Saints fencers round out the season with third place at States

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Mar. 14, 2011
The Saints' Christian Gospodinov (left) fences epee against Cheshire at the state tournament. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
The Saints' Christian Gospodinov (left) fences epee against Cheshire at the state tournament. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

St. Bernard High School sent two teams to the state fencing tournament March 5 and brought home a trophy that was something of a surprise.

The men’s epee team, seeded seventh in the 8-team tournament, placed third after beating second-seeded North Haven in the first round of competition. “That was a big upset,” said fencing coach Liz Burnham. “North Haven…was a pretty strong team.”

Fencing for the Saints were juniors Abram Doubleday-Bush and Justin Perkins-Olilla and sophomore Christian Gospodinov.

 The eastern Connecticut teams were a force to be reckoned with this year at states, said Burnham.  NFA’s men’s foil team won the championship, the first ECC team to do so. “We had a couple of strong teams in states this year, including NFA and Ledyard,” she said. Against the traditional shoreline powerhouses, “our team did very well.”

The Saints women’s epee team, consisting of junior Mary Sedenski and seniors Kristen Langton and Danielle Franciosi, was seeded seventh and ended up placing seventh.

The Saints took some individual titles this year, too. Sophomore Justin Cavitt and junior Jacqueline Csisar each placed fourth in foil at the ECC championship, and junior Mary Sedenski placed fourth in epee at the state individual tournament.

Fencing in eastern Connecticut may be undergoing a change next year, with epee recognized along with foil as an Eastern Connecticut Conference sport. It would be a welcome change, said Burnham.

In foil, the fencer aims for the opponent’s silvery vest, or lame, said Burnham.  “In epee, the weapon is different and the whole body is the target,” she said. “There’s no right-of-way, so directing [similar to refereeing] is easier and there’s less arguing that way.”

There’s a wide difference in mindset and approach between the two forms of fencing, and “it’s difficult to go back and forth,” said Burnham.

“Foil is really the primary weapon in fencing, and it’s the only weapon they do at ECCs. It’s only in the last few years that epee was introduced at the high school level, and it looks like epee is going to be a little more prominent next year.”

Sports Spotlight:

Women’s state tournament epee team

Danielle Franciosi, senior

In team fencing, three competitors fence each member of the opposing team of three, for the best five out of nine matches. Unlike foil, epee fencers have the opponent’s whole body as the target.

Kristen Langston, senior

Along with Langston, Franciosi and Sedenski, rounding out the Saints women’s epee team was senior Sarah Pilsinski, who served as an alternate at the state team tournament March 5 in East Lyme.

Mary Sedenski, junior

Mary, a novice this year, nevertheless placed fourth in epee at the state individual tournament. “It was her first year fencing, but she shows a lot of promise,” said Burnham.

Coaches’ corner

St. Bernard Fencing Coaches

Liz Burnham

Years coaching St. Bernard: 10

Burnham has been fencing since her student days at UConn, where she joined the fencing club.

Aaron Hughes

Years coaching St. Bernard: 12

Fencing coach since 1996

Hughes came on board with the Saints fencers in 1999, the year the school established fencing as a club sport. “Within a year, it became a varsity sport recognized by St. Bernard, if not by the ECC,” he said.

Seniors:  Emily Glavan, Kristen Langston, Danielle Franciosi, Sarah Pilsinski and R.J. Mazurkiewicz.

For full results:



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