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GHS Fencing wins Connecticut State Boys’ Fencing Championship with Boys’ Foil and Sabre Gold Medals, and also wins Girls’ Sabre Gold Medal

GHS boys' fencing teams with coaches
GHS boys' fencing teams with coaches

Greenwich High School made history this year by winning the Burton E. Moore, Connecticut State Boys’ Fencing Championship, shield, for the first time, on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  The GHS boys’ epee, foil and sabre teams, and the GHS girls’ sabre team were each quarterfinalists in the event, and the boys’ foil and sabre teams, and the girls’ sabre team, each took home the gold medal.

The boys’ foil team closed out their competitors in the quarter and semi-final rounds, using various combinations of the team’s top foil fencers –Harry McGuire, Kai Kobayashi, Faran Savitz, and Nat Ung.  The championship match pitted the foilists against the host Guilford team in front of a large home crowd, and was won by GHS 5-2.  The last and deciding bout was won by Harry McGuire, who clawed a 5-4 win over his opponent after an initial 1-4 deficit. McGuire also had a personal achievement for the day, by never once losing a bout in foil, whether regular season, tournament, or post season, for the four years he fenced for GHS.

The boys’ epee team with yeoman fencer Harry McGuire, together with Nick Parry and Simon Perry failed to defeat the top ranked boys’ team from Hopkins School in New Haven in the quarter-finals, but went on to beat the team from Bridgeport Central in a close 5-4 match despite forfeits (including a win over the second ranked epee fencer in the state), but eventually suffered a technical loss to the team from Norwich when it had to surrender two bouts to a walkover due to conflicts between the foil and epee events.   Overall, the team improved from its eighth place ranking to finish sixth.

Both the boys’ and girls’ sabre teams went straight to the semi-finals as a result of their top seed ranking. The boys’ sabre team, comprising James Plewniak, Misha Shender and Harrison Tune, defeated defeated their semi-final opponent, Fairfield High School 5-0 in a strong opening, and went on to beat Hopkins 5-2 for the title.   Maddi Herne, Juliette McGuiness, and Nika Shender fenced for the girls’ team, and were dominant from the start, posting a 5-1 win over North Haven in the first round and a 5-0 win over Hopkins in the gold medal match. This was the first season for saber at team states, and Greenwich had the top ranking squads going in and finishing the competition.

Head coach Don Grunewald was ecstatic over the victories.  “What an end to a very wild and at times challenging season. We overcame weather, illness, and scheduling problems to get to this point. That is impressive. We used a very esoteric strategy developed over several days which we called “crazy” or “wildcat offense”, and I think that surprised our opponents. I was proud at how much improvement there was this year, especially at our ability to win in close pressure situations, which is what we practiced repeatedly this year. It was a monster day.”

Coach Grunewald and Assistant Coach Euchung Ung, who have both fenced internationally, are already working to improve the school’s fencing program and provide GHS fencers with better training and more resources.  The program, which accepts and trains both novice and experienced fencers, re-starts in December.  Fencers from recent years of the program have gone on to fence for NCAA and club teams at colleges throughout the country, and the coaches hope to continue the success of the program.

For more information about GHS’s fencing program, contact Donald Grunewald at donald.grunewald@gmail.com, or Euchung Ung at eung555@gmail.com.



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