In The Schools
RANDOLPH, NJ--The Randolph High School fencing program may not be the most glamorous sports program in the school, nor is it the most popular. Some more mainstream sports that Randolph is successful in, such as hockey or basketball, overshadow the underdog fencing organization. However, the RHS fencing team has been consistent throughout the years, finding success in, and winning, numerous tournaments and meets.
One reason the Rams fencing program gets overlooked, might be the fact that many people do not know the rules.
The sport of fencing features competition using three different types of swords--epee, foil, and sabre--each of which follows different rules and styles. A bout ends when one of the two fencers competing reaches a score of five points.
Sabre is the weapon that is most similar to what one would consider traditional “sword-fighting.” In sabre bouts, fencers try to get the right of way. Whoever is advancing has the right of way and each touch of the blade earns the fencer one point. The person on defense who is retreating can try to regain the right of way, but he or she needs to “beat” the top of the opponent’s blade with his or her own blade in order to get the right away.
The fencer who is retreating can “parry,” which occurs when they (The fencer on defense) blocks the attack from the offense and reposts, or attacks, to get the touch. The target areas for getting points in sabre fencing are the head, body. and arms.
Epee is a different sword, which has a button on its tip to sense a touch, which targets the whole body. Epee competition moves at a slower pace than sabre and the match lasts for a maximum of two minutes. Each fencer would try to get the right of way and get the touch and the point.
In foil, competition is played at epee’s pace, but the target area is only the chest. The fencers try to get the right of way and get the touch. If a fencer is on defense they can parry an attack and get the touch even though they do not have the right of way. The blade mechanics are the same as epee blade mechanics, there is a button on the tip of the blade and gets the touch if they touch the tip of the blade on the opponent’s target area, which is the chest.
Seniors Bryan Geiger and Sydni Nadler are the two captains of the boys and girls team respectively. In addition, there are captains for each blade: senior Sam Guttman and junior Rachel Davitt are the captains of the boys and girls epee team; senior Lucas Clemente and Nadler are the captains of the boys and girls foil team; and Geiger and senior Kristi Raymond are the captains of the boys and girls sabre team.
The Rams head coach is Mark Kuschke, the sabre coach is Adam Dorfman, the epee coach is Jaime Ayala and the foil coach is Mitch Dorfman. The RHS fencing team is in a district with nine other teams and fences in two annual tournaments.
RHS hosts the County competition for teams in the county. Districts is a tournament usually hosted by Hackettstown in January and, in order to qualify for states, each separate squad must rank at least fourth out of ten schools. There is also individual’s competition at Counties and Districts, the latter of which counts for state qualification.
The Randolph fencing team started out as a small club sport in 2005. The team officially became a varsity sport during the 2006-2007 season under head coach Lisa Hansell-Kuschke. Mitch Dorfman was with the team since it was a club sport and coach Mark Kuschke became the head coach in the 2009 season. Coach Adam started coaching in the 2014 season and coach Jaime started coaching in the 2013 season. The team has experienced a good amount of success, winning the conference multiple times, getting second in counties, placing top ten in states, and winning the Morris County championship. The most recent success occurred during the 2017-2018 fencing season when the girls sabre team placed first in districts.
This season, Randolph experienced greater success than it has in the past few years. During districts the entire boys team placed in the top four in all three weapons category, qualifying the team for states. In the process, Bryan Geiger, the sabre captain and captain of the whole team, acquired enough wins to make individuals and came in ninth. The epee captain, Sam Guttman, and junior Hunter Rodell both made individuals and placed in the top five in the district. Lucas Clemente, the foil captain, came in fifth place. The only girls squad that qualified for states was the girls sabre team, which placed first. Junior Julia Yellen and senior Bayla Gellerstein placed sixth and fifth respectively.
The boys have earned a record of 7-4, while the girls have earned a 7-2 record so far this season. The team looks to remain confident going into the hardest task ahead for this program, the state playoffs in late February.
Editors Note: Michael Cafero is a student at Randolph High School participating in a Journalism program with TAPinto Randolph