of the best in the state is that we don’t just have one or two talented fencers, but we have deep talent.”
For the women’s fencing team, the foil team had a 5-0 win over Hand and a 6-3 win over Morgan in the CCC Championship. Junior captain Taylor Smith and sophomore Catherine Zhou recorded four wins each in the triumphant effort. Juniors Machi Merkle-Ward and Cassie Pringle collected three wins collectively.
The women’s saber team defeated North Haven 5-0, then suffered a 5-2 loss to Hand to finish second in the conference. The team includes senior captain Lucia Rusconi, senior Kat Libby, junior Joy Qiang and second Cassie Granata. Rusconi picked up three wins in the encounter, while Qiang and Libby each picked up two wins.
“Some victories were more difficult than others, but in all cases the team was ready for the challenge. And with each competition, I think the fencers learned and grew as individuals and as a team” , Bowers said. “One of my goals this year was to have a meeting with all the competitive fencing teams in the state, and we did that, which meant two to three meetings a week for all season. I’m really proud of how my fencers have behaved and grown through these competitions.
The women’s epee team took a 5-3 win over Morgan before losing 5-2 to Hand to take second place. The fencers on the team are senior Catie Pena, juniors Riley Weed and Melek Top, and second Flora Zhang. Top five wins for the Grizzlies.
With a pair of conference titles on the books, Guilford’s fencing program will compete in the State Tag Team Championships at North Haven High School on Sunday, March 13. Coach Bowers is confident his two teams are capable of winning state titles.
“We’ve trained so hard this year, and I think our fencers really are the best in the state. For the end of the season, we need to stay physically fit, keep practicing the skills we’ve been practicing all year and focus on training the mind for the competitions,” said Coach Bowers. “States is unlike any meeting we’ve had all season. Children must complete the equivalent of four competitions in one day. It is very difficult physically and emotionally. In our last week of training, we have to prepare to endure this and stay focused.
Guilford has been captained by six captains throughout the 2022 season. The captains for the men’s team are Angkatavanich, Pascucilla, Provencher and Raucci, while Rusconi and Smith lead the charge for the women’s team.
Coach Bowers said it was a wonderful experience working with the Guilford fencers this year, and she also appreciates the efforts of her two assistant coaches, Jeremy Goun and Mark Kissinger.
“I’m so proud to coach these kids,” Bowers said. “I am also very grateful to my co-coach Jeremy Goun and my volunteer coach Mark Kissinger, especially Mark, who gives his time and shows up at every practice and meeting. The coaching staff really uses our individual strengths to build the athletes and the whole team. The team wouldn’t be where it is today without the three of us. »