Montclair’s Second Place Saber Medalists from left, Grace Van Atta, Emily Hand and Grace Edgington pose at the Santelli Tournament.
courtesy coach Edward Chang

by Andrew Garda

The Montclair High School fencing team started this season off working hard, and has seen a lot of success because of it.

Most recently the boys took part in the annual Cetrulo Tournament and finished ninth out of 53 teams, with the girls taking seventh in the 2019 Santelli tournament out of 51 teams.

This comes on the heels of a great showing to open the season in a quad event at Livingston against the Lancers, as well as Columbia and Millburn High School, with the girls going undefeated.

“We look at every meet as an opportunity to learn and improve,” head coach Ed Chang said in an email. “The quad was a long day, with tough teams, and good training for our tournament days ahead. The girls came out strong and remain undefeated. We are proud of them and their consistency, and are working to maintain that as the season goes on. The boys fell to Livingston, and missed beating Columbia by a narrow margin.”

The boys have come out and beat both Newark Academy and Governor Livingston to be above .500 going into the Cetrulo tournament weekend. “We are equally proud of the progress shown by our boys and commend their perseverance,” Chang said.

The first home match against Governor Livingston was a chance to do some team building.

“At Montclair’s first home meet, we emphasized team spirit and pride,” Chang said. “The energy on all levels contributed greatly to a strong win which, in turn, allowed for us to give our younger fencers a chance to fence.”

While the boys were getting back on track, the girls were continuing their winning ways allowing Montclair to sweep both matches. That lead to the Mounties having plenty of momentum heading into the  40th annual Santelli and Cetrulo Tournaments this past weekend at Drew University.

The Santelli and Cetrulo tournaments do two things for the Mounties fencers: first, they help hone and sharpen Montclair’s skills on the fencing strip before MHS has to compete in the district, county and state meets. A good can help their seeding for those events, but the early test against top teams means the Mounties will be well prepared no matter where they land in the rankings.

Secondly, it gives them a chance to compete against fencing teams they don’t normally see during the regular season. Those same teams could very well factor in during either team or individual events at the county or state level. This gives Montclair a taste of the level of competition they’ll see in the coming weeks. It also challenges they to adapt and overcome the styles and strengths of fencers they never see.

Both the girls and boys definitely performed well under those circumstances.

Montclair High School saber fencer Grace Van Atta gets ready for a match during the Dec. 15 quad meet.
courtesy Cara Moroze

As was the case consistently last season, the backbone of the girls team was the sabre squad, which finished second overall this year. The Mounties only dropped matches to Ridge and Bernards, beating West Windsor Plainsboro-North, Bergen Tech and Chatham two matches to one, while sweeping Morris Knolls.

Foil finished 17th and epee took 20th place.

The boys finished seventh overall on the strength of the epee squad’s fourth-place finish and the sabre squad finishing in fifth.

The Mountie epee fencers finished three victories behind champion Bernards, and two behind Morris Hills and West Essex.

The sabre squad was just two games behind second-place Chatham, with Livingston cruising to the title in that weapon.

After the tournament, the Mounties took on West Essex on Tuesday, Jan. 15. They have one more meet on Jan. 24, at home against Oak Knoll and Saint Peter’s. Then they host the district meet on Jan. 27, before taking on cross-town rival Montclair Kimberley Academy on Jan. 30.