Revamped fencing program takes state title

The Varsity Fencing team capped off another successful season with a first-place finish at the Massachusetts State Fencing Championship on February 10 at Dana Hall.

Spencer Kuldell ’18 won first in Men’s Sabre Individual, Zetty Cho ’18 placed third in Women’s Sabre Individual, and the boys’ saber squad—composed of Spencer, Aaron Kaufer ’17, Owen Hakim ’18, and Aaron Chisholm ’19—took first in Men’s Saber Team. During the regular season, the boys went 10–0, and the girls finished 5–5.

The group spent the day fencing other Independent School League (ISL) and preparatory schools and cheering for their teammates. Although they went into the tournament ranked fifth, by the end the team found themselves in a battle for first place with St. John’s Prep, eventually claiming the title with four more wins than their opponent.

Victory at the state championships is not new for the Knights. The team took the championship in 2015 and came close with a third-place finish last year. Still, foil fencer Leo Chen ’19 said the fencers knew the effort and time they had put in during the season would help them have a solid chance of placing first. 

“Going from third place to first place takes a lot of work, and the hard work that we have done throughout the season really paid off,” he said.

Both the coaches and the captains continued to encourage the team to keep working, which Leo said bolstered his confidence.

“At the last bout of the day, everybody was really tired, especially me,” Leo said. “Still, the team’s cheering helped me focus and become even more excited since it was such a close battle to the end. Their cheering made me realize that this victory wasn’t just for me, but for the team.”

Co-Captain and Epee fencer Alex Evenchik ’17 credited the team’s improvement to their new training facility—the Boston Fencing Club (BFC) in Brighton—and the talent in members of the new coaching staff. As part of the recent athletic department changes, the team gained access to the high-end facilities, which the fencers agreed exposed them to great coaches and an intense yet rewarding training experience.

“Our [coaches] not only had a very in-depth view of fencing, but [they] also knew how to teach kids who weren’t fencing outside of school,” Alex said. “[They] knew what was needed to get us to a higher level of fencing and were able to do that in the time we had.”

Alex added that the win represented the growth of the school’s fencing program with respect to both student interest and overall skill level. He noted the “great improvement” shown by the 15 underclassmen and expressed confidence in the team’s prospects next year.

Foil Coach Ed Ballinger said that he also is excited to see where the fencing program will go after such an impressive season.

“All of the BB&N fencers were better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning of the season,” he concluded. “We will do this again next season as we try to repeat as state champions.”

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