The Montclair High School girls fencing team and their coaches pose with their trophies after the District 3 Tournament at Livingston High School on Sunday Jan. 19.
Courtesy David Bauer

by Andrew Garda

LIVINGSTON—The Montclair High School fencing teams had a successful day on Sunday at the District 3 Tournament at Livingston High School, as the girls took first overall and the boys finished in sixth place.

The event, held on Jan. 19, also saw other significant victories for MHS. 

Both the girls sabre and épée squads took first place, with foil finishing in third for their weapon. Boys épée also finished very strong with a second-place finish.

Individually, sabre fencers Grace Edgington and Grace Van Atta finished in first and fourth place respectively, Amira Mutakabbir took second in épée and Georgia Chen placed third in foil. 

For the boys, épée fencers Liyan Cheung took third and Ethan Phillips finished in fourth place.

Those individual fencers, including all three girls’ weapons and boys’ épée, qualified to compete in the New Jersey State Squad and Individual championships. The squad competition for the boys is Saturday, Feb. 22, while the girls squads will compete on Feb. 23. Both will take place at North Hunterdon High School.

The individual competition will take place on March 1 at Livingston High School.

MHS épée fencer Clara Mendoza looks for an opening during the District 3 tournament on Sunday, Jan. 19. The épée squad would take first, as did the girls team overall.

Over the course of 87 bouts, the Montclair girls totaled 74 victories, with the next closest team being Columbia with 63. The Mounties won 85 percent of their matches and scored 210 more touches than their opponents. 

Both the sabre and épée teams found themselves in tight races, with sabre edging second place Livingston by only one point, while épée finished just two points up on second place Columbia.

Foil landed in third place, just three points behind first place Millburn and tied with Chatham, but ranked behind them because their opponents scored more touches.

The boys’ team scored 65 wins out of 105 bouts to end up in sixth place, 16 wins behind winner Newark Academy. 

The épée squad finished highest out of the individual weapons, ending in second just two wins behind Chatham, though they scored one more touch and allowed two more by their opponents. 

The foil and sabre units both finished in sixth place, with foil scoring 21 wins and sabre taking in 16. 

The Mounties épée squad comprised of Clara Mendoza, Katie Mathis, Amira Mutakabbir and Maria Linietsky, hold their First place District 3 épée trophy.
Courtesy David Bauer

Cheung and Phillips both did well for boys épée, finishing behind Newark Academy’s JJ Whitehurst and Millburn’s Matthew Skolnik.

Phillips actually was tied for fourth with Brendan Tierney of Morristown. The two then had a bout to determine the winner of that fourth place spot, a critical decision that would impact how the berths would be sorted out in the State championships.

It was a tight battle between the two, but Phillips was able to overcome Tierney with a 5-4 victory.

For the most part, the girls’ individual results weren’t quite so dramatic. Mutakabbir only lost two matches, one of which was to eventual winner Victoria Kuznetsov of Millburn. Similarly, Chen’s only two losses were to Millburn’s Jasmine Shen and Chatham’s Samantha Serban, the only two fencers to finish above her in foil. 

It was only when the sabre squad took to the strip that things got interesting.

Van Atta tied with Shaine Hammarberg of Columbia in terms of wins, each with five, but Hammarberg scored 12 more touches than she allowed, while Van Atta only had a differential of four, which gave the CHS fencer the edge and third place.

Edgington, however, found herself tied with Livingston’s Amanda Manubag. Both had seven victories and both had a touch differential of +20.

Grace Edington, Nzingha Mutkabbir, Grace Van Atta and Meg McClenahan hold their First place District 3 Sabre trophy.
Courtesy David Bauer

So like Phillips, Edgington found herself in a tie-breaking bout. 

Unlike Phillips though, Edgington’s match wasn’t terribly close, as the MHS sabre fencer defeated her opponent 5-2 to take first place.

While the teams are looking forward to States, there’s still fencing to be done. Tuesday night saw the Mounties take on Columbia on the road. The girls continued their winning ways with a tight victory, while the boys fought hard but lost.

Thursday, Jan. 23 finds the teams back home at Glenfield Middle School to battle West Essex while Friday, Jan. 24 will see the girls head to Kent Place for a match.

Then the team has a few days of practice before next Tuesday, Jan. 28, when they have a home meet against Livingston High School.