By Lilly Gifford
Varsity Fencing (VF) broke its two year streak of State Championship titles last Sunday after coming in fourth out of 12 teams at the February 8 event. The boys and girls teams’ records stood at 5–6–0 and 4–2–5 as of January 27.
At the Concord-Carlisle High School-hosted tournament last Sunday, Co-Captain Sophie Sadovnikoff ’15 said the team experienced exciting bouts including two comebacks from fencers Julie Peng and Alex Evenchik (both ’17), who both came back from 4–0 losses to each win with a score of 5–4. This allowed Julie to qualify for the individual event.
Head Coach Gregory Berger said he knew the young, relatively inexperienced team faced a tough task in attempting to defend its back-to-back wins.
A third of this year’s team is composed of first-time fencers, Coach Berger said, and the team is suffering the departure of last season’s 10 seniors, many of whom were nationally ranked. Three nationally ranked juniors also left VF this season after obtaining waivers for out-of-school club fencing.
Co-Captains Sophie Sadovnikoff, Darrith Phan, and HJ Hwang (all ’15)—who specialize in the épée, saber, and foil, respectively—said they hope to help their young fencers overcome their inexperience to build a team as strong and dedicated as in prior years. Sophie said she wants the team to focus on self-improvement, not tournament wins.
“Our objective is to make sure everyone is learning and improving as fencers,” she said.
Darrith said the wide range of abilities has made his job as captain difficult but rewarding. Three freshman novices joined Darrith’s saber group this season.
“It was hard work teaching them the basics and working from scratch, but the work paid off,” Darrith said. “They’re strong fencers and will get even better in the next three years.”
Max Dowden ’16 noted that drills like suicides now take up much of the team’s practice time, and that despute having less talent, the team has increased their strength and fitness levels.
Coach Berger said his goal is to see his fencers applying what they’ve learned in practice to competitions. With the beginner fencers, he said he is “not only happy when they win, but also happy when students execute what I expect them to execute.”
Ultimately, Sophie said she and the majority of the team are “there for fun.”
“We’re having a pretty good time,” she said.