The Governor Livingston Highlander Boys and Girls Fencing teams turned in gutsy performances at last weekend's District 3 Tournament to catapult themselves into post-season play.
The Lady Highlanders benefitted from sensational foil performances by the starting line of Grace Boyle, Taia Harrison and Aileen Trella to move into the Sweet-16 Team playoff round. The foil line finished with a silver-medal performance, narrowly missing its first District Title by one bout.
The Saber and Epee lines also turned in unexpectedly gritty performances to allow the GL Girls team to capture the overall Silver Medal [their third in a row]. Led by Junior Olympian Jillian Rosamilia, the Saber line included Sophomores Alaina Uhouse and Junior Olympians Zoe To and Lauren Wagner and was awarded the Bronze Medal for its stunning efforts. The epee line-up was led off by Naomi Warde and was anchored by Junior Olympians Colleen Reilly and Cherie Kao. For Uhouse, To, Wagner and Warde, all sophomores, and Reilly, a freshman, it was their first time as starters in the always-tough District Tournament.
"We have an unusually young team. We are mostly sophomores. Most of this year's starters were back-ups for last year's State Championship team. So, we really considered this a building year, not a competitive year. I guess we underestimated ourselves", said an obviously-pleased Head Coach Vince Paragano after the District Tournament. "If everyone else underestimates us, well, that will be their fault." The Girls team will begin its "Sweet-16" competition and State Team Championship title defense with a dual meet against Wayne Valley on Wednesday, February 10th at the Columbia Middle School. The winner of that meet will advance to the "Great-8" Round against the winner of Columbia High School vs. Montclair.
All 3 girls squads also earned spots in the Squad State Championships being held later this month. Rosamilia and Trella topped off their excellent high school seasons by qualifying for the NJSIAA State Individual Fencing Championships. For both it will be their first appearance in the Individual Championships. That tournament will be held in early March at Rider University.
"I am really happy for Jillian (Rosamilia) and Aileen (Trella). They both worked really hard in the off-season," said Paragano. "Jillian especially deserves to compete for the State Individual Championship. She helped to lead us to last year's Team Championship, Santelli Saber Championship and State Saber Squad Championship. So, she now deserves her own individual recognition."
At the same District 3 Tournament, the Highlander Boys Team qualified for the boys Sweet-16 round thanks to the Silver Medal performance of its own foil line of Jordan Pagano, George Edinger and Ryan Kim. Edinger capped a terrific District Tournament effort by qualifying for the State Individual Championships. For Edinger, a senior, it will be his first Individual State Championship appearance.
"The big stunner for me has been the Boys Team," said Assistant Coach Tony Barbera. "They are mostly sophomores and they are still learning the ropes. Just wait until they are seniors! You have to feel real good about where both teams are heading."
The Boys Team kicks off its Sweet-16 Bracket with a meet against #3 ranked Bernards High School in Bernardsville on Tuesday, February 9th. The winner of that meet will face the winner of West Windsor South vs. Randolph in the "Great-8" Round.
The Boys Foil Squad will also be joining the 3 Girls weapons squads in representing Gov. Livingston at the Squad State Championships.
Details concerning all playoff and Championship Round scheduling and results can be found at www.glfencing.org