Sports

Columbia Edges Millburn for Spot in Fencing State Finals

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Columbia epée starter Bryn Hammarberg (back) fences Ricky Eschenbach of Millburn (foreground), as members of both the Columbia Boys and Girls Teams look on. Credits: Jordan Gaelen
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Millburn Sabre Danny Dembner (right) lunges and scores a touch on Columbia starter Gordon Rutledge (left). Credits: Jordan Gaelen
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Millburn foil fencer Jan Piotrowiak (foreground) keeps his distance from Columbia foil Basile Antoine (back) Credits: Jordan Gaelen
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MAPLEWOOD, NJ - In what was the most anticipated rematch of the season, the Columbia Boys’ Fencing team halted Millburn’s success in a 15–12 victory that determined who will be going to State finals.

Columbia started off strong by winning its first two sabre bouts, followed by a similar but expected strong showing in foil. Of course, all eyes were on epée bouts, where Millburn had triumphed undefeated the last time these two teams were pitted against each other. Columbia seemed to have improved drastically, losing only one epée bout in each of the first two rounds. This put the Columbia Boys at an early 6-3 lead that Millburn fencers Danny Dembner and Ben Goldman nearly closed in the next sabre round. Despite their efforts, however, Columbia recovered in foil and used its newfound epée strength to widen the gap even further. The team ended up winning in the third foil round, 14-8.  

“We wanted this victory more than anything, so we came to NJFA [New Jersey Fencing Alliance, the facility where the match was held] ready, physically and mentally, to win,” said Columbia epée starter Bryn Hammarberg. “We were able to hold our starting intensity throughout the meet against the tough Millburn line, and in the end our determination showed."

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Undoubtedly, determination seemed to be the core asset of the Columbia team, as Girls’ Captain and observer Alexis Auer also noted. “The Columbia Boys team had their heads in the game from the beginning of the meet,” she stated. “This is a great example of how well they fence and work together as a team when they are determined.”

On the Millburn side, there was some disappointment as the team that the Star Ledger had called the “favorite to win the state championship,” would have to wait another year for a chance at glory. Misheel Boldbataar, a freshman fencer who has attended every Millburn meet this season, said that “A lot of our starters lost bouts that they were very close to winning.” Indeed, nine total bouts were won 5-4 by Columbia, and many others were won by one point due to time limits. Still, it was an interesting and exhilarating meet, one that kept observers on the edge of their seats throughout the match. And as Columbia goes onto the State Championships, Millburn fencing eyes the future. Epée Simon Yang sums up the sentiments of many team members when he says, with more than a hint of optimism, “I look forward to another shot.”

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