RANDOLPH, NJ - The Chatham boys fencing team won the Morris County Tournament team title, the Cougar boys won their third consecutive sabre title, and Chatham senior Darren Yen won his second sabre individual championship on Saturday at the 10th county fencing championships.
It was the first MCT fencing title for Chatham since winning back-to-back MCTs in 2013 and 2014. First-year Chatham coaches Hunter Stusnick and Gabby Simon were members of Chatham's inaugural parent-funded team during the 2010-'11 campaign.
"The Morris County Fencing Tournament is a much higher level competition now than it was six years ago," Stusnick, one of the four founding members of Chatham High fencing, said. "Other teams used to let their top fencers go to the national events and skip the Morris tournament. Today the boys beat the best they had. It is so much fun to be part of it again."
Chatham's undefeated sabre team of senior captain Darren Yen, and sophomores Marshall Hong and Preston Yen dominated the sabre competition in winning their third straight MCT sabre championship. The trio went 26-1 on the day, winning 21 of their bouts by 5-0 or 5-1 score.
Their total indicator for Chaham's sabre team - touches scored minus touches received - was plus-103. Darren Yen and Marshall Hong both qualified for the individual championship round with undefeated squad pool results. Preston Yen was knocked out by the Morris Knolls Freshman Lilov. Hong finished individuals at 4th place while Yen captured the Boys' Sabre Champion gold for the second time, going undefeated for the day.
"I have a plane flight in a few hours to compete in a national event," Darren Yen sad. "I'll be back for Senior Night."
Assisting the sabre squad and taking silver in boys' foil squad, senior captain Zak Zeareban and juniors Nate Eck and Jacob Mahon scored 22 wins, only 2 tied bout touches away from 1st place West Morris Central.
Zeareban's 8-1 in the squad pool earned him entry into the individual round. Eck and Mahon were edged out by fencers from Morris Hills and Mendham respectively. Eck still managed to win one bout in 10 seconds of fencing time, under the supervision of Doc Rolando who also holds the record for the quickest fencing wins of his own high school team.
Zeareban finished with a personal silver to his longtime rival and friend Nate Mange of West Morris Central.
The Chatham epees finished in 8th place for the squad pools, but pulled in enough bouts to push the team to the championship title. Junior captain Ahmer Khan and freshmen Jonah Blanchard and Michael Dwyer played the long game, fighting through some tough epee squads to ensure the top team result. Epee Coach Lauren Fuchs commented, "I'm proud of our squad captain and our freshmen epees. We are going to see them grow into a much stronger squad."
The Chatham Girls' Fencing Team had a tougher day starting without their two top fencers and losing a third early in the tournament. The lady Cougars walked into the fray without Sathyanath and Serban.
After two bouts they lost junior foil captain Amy Zheng to a low-grade fever. While she agreed to stop fencing for the day, she insisted on assistant coaching her squad mates for the remainder of the day, an action that helped new foil sophomore Aree Kim earn her first fencing win. It also kept sophomore Sonia Julius in a successful hunt for the individual round with a 7-2 score, including five wins of 5-1 or 5-0. Julius succeeded in earning the bronze for individual girls' foil.
"The girls have put in a lot of work and we learned a lot today," Simon said.
The lady epees, junior captain Dorothy Zhang, sophomore Elysa Jordan, and freshman Amudha Krishnan won three of their tied bouts, while eight of them slipped away, resulting in a 9th place squad finish.
The sabre girls were lead by senior captain Marie Field, with freshmen Nylah Haq and Kat Xikes taking on the opposing juniors and seniors. Field and Xikes pulled 4 wins each with Haq's 8-1 result moving her into the individual round. They finished in the bronze position as a squad, about 10 touches behind the first place squad from Randolph. Haq finished the individual round in 4th place. The lady Rams team finished first with a 59-22 score.
"The girls' team was severely handicapped at the Morris County event, they won't be when we get to the District 1 Tournament," Chatham head coach Jerry Duffey said. "The boys' team accomplished one of the goals for this year and there are more big things to come from this team. I'm proud to be part of this crew of coaches and amazing kids and fencers."
The Chatham fencing teams continue their conference meets on Tuesday with Morris Catholic, Jan. 8th, at Chatham Middle School, at 5:30 p.m.
Chatham will travel to Drew University on Saturday and Sunday for the largest high school fencing team event in the world, the men's Cetrulo Tournament and the women's 40th anniversary Santelli Tournament.