Fencing invitational fosters both community and competition

SIMULTANEOUS TOUCH. Sophomore Rowan Moore and Minnetonkas Ciara Grad landed attacks on each other at the same time. The referee decided not to award a point to either of them.
SIMULTANEOUS TOUCH. Sophomore Rowan Moore and Minnetonka’s Ciara Grad landed attacks on each other at the same time. The referee decided not to award a point to either of them.
Lani Ngonethong
Spartan fencers and parents come together to make invitational happen

After a night of sporting events in the gym on Feb 2. the fencing team and their parents gathered in the gym at 8:30 p.m. to set up for their first home tournament, the SPA Invitational, of the season at 8:00 a.m. the next day.

Around 300 fencers were set to compete the next day which is bigger than other fencing tournaments this season as well as the tournament the Spartans hosted last year. Their competition is the same as most invitationals: Blake, Minnetonka, Rochester, TCFC (Twin Cities Fencing Club). Due to the size of the event, the team, which usually sets up as a team bonding event, enlisted the help of parent volunteers.

Captain Claire Kim’s mom, Hyejoon Rim helped organize the volunteers along with the other captain’s parents. “Set up is the tricky part, but we are really appreciative for everyone to come and help,” Rim said.

Set up is the tricky part, but we are really appreciative for everyone to come and help.

— Hyejoon Rim

The team needed to set up dozens of metal rectangles that piece together to create a strip which is what the fencers compete on top of. Because of the number of people, they also measured out painter’s tape to create faux strips on the gym floor.

When fencing on the ground, if an athlete hits the floor instead of a person the sensor cable on the athlete will go off as if the sword has hit their opponent, but when they fence on metal, the sensor does not go off and the fencing can continue. The metal makes the matches more accurate.

The fencing coach drew up a map of where the strips were to be placed and they got to work.

This tournament was good practice for the team both in fencing and in set up as they are hosting the State Individual tournament later this month.

Invitational sparks friendly competition; Rivalries arise within Spartans
FORMS OF FENCING. There are three forms of fencing: saber, foil, and épée. They differ in target areas where opponents can hit and sword shape.
FORMS OF FENCING. There are three forms of fencing: saber, foil, and épée. They differ in target areas where opponents can hit and sword shape. (Lani Ngonethong)

Multiple machines were beeping as fencers from all across the Twin Cities aggressively jabbed at one another. Teammates cheered on athletes, and friends and family watched from the side.

The lively SPA invitational tournament took place last Saturday in the main gym. The Spartans, as well as fencers from various clubs and schools, sparred from 8 am to 7 pm in the three forms of fencing: foil, epee, and saber. The tournament occurred in the largeym and Driscoll areas of Huss.

Foil, epee, and saber differ in sword design and target areas where opponents can hit. In foil, the target area is only the torso. In epee, competitors can hit anywhere on the body, including the head. Finally, in Saber, fencers can attack anywhere on the upper body. Each touch is worth one point.

I expect all my fencers to place at the very least.

— Coach Moran

Saber coach Will Moran shared his hopes for the saber team prior to the tournament. “I expect all my fencers to place at the very least… All of them should place hopefully at least top eight and then hopefully we get a few either winning or top two or top four,” Moran said.

Sophomore Rowan Moore was focused on the shimmering first-place glass trophy while fencing in the Women’s Saber finals. In their second year on the team, Moore sparred their way to the top of the pool. In fencing tournaments, pools are groups of four or five fencers that spar with each other in a round-robin format. In simple terms, pools decide the fencer’s ranking for the elimination round.

“Granted, the way the seating worked out, I got pretty lucky in terms of people I had. A lot of the people in my pool were new fencers,” Moore said.

Moore met Minnetonka’s Ciara Grad in the finals. Both put up a good fight near the end of their bout. Moore was stuck at ten points while Grad climbed to 14 points. Moore started their three-point streak, then brought the score to 13-14. Saber is usually the fastest form of fencing out of the three, with the bout usually ending within seconds. With evasions and aggressions, the final bout lasted longer than usual. Moore lost in the Women’s Saber finals to Grad, claiming second place. The final score was 13-15.

In Men’s Saber, sophomore Ethan He placed eighth.

Meanwhile, the Spartans went up to the Athletic Bridge for breaks. Spartan parents brought food and snacks. The team set down their big bags long enough to fit their blades and other equipment. Between bouts, the spartans sprawled on the floor. Some poked their heads out from the Bridge into the small gym to cheer on their teammates.

In Women’s épée, three spartans were in the top ten: junior Annie Zhang in seventh and junior Belle Weng in sixth. Senior Claire Kim lost the finals to Lyla Read from the Twin Cities Fencing Club 6-15, claiming second place.

Four spartans placed in the top ten in Men’s épée: Sophomore Ryan Kari placed tenth, and senior Humza Murad placed ninth. In the semifinals, senior Maik Nguyen lost to Evan Ezmar from Blake High School 2-15, who eventually won first place. Junior Milan Mishra lost to William Siedow from the Twin Cities Fencing Club, who subsequently won second place. After facing defeat in the semifinals, Nguyen and Mishra faced each other for the final spot on the podium. The Spartans were tied at 14-14. Nguyen took third place by one point, and Mishra took fourth. The final score was 15-14.

After almost twelve hours in the gym, the tournament wrapped up. All spartans in the top ten in their respective events took home a medal.

Their next event is the Rochester Invitation this Saturday at 8:00 a.m.

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