ANNANDALE, NJ - The Chatham girls foil squad earned a state bronze medal, the first in that weapon in program history, at the NJSIAA Girls Fencing Championships held Sunday at North Hunterdon High.
Chatham's foil squad qualified for the state championships with its second-place finish at the District 3 competition in January. The squad also had earned second place at the Morris County Tournament and the bronze medal at the Santelli Tournament.
Chatham's foil squad of Amy Zheng, Sonia Julius, Samantha Serban, Zaina Qureshi, and Aree Kim suffered a setback when Serban was injured at the Junior Olympic Tournament last weekend. She spent the week recovering and hoping to be ready for the squad event. As the strongest girls' foil squad in Chatham's 10 years they had been looking for solid results in the Squad Championship. Serban managed to take on and win nine of the 19 A-strip bouts before needing to be subbed out for Qureshi and Kim. Zheng held down the B-strip with a 12-7 record.
Julius stunned the competition field with 19 bout wins and no losses. Zheng and Julius beat the gold medal squad from Northern Highlands in their head-to-head round and doubled the winners bout losses for the day. The squad finished with a 40 and 17 record earning them 3rd place and the bronze medal.
"Wow, I'm really impressed with what these girls can do together," Chatham coach Jim Powers said. "They have a very tight bond between them and it really showed today. Samantha gave her best without getting further injured. Amy handled herself really well against the B-strips. Sonia is a true fighter. Zaina and Aree are showing a lot of promise for next season. This a great squad. They earned it."
The Chatham sabre squad qualified at Districts with third place and a bronze medal, where only two touches separated fourth from the gold medal, mirroring the boys' sabres.
The girls' starting sabre lineup of Kat Xikes, Nylah Haq, and Sara Fidler went 19 bouts each, with support from their captain, Izzy Gianusso, and alternate Cynthia Zhang and epee Amudha Krishnan. The sabres finished the day with 37 bout wins and 22 losses, good for fifth place, their second-highest result at this event.
The top five teams Bernards, Montclair, Moorestown Friends, Columbia, and Chatham come from Districts 4, 3, 5, 3, and 3 respectively. Coach Jerry Duffey commented, "This is a squad of sophomores going toe-to-toe with seniors and juniors. We are all proud of how much they have accomplished so soon. The coming seasons have a lot of potential."