Fencers Compete in Packed Weekend of Tournaments

Saturday and Sunday each played host to tournaments for many of our fencers in various events.

This weekend was a back to back set of tournaments for our Pioneer fencers. If you consider that each weapon is its own team, then we have three teams: foil, epee, and sabre. Keeping that in mind, we had an event at Hooked on Fencing in North Royalton on Saturday where our epee team competed. On Sunday, WRA hosted its first tournament of the season: a D and Under tournament for foil and sabre. 

Saturday’s event took our epee team of senior captain Oba Osunmakinde and three new epee team members, sophomore Ethan Apanasewicz, junior Mingzheng (Josh) Li, and freshman Yunwoo Choi to compete against the other unrated fencers from the host club and one Case Western Reserve University student. Oba and Yunwoo were in the same pool of five fencers. Oba went for two wins and two losses, scoring 15 touches and losing 9 in total against all his opponents. He finished second in his pool. Yunwoo went for three wins and one loss, winning in an overtime touch against Oba and scored a total of 17 touches and losing 11 against all opponents. Though they both shared an indicator (difference of touches scored and touches lost) of 6, Yunwoo’s higher percentage of wins put him in first for the pool. Ethan Apanasewicz, in his first epee tournament off campus, was in a pool of six fencers and went for one victory and four losses. He scored 14 points against his opponents but gave up 21 for an indicator of -7. He had to adjust to some smaller opponents but when he faced the university student, had his best bout of the day. The two went back and forth on distance plays and Ethan scored impressive touches to the arm. Josh Li, in his first epee tournament ever, was in a pool of five where he earned one victory and three defeats. He scored 12 points and lost 19 against all his opponents. As a rule, the goal of any fencer in their first tournament is to earn points and not focus on victories. We are proud of each of our epeeists for pulling out at least one win in their pool round. 

Going into the elimination bracket, Ethan earned a 13th seed, Josh a 12th seed, Oba an 8th seed, and Yunwoo a 5th seed. In an elimination bracket, this meant that Josh would face Yunwoo in their first elimination bout. Ethan had to face the #4 seed who had won an event earlier in the day. Oba had to face the #9 seed. 

Oba faced a young man who used his distance exceptionally well to stay away from Oba’s reach and then made quick fleche attacks (running attacks) to catch Oba off guard. The bout went back and forth early on in scoring but after the first break, Oba’s opponent, the eventual winner of the tournament, got a quick few touches to establish a lead that was hard to recover from. 

Ethan’s opponent came off very confident from his wins earlier in the day. Ethan used his reach and strength in the bout to push through his opponent’s defense for many touches early in the bout. As the bout progressed, Ethan’s opponent made some well timed actions after Ethan finished his attacks to get a lead that he carried to a 15 -11 win. 

Yunwoo and Josh had an epic first bout where newcomer Josh set up an early lead over Yunwoo. The bout went into the third period with Yunwoo making well timed attacks to slowly pick away at the lead and bring it even. Both fencers earned double touches (both fencers score if they hit within 1/25th of a second) to keep the score even but moving closer to the winning mark of 15. At 12-12 they each scored separate points to bring it to 13 all when Yunwoo’s experience and explosive attacks allowed him to reach Josh and close the bout 15 - 13. 

Yunwoo would now face Ethan’s opponent, Amer Alalami, in the quarter-final. The bout was close throughout, with both fencers rallying points. Alalami got a few points that opened a gap between the two and then finished the bout at 15 - 11. The young epee team has new goals to reach and a few weeks to accomplish them before the regional event in Twinsburg. 

