Fencing On Point on Quest for a Repeat
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The boys’ varsity fencing team, the Cobras, has quietly been one of Stuyvesant’s most successful sports teams in the past few years. They haven’t lost a game since their 2019 season, currently on a 19-0 run since the return of PSAL sporting. Last year, they took home the PSAL boys fencing championship banner, defeating Brooklyn Tech in the finals in dramatic fashion. This year, they’re hoping to be repeat champions.
The Cobras’ sport can seem complicated to the casual fan. There are two main blades used in fencing, the foil and the epee. With either weapon, points are scored in touches (hits made on the opponent with the tip of the blade) and foil fencers must hit the opponent in a smaller range to score. The first to score five touches wins a bout, and nine bouts constitute a game. Two games are usually played in a competition, one for foil and one for epee, so the winner of each game will have reached 45 touches total. Each player usually plays one bout at a time, though they often play multiple bouts in a game.
As games are won by total score, the most important role in a fencing competition is the anchor, or the player who fences the last bout. Senior and captain Jacob Guo, the foil anchor, has certainly lived up to those expectations. During last year’s PSAL championship, the score was tied 44-44 in Guo’s bout, and he managed to score a final touch to seal the game. “It was a surreal experience [with] everyone swarming me, [and] trying to process what just happened,” Guo said.
This year, Guo has taken on the position of foil captain as he tries to use his experience to bring the team back to the championship. “He’s a guy who practices a lot,” senior captain of girls’ fencing Carina Lee said. “This year he’s been kind of a role model for the new guys. He’s the one you watch if you want to learn.”
Most recently, the Cobras won a competition against Beacon (45-21 in foil and 45-22 in epee) on November 1. They played like an undefeated team, with junior Israel Stahl opening the competition with a 5-0 win in a foil bout. Junior William Tang then played his first foil bout of the season in top form, also keeping his opponent scoreless. Junior Carter Lim won double his opponents’ score in two bouts, and Guo closed the game with an emphatic 5-2 against Beacon’s anchor. In epee, Beacon put up a fight, playing three of their best fencers, but the Cobras were able to win the game by a large margin. Junior Louis-Philippe Janssen held two of the epeeists to just three touches total over his bouts, and epee captain Gabriel Huang finished the match decisively against Beacon’s freshman anchor.
Looking forward, the Cobras hope to return to the championship this season. While they are assured of their skill, nothing is guaranteed. “Our biggest competitors are Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Hunter, but really everything is relative. You don’t know anything until the playoffs,” coach Joel Winston said.
The Cobras have adopted Winston’s “hope for the best, expect the worst,” mentality, practicing a lot and developing a strong kinship with one another. Guo said, “We have a really solid shot at winning the title this year, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it. We have to really start taking practice very seriously and working for it.”
After Thanksgiving, the Cobras will enter the playoffs whilst maintaining cautious confidence. As Coach Winston said, they don’t know much about their greatest opponents yet, but in their recent games and record, they’ve proved themselves to be a formidable team, and they will do their best to turn that reputation into another banner.