It was a rewarding weekend for many Pioneer fencers.
The Pioneer fencers took advantage of the close proximity of a regional tournament the weekend of October 15th and 16th in Twinsburg, Ohio. The Escrime D’Halloween, hosted by Cyrano’s Place, found its home at the Edge athletics center. We took a crew of 8 fencers who were not competing this weekend to set up strips on Friday. Our team, led by junior Nicholas Lazarides, set up 12 grounded strips with scoring equipment in just over 2 hours. Nicholas organized them into teams and assigned tasks to get the strips set up, taped down, and have the scoring equipment installed. The remaining 6 electric strips were set up by the Kent State fencing club (and it took them 2 hours to do 6 strips). A big thank you to our team for their volunteerism for the greater fencing community. The strips they learned to set up lasted through the weekend with no need for repair.
Saturday was the busy day for our team. Senior Kirill Zherebtcov fenced the Junior Men’s Foil, junior Ethan Tan fenced the Junior Men’s Sabre, sophomore Ethan Apanasewicz fenced the Cadet Men’s Epee, and freshman Tessa Lavi fenced the Youth-14 Women’s Epee.
Kirill started strong in his pool and came away with three wins out of six bouts. He lost one bout by one touch against the A-rated fencer in the event. This was a significant improvement over his performances in the other regional events. His teammates came to watch and cheer him on and video his progress. Kirill earned a bye into the round of 16 due to his strong pool performance and as the number 11 seed, had to fence the number 6 seed. Though his opponent was in a higher bracket, Kirill had a great showing and was ahead as the first period neared an end. His opponent caught back up with two quick attacks. Palma, the opponent, started the next round with renewed aggression and continued to land attacks on Kirill to close the bout 15 - 11.
Ethan Tan started the sabre round while the foil was finishing. After working over the mid-Fall break, Ethan was energized and ready for the tournament. He won two bouts in his pool, a significant improvement from the Chicago event just two weeks before. He earned an 11th seed out of the pool and a bye into the round of 16. His first bout was the number 6 seed, a fencer from Columbus. Historically, the Cleveland area is not known for a strong sabre program. Ethan and teammates sophomore Joey Chan and Nicholas Lazarides are working on the Pioneer contribution to a new wave of sabre in northern Ohio. The Columbus area, with its proximity to the Ohio State program, has a wealth of sabre fencers. Ethan landed some strong attacks when he pushed his opponent into an imbalanced position. Ethan scored 5 points in the bout in his loss, but overall had a better showing than his event just a few weeks before.
Ethan Apanasewicz and Tessa Lavi both were facing their first regional event, a step up from the local events they have participated in. The goal for the fencers in their first regional or national event is to score touches, learn from the opponents, and get comfortable with fencing in a larger venue. Ethan did a fantastic job with his pool. He won one bout out of five. One of his losses was by only one point and he planted a great arm touch on the B-rated fencer his his pool. Ethan drew a low seed and had to fence the number 2 seed in the event. His opponent was from Columbus and had a style that was very aggressive. Ethan met the level of aggression and started the bout down, but caught up and kept it close for early in the first period. His opponent adapted and caught Ethan on some counter attacks that separated the scores. Ethan lost the bout 15 - 7; however, he made a good showing and Prabhakar’s next opponent did not manage to put as many touches on him as Ethan had.
Tessa also had a good pool, winning two of her bouts and losing one by one touch. For Tessa, this event was revelatory because she has not had another girl to train with during the fall season. She has had to fence all the boys. She found her reach and fleche attacks to be effective tools and she used them whenever the opportunity presented itself. She was seeded 5th coming out of pools and had to fence the number 4 seed in her first elimination bout. Kirill coached her. Tessa was down at the end of the first period when Kirill talked to her. Right away, she made up the deficit and got ahead. Her opponent closed the gap and once again got ahead by 2. At the next break, Kirill coached her again and she again closed the gap and then she and her opponent traded touches until Tessa’s opponent pulled away and landed one counter attack and a parry riposte to end the bout 15 - 13. It was a strong showing for Tessa’s first regional event.
On Sunday, senior and team captain Obafemi Osunmakinde fenced the Junior Men’s Epee and Ethan Apanasewicz returned to fence the Cadet Men’s Foil.
Ethan’s event had a difficult field of rated fencers throughout the list of competitors and he started with some good fencing. He scored solid touches in his next bout against C-rated David Stringer. Stringer took a more serious posture for the rest of the bout. Unfortunately, Ethan strained his back during this bout and could not continue to fence.
Oba started at the same time as Ethan and had a pool of seven fencers, one of which was the B-rated fencer in the tournament. Oba was eager for the challenge and also facing a regional tournament for the first time. He had three victories out of the six bouts, dropping one of the bouts 5-4. He used his patience to beat a fencer who bested him a few weeks ago in the pool. He was seeded 7th coming out of the pool and had to fence an opponent from Grand Rapids, MI, who he fenced during the pool. Oba was more composed and prepared for his 15 touch bout. He made quick hits to the arm to get the lead and then used double-touches to maintain the gap he created. Oba closed the bout confidently with a 15 - 6 win. By defeating a non-teammate in a 15 touch bout, Oba officially earned his varsity letter for the year. His next opponent was the number 2 seed. His opponent expected Oba to be an easy win; however Oba started the bout with two quick arm touches. Nikita Lasiychuk became more serious and aggressive after these points and closed the gap. Nikita got a lead that he maintained with double touches as the bout went on. Oba scored some nice points and Nikta was able to meet those points and maintain the lead. When it was over, Nikita won 15 - 12. Oba finished in 6th place overall, earning a medal for the team!
By attending the event, Kirill, Tessa, Ethan Tan and Ethan Apanasewicz all earned points that can help them qualify for the national championships this summer. Please congratulate your Pioneer fencers when you see them. Our next home tournament is November 6th. Please come out to support your Pioneer Fencers and classmates!