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In Praise of the 2023-2024 Boys and Girls Fencing Teams


Boys and Girls Fencing had a spectacular 2023-2024 season; by all accounts, it was one of the best fencing seasons the team has ever enjoyed, marked by incredible performances from the fencers.

Meet after meet, competition after competition, the team put forth record-breaking performances to be remembered. The fencers made countless points that managed to surprise not only their teammates, but also themselves. Yes, there were downsides during the season, but they were easily and repeatedly overshadowed by fantastic victories and records for the team.

First, there was the team’s overall performance. Both the boys and girls teams did incredibly well in all three weapons categories: saber, épée and foil. They did so well, in fact, that fencers from all three categories reached All-State, one of the most important fencing competitions in New Jersey. The team also broke a record when a whopping 10 fencers made it to this year’s individual tournaments, the most in the high school’s history.

That wasn’t the only record broken this year, however, as the saber team attained a spectacular win-loss record of 25-2. As for States, the boys saber team made it 8-1, only losing to the school that proceeded to be crowned champions.

“All six weapons made all-conference; every blade, every gender. This is the best we’ve done, ever.”

— Saber Coach Adam Dorfman

The girls team did extremely well, too. At Districts, they reached third place, continuing the trend of only being stopped by the champion. The girls lost their match by only one bout, which is a 5-point round, ending at 13-14 against the champions. The girls squad won 21 times at counties, reaching second place at districts and third at the exclusive, high-level Santelli competition.

“It was one of the best seasons our girls ever had,” Coach Kuschke said.

 “I’m very proud with how we came together this year, and how hard we worked,” captain Alyssa Cullen added. “The work we put in during practice really translated to each bout on the strip. We fought every obstacle that was ahead of us and never stepped down.”

With captains who encouraged and drove the team forward and took pride in the achievements of themselves and their comrades, the reason why the team excelled becomes clear. “All six weapons made all-conference,” said Adam Dorfman, the team’s saber coach. “Every blade, every gender. This is the best we’ve done, ever.”

With the departure of last year’s seniors, this year’s team took a massive hit to its rosters. Previous captains graduated, as well as many others in their class, but the newest generation of fencers wasted no time to step up and take charge.

Fencers Alex Power, Alex Zelley and Cullen stepped up to captain roles while still in their junior year, giving their all throughout the entire season with another full season still ahead of them.

The seniors also did incredibly well this season; namely Julia Jankiewicz, Julien Perez, Hannah Perez and captains Emma Hamilton, Logan Perez and Olivia Meola. In their last season, all of the seniors performed incredibly well, leaving a great legacy for all of the fencers to come after them. Every one of the captains and seniors played crucial roles in the season, not only pushing themselves to achieve great things, but also bringing their teammates forward with them, as clearly shown by the team’s performance.

One fencer who exemplified the team’s growth and performance this season was Hamilton, the captain of sabers, girls and the overall team. She joined the team years ago, following after her older sister. At first, she “felt like she was in her sister’s shadow, but now she’s grown into a dominant fencer, who broke many records,” Coach Adam Dorfman said.

With the guidance of her friends and coaches, Hamilton grew into a better and better fencer over the years, becoming the “most winningest girl fencer” on the team, and breaking both her own and the team’s record with 62 total wins in official bouts. Her growth from a shy freshman into one of the strongest fencers and captains in the team was remarkable, but Hamilton didn’t do it alone. The team worked together to help every individual fencer grow stronger and better; from new freshmen to experienced seniors, there was always something to learn from the team.

Senior Julien Perez, another saber fencer, joined his twin brother on the team only one year ago. Despite the fact that he joined relatively late in high school, Julien became an important part of the team, reaching B-strip after only a year. Julien Perez and Hamilton are only two examples of the many people who joined the team and saw drastic growth in their skills.

Calling All Potential New Fencers

With the imminent departure of this year’s seniors, the team is once again losing many valuable fencers. Unfortunately, the team has been getting smaller over the years, yet the fencers still persist. There are many programs available to help get people into fencing, such as the summer camps run by the coaches and fencers every summer for younger kids, going all the way up to their last summer before high school. This camp is run every summer, from the last week of July to the first two weeks of August, at the Morris Fencing Club. The Morris Fencing Club is a great place to start fencing or hone one’s skills with great coaches like Coach Sherif and Coach Mohamed.

However, no prior experience is needed to join the team. Training outside of the season is the best way to make it into varsity and keep growing as a fencer. It’s never too late either, as seen by B-strip Julian Perez who joined as a junior. With the current seniors graduating, and the team getting smaller every year, the RHS Boys and Girls Fencing Teams need more people to join. Regardless of grade level and experience, anyone is welcome onto the team.

Now, with the end of the season months behind them, fencers can look back at these accomplishments as well as look forward to even more of them next year. Overall, the team had one of its best performances in competitions and meets, despite the loss of so many seniors last year.

With another class of seniors getting ready to graduate, it’s possible that an even better group will take over next year. There are also plenty of highly skilled juniors, who have taken leadership roles, both officially as captains and unofficially as role models, for younger fencers. The team did incredibly well in the past season, and now shows more promise to grow even better next year with the hard work of all the current and future fencers.

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