NFA boys capture dual ECC fencing team crowns
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Feb. 25, 2013
In a grand finale worthy of cinematic treatment, Kyle Young of Norwich Free Academy crossed swords with David Allen, of Ledyard, to defend his boys’ foil championship title at the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament. Clusters of watching fencers shushed each other and the gym fell silent as the pair parried, battling to a 14-point tie as the clock ran out. But it was Allen’s day, as he scored the decisive 15th point a few seconds into overtime, claiming the individual boys’ foil title.
Despite Young’s loss, the Wildcat boys walked away from the Feb. 23 tournament at Griswold High School with team titles in both foil and epee. The entire NFA fencing squad - including both girls’ squads - entered the tournament as divisional champions based on its performance during regular season meets. The girls’ epee team, however, shared its top spot with East Lyme, both with 9-1 records. The NFA boys’ epeeists were undefeated at 10-0, and the Wildcat girls’ and boys’ foil teams both posted 15-1 seasons.
But the cards were reshuffled at the ECC meet. NFA coach Kurt Young, who is Kyle’s father, said that each school fielded a team of three fencers in each weapon and each gender. After an initial round, the competitors were seeded and single-elimination determined both individual titles and the team championships, based on placements earned by each competitor for the team. Unlike the regular season meets, where fencers may compete in both foil and epee, they must use one weapon only in the ECC tournament. Because of the small squad size, “you can have a really strong team and one guy has a bad day” and scuttles the team’s chances, said Young.
Kenny Wen of NFA posted the second-best individual Wildcat performance, fencing his way to the epee semi-finals by defeating Griswold’s Noah Higgins and NFA teammate Christian Lefebvre following a first-round bye. He fell, however, to Fitch’s Tony Castagnaro by a 7-15 score in the semifinals, and was edged back to fourth place by St. Bernard’s Christian Gospodinoff, 11-15.
NFA foilist Joseph Lefebvre accompanied his teammate Young through the brackets up to the quarter-finals, falling to St. Bernard’s Justin Cavitt by a score of 8-11. Cavitt ultimately placed third, edging out Saints teammate Zack Kuvalanka 15-13 in their consolation match.
For Griswold, Mandi Charette posted the best individual performance, lasting into the quarter-finals in girls’ foil before falling, 11-15, to Quinn Dewelius of Ledyard. NFA’s Abigail Wichael also made it into the foil quarter-finals, but lost to Ashley Adams of Fitch.
Coach Young said that Wichael, a sophomore, came into the NFA program with prior fencing experience. She fenced epee at the end of last season, and was bumped up so that she could compete in the state tournament. “She grew a lot during this year,” he said. “She fenced both weapons and did very well.” Young also cited standout Reuben Deglin, who stepped in from the junior varsity level to fill a vacancy on the varsity team.
The girls’ team titles were won by Ledyard in foil and East Lyme in epee. The state individual fencing tournament is slated for Saturday in New Haven. The top eight teams in the state are invited to the team tournament the following week, said Young.