NFA men's fencing team nabs state foil title

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Mar. 7, 2011
Curtis Arnott's tie-breaking match against Ledyard clinched the state men's foil championship for NFA. Photos by janice Steinhagen.
Curtis Arnott's tie-breaking match against Ledyard clinched the state men's foil championship for NFA. Photos by janice Steinhagen.

Fencing is generally a sedate sport: no yelling, no cheering, just polite applause at the end of a match.

All bets are off, though, when the state championship is at stake.

The Norwich Free Academy men’s foil team became the first fencing team east of the Connecticut River to win top honors at the state team tournament at East Lyme High School March 5.

There was plenty of boisterous cheering through the final round, which went right down to the wire. Having defeated the number-three and number-two seeds (Cheshire and Guilford, respectively), sixth-seeded NFA went up against top-seeded Ledyard. In this tournament, three fencers from each team compete against three from an opposing school for the best five out of nine matches.

The two finalist teams were tied at a score of 4-4, with NFA depending on Curtis Arnott in the last match. He and his Ledyard opponent were tied at 4-4 before Arnott scored the final point – and the noise was deafening.

“The foil people had a stellar day,” said NFA fencing head coach Kurt Young. “They adjusted to everything they had to to pull out the win.”

Young’s women’s foil team placed third of eight teams at the tournament, with wins in two rounds and a loss to Guilford.

The epee teams fared less well. The Wildcat boys came into the event seeded first, but placed eighth. “They had a very bad day, partly caused by the opposing teams… [doing] really better than they did in the individual tournament,” Young said.

Fencers earn an invitation to the team tournament based on their performance at the previous week’s individual tournament, said Young. The NFA women’s epee placed sixth, right where they’d been seeded.



Coach’s Corner-

Norwich Free Academy Fencing Head Coach Kurt Young

First year head coach.

Five years as assistant coach under Peter Landry.

“This was a very, very strong pool,” said Young of the men’s foil competition at states this year. “Anybody in this group could [have won] this thing.” NFA was an underdog, seeded sixth in a field of eight, but pulled off the win with a tie-breaking point in the final match.


Spotlight Players: State Foil Champions-

Tyler Lawhead, Senior: This is Lawhead’s first year fencing on the varsity team. “Tyler started out fencing as a sophomore, but he’s actually extremely talented,” said teammate Curtis Arnott. “He’s much better than me.”


Wonhee Choi, Senior: Choi, along with Arnott, Lawhead and teammate Paul Kalinowski, are “all four really very technical fencers,” said Young. “They’ve been working on their game for three years.”

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