Sunday allowed the remaining teams to compete in sabre and foil here at WRA. The sabre event was small, with only three fencers, so they agreed to fence two rounds of pools before the elimination round. Sabre is not widely fenced in Northern Ohio, so rallying competitors to fill a tournament is not easily done. Junior Ethan Tan and Sophomore Joey Chan competed against one of the fencers from Cyrano’s Place (Lakewood, OH) for the event. In the first round, Ethan Tan jumped out with victories over both opponents using his speed and strong attacks. Joey earned points in both bouts using good tactical actions and a strong defense that continues to improve from week to week. In the second round, Ben Switala from Cyrano’s Place made adjustments to his actions to come away with both victories. In the pool. Joey surprised Ethan with some well timed stop cuts and parry-riposte actions to take their bout 5-3. In the elimination round, Ethan and Joey fenced the semi-final bout. Joey started off with a lead in the first period by landing long attacks and executing well timed stop hits and parries. It was his best fencing in sabre to date. Ethan made serious adjustments and went on the attack to even the score in the second period and pull out the win at 15-14. Another epic bout between two of our Pioneers. In the final, Ben Switala made well timed attacks and used his distance well to put Ethan off balance. Ethan kept the bout close and rallied a string of points to come within three points but couldn’t pull off the win. 

The foil event hosted 14 fencers from Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan. Team captain and senior Kirill Zherebtcov was joined by juniors Ganza Karamaga, Cavin Xue, and Nicholas Lazarides along with sophomore Ethan Apanasewicz and freshman Aiden Sohn in the event. The fencers were broken into two pools of seven to split the field. Kirill won all six pool bouts and allowed only 4 touches against in the round, scoring 30. In his pool, Aiden (in his first tournament representing WRA) did not pull out a win but scored a total of 8 points in the round. Ganza Karamaga was in the same group and earned two victories and scored 14 points in the round. In the other pool of 7, Ethan earned four victories, scoring 24 points and giving up 18 with some great attacks and strong parry-riposte actions. Nicholas earned two victories, earning 16 points and giving up 28. Cavin did not earn any victories and earned 15 points. Nicholas is developing a game of fearless attacks where he puts all his speed into his actions. Cavin’s tactical approach earned him some great touches in the pool. 

The elimination round saw Kirill seeded 1st, Ethan 5th, Ganza 11th, Nicholas 12th, Cavin 13th, and Aiden 14th. Kirill earned a bye for the first round, but Ethan and Nicholas had to fence to make it into the round of 8. Ganza faced the 6th seed from Wadsworth Fencing Academy. Cavin had to fence the #4 seed, Ben Switala. Aiden fenced the #3 seed, Connor Lindow from Shaker Heights. Ganza pulled out an upset over the higher seed in his bout. Ganza’s long attacks and ability to hit uncommon lines kept him in a close bout that traded leads many times. From a tie at 12, Ganza landed well timed attacks where he found the opportunity to finish when his opponent was guessing where Ganza would hit. Cavin’s bout with Mr. Switala was a tough one. He landed some outstanding parry-riposte actions but could not fend off enough attacks. Ethan and Nicholas had yet another epic Pioneer battle with Nicholas taking an early lead with his trademark fast attacks. Ethan made adjustments to his distance and started a comeback with strong defensive actions. Once Ethan pulled even the lead traded hands into the last period where he was able to finish the bout 15 - 11. In the round of 8, Kirill faced Matt Seljan, one of the fencers from Cyrano’s Place. Matt got a quick two points before Kirill brought it back and took control of the bout. Kirill’s fast hand and feet allowed him to complete clean and well timed attacks as well as excellent defensive parry-riposte actions to win the bout 15 - 7. Ethan faced Ben Switala for his quarter final bout. The two traded a lot of bladework with their strong hands but Ben’s experience helped him overcome Ethan in a 15 - 6 win. Ganza next faced the #3 Lindow where Lindow’s unusual style and long reach made it a bout of unusual fencing all based on timing and misdirection. Lindow took the win 15 - 7. Kirill’s next opponent was Switala and though this was not the final, the fencing was the best of the day. The two traded long attacks using the whole strip multiple times before even a single touch was scored. Kirill caught an early lead but Switala worked methodically to narrow the gap and bring the scores even at 12. By switching tactics and his distance, Ben stole the timing from Kirill in the last few touches to take the bout. Ben ultimately won the foil event, defeating Dominic Nazario from Plymouth / Ann Arbor fencing. 

Our foil team worked hard with two consecutive weekends of tournaments and showed strong growth in the short turn around. Our next home event will be November 6th in the Memorial  Gym. We were grateful for the students who came out today to cheer on their fellow Pioneers and hope more of you can make it to the next event.