After Rye Country Day’s match against top-ranked Horace Mann February 2, Head Coach Joe Rue ebulliently said, “I am the luckiest man alive — I have a great job with fantastic kids and three coaches who are like brothers.”
By Melanie Cane
After Rye Country Day’s match against top-ranked Horace Mann February 2, Head Coach Joe Rue ebulliently said, “I am the luckiest man alive — I have a great job with fantastic kids and three coaches who are like brothers.” He added, “Although we started the season with many inexperienced fencers, they have been fighting hard and stepping up to the plate. We are very proud of their growth and performance.”
The match results, however, were not cause for exuberance. On the Boys’ side, epee won 8-1, saber lost 5-4, and foil lost 6-3. On the Girls’ teams, saber won 8-2, epee and foil both lost 7-2.
The highlight of the match was Boys’ saber. Freshman Alex Rivera had his first official bout at the end of the day and all 34 of his teammates gathered to cheer him on. Rivera came back from a 0-4 deficit to win 5-4.
All four coaches agree that the Boys’ saber squad has shown the most improvement this season. Coach Patrick Early calls them “an embarrassment of riches.” The boys have gone from a few wins over the past couple of years to a record of over .500 this year. Max Pil, a senior who joined the team for the first time this year, but had fenced in middle school, has “raised the bar,” said Early. Pil placed third in the Independent School Fencing League Tournament on January 30. Squad leader Alex Goddard, Jack Briano, Jack Engles, and Will Asness have shown tremendous growth in their agility, footwork, and form and have helped the younger fencers immensely. Early also credits Girls’ squad leader Belle Koh, the only saber fencer who fences outside of school, for the team’s rise.
Epee coach Leif Halverson and Boys’ Epee squad leader Jonathan Schulman feel the same about their squad. “The novices have shown so much improvement and the veterans help all of them every day.”
Foil coaches Rue and Kyle Mitschele are equally as proud of their squads. Rue relayed a story about Edward Kim, the Boys’ Foil squad leader. “He requested that I sit him out of a bout so that a younger squad member who had not been in an actual bout could take his place and get some experience.”
Girls’ Epee squad leader junior Kasey Luo, the top fencer in the squad, is teaching the younger fencers to make adjustments during their bouts. “You can’t have a fixed routine in your mind because every competitor is different. To be successful you have to be fast and precise.” Her favorite move is the Prise de Fer, an engagement of the blades that forces the opponent’s weapon into a new line.
The Wildcats, whose record is 9-5, are currently ranked third out of nine teams in the ISFL league.