MADISON, NJ - The Chatham boys' sabre fencing squad of captain Preston Yen, Vincent Liu, Henry Epstein, and Kamran Haq had a podium level day at the 2020 Cetrulo tournament held Jan. 12 in the Simon Forum at Drew University.
The Chatham sabres placed third out of 55 schools to earn the bronze medal at the 91st annual NJIFA Cetrulo Tournament.
According to the organizers, the New Jersey Interscholastic Fencing Association, the tournament is the oldest and largest of its kind for boys in the world with over 600 boys in the competition. Chatham High School sent a team of eighteen boys to the event.
Team and epee captain, senior Ahmer Khan and his squad Jonah Blanchard, Michael Dwyer, Vedant Kudalkar, Alex Lee, Hayden Lacy, and Raaid Khan had a solid showing in the morning fencing. In their first round Dwyer, Khan, and Blanchard swept Don Bosco and Princeton High and went 2-1 against three other squads. Senior Khan went 6-1 on C-strip, sophomore Dwyer added 2-5 on B-strip, and sophomore Blanchard had a 5-2 record on A-strip at the Cetrulo midpoint. The epees finished the morning round with 13 bout wins to 8 losses setting them in 21st going into the second round. The afternoon fencing was a touch and go for the boys' squad after they reordered for the second half. Dwyer moved to C-strip and came in with a four bout wins and three losses. Khan moved onto the B-strip and carried a 5-2 record. Blanchard found that several of the opponents' A-strips far outmatched their B and C strip fencers. Coach Joshua Gertner commented, "The West Windsor Plainsbor-North A-strip is probably the best boys' epee fencer at Cetrulo this year. This is a squad and team event and it takes all three. That's why the Chatham squad is moving up in this pool." The epee boys finished the afternoon with an 11-10 record good for 20th place, the highest Chatham epee result at the Cetrulo tournament. Epee coach Hunter Stusnick said, "We had seven tied bouts in the second round and only won two of them. That means we are the edge of leveling up the whole squad. I'm optimistic about their potential for the District 3 tournament next weekend."
Foil captain, senior Aidan West, and his squad of Jacob Mahon, Charles Gallucci, Nate Eck, Jayden Halkiopoulus, Aidan Marrinan, and Luca Gianusso put in consistent performances across the ten hour tournament. Eck, Gallucci, and Mahon swept Gill St. Bernards, Passaic Valley, and Butler. They pulled in 2-1 against Princeton High and West Essex. They had two tied bouts and another bout that dropped against Lawrenceville, the eventual bronze medal finisher. The squad had six tied bouts in the first round, three won and three lost. Eck and Gallucci both posted morning records of 5-2 with Mahon at 4-3 for a squad first round result of 14-7 placing them at 17th. The second round is organized in pools of eight from top to bottom and the Chatham foils were headed for pool three until one of the top sixteen foil squads withdrew during the lunch break. The Chatham boys were slid into the pool of squads from nineth through sixteenth with tougher oppponents and a chance for a higher finish. Fighting to take advantage of their good fortune, their bouts included eight tied bouts, of which they won five. Their steady efforts produced another 4-3 record for senior Mahon on A-strip, and a 5-2 for freshman Gallucci on B-strip. Seniors Eck and West shared the afternoon C-strip duties going 2-1 and 1-3 respectively. The squad totalled 12 wins and 9 losses for a 13th place finish, the squad's second best for Chatham at the Cetrulo. Coach Jim Powers said, "Overall, I'm really happy with my boys. Each one has his own fencing style with specific strengths. Four of our new District 3 foils squads are in the top ten at this event. Next Sunday is going to be exciting. I think the Chatham boys have what it takes to do really well."
The Chatham boys' sabre squad, captain Preston Yen, Vincent Liu, Henry Epstein, and Kamran Haq had a podium level day at the 2020 Cetrulo tournament. They started off the morning seeded at number 10 and went on to sweep six schools in their first pool. Juniors Yen and Epstein posted records of 7-0 going undefeated. Senior Liu had the toughest opponents and had losses to Columbia's Giles and McNair's Molina. He finished the morning with a 5-2 record. The squad totaled 19 wins and only 2 losses to move them up six positions into fourth for the afternoon fencing with a shot at the top spot. Competing against the top seven sabre squads of the day, Chatham's boys swept two schools 3-0 including stunning wins against Morris Knolls' Angelillo and Lilov. The went 2-1 against St. Benedict's, Christian Brothers, and Millburn. Yen and Liu had tied bouts with Newark Academy winning one and losing the other for a squad 1-2. Watchung Hills, where Mr. Librera will be the new Principal at the end of January, managed to win all three bouts. In the second round, Epstein posted a 4-3, Yen a 6-1, and Liu a 3-4 for a combined 13 wins and 8 losses. The final result was good for a squad bronze medal. This is Chatham's second sabre squad medal at the Cetrulo, with Preston Yen on both medalling squads. Coach Jerry Duffey remarked, "The Chatham sabres continue to excel against the best in the state. That's not an accident. They train and work hard for years to get here and they give their best, no matter what the score is. The bouts you see in the Cetrulo in the afternoon in the top pool are national level contests. Many of these boys, like their counterparts in the Santelli, are already qualified for the Junior Olympics in February. Next Sunday the District 3 championship will be our kids' third tournament in as many weekends. The high school fencing season is tough. The Chatham sabres earned their bronze medal and the boys' team pulled their best finish ever at sixth."
Over the course of the 10-hour tournament, Chatham's Ben Stern took up the challenge of working at the armorer table under the supervision of one of America's top fencing armorers, Ted Li of the Pingry team. Asked about his adventure for the day, Stern replied, "I learned so much more than I expected. Eighty percent of the problems are the same little things over and over. The fencers depend on their weapons to work correctly so they can give their best. It was really rewarding to be able to fix those problems for them." Sophomore Ben Stern is the first official student armorer for the Chatham team.
In addition to being a premier tournament, the Cetrulo is also a scouting tool for the district and State championships.