Boys lunge into fencing with season opener

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Senior Daniel Restifo faces off against Hunter High school sophomore Spencer Gordon-Sand. Photo taken <br /><figcaption id=Photo by Kimberly Rodney

The PSAL boys fencing opener hosted by Townsend Harris jump-started the boys fencing season on Sunday, September 15, just after the first week of school. The all-day tournament had an early start at 9 A.M. and involved schools from all over New York City.

Although the team only had a couple of weeks to practice, the seniors paved the way with their experience. “Andy was very impressive; he was able to stay focused, and so were Dan and Jordan. They were calm even when they were behind,” stated Ms. Yan, head coach of the team, about seniors Andy Yeung, Daniel Restifo, and Jordan Brandwein, who have all competed on the team since they were freshmen.

With 50 fencers coming from 11 different schools, the boys team had a lot of tough competition, and it didn’t help that most  competition came from other boroughs.

Yeung described his performance in the tournament, saying,“I placed ninth and then in the second round I screwed up,” before stressing that the competition was extremely early in their season.

Volunteer assistant coach Ms. Debra Michlewitz added, “We didn’t make it to the top six, but another touch would’ve put us on to the next round.” She is optimistic about the future, as are the players.

“Now heading into the season we know what we can improve upon and just build in order to become better competitors,” Restifo said. “The team was pleased with how today went and we should be, but hopefully it leaves us even more excited and motivated to succeed as a unit as the season progresses.” He is already looking ahead, along with Yeung, who thinks that the opener will help them get ready for playoffs.

Ms. Michlewitz stated, “Usually this would establish who would be a starter,” but due to the early nature of the tournament, she acknowledged that it would instead help them learn what they had to improve.

The atmosphere of the tournament was intense. Fencing is a combat sport that can easily evoke emotions. It is not uncommon to hear loud yells of frustration or aggression, which is something that can be intimidating, especially to less seasoned competitors. That didn’t stop junior Evangelos Armatas from competing in the first official fencing match of his career. Armatas didn’t shy away from the competition, coming in 15th place overall. Brandwein said, “We were all impressed by the performance of our newcomers. We all are looking forward to more challenges that we can face as a team.”

Armatas added, “It was exciting. Practice was good, it paid off,” when reflecting on his performance towards the end of the opener, as he watched the finalists compete for first place.

While the usual strong competitors like Hunter College High School, Stuyvesant, and Mckee/Staten Island Technical High School were there, Ms. Yan said, “I wish a few other Queens competitors showed up.” On the other hand, Ms. Michlewitz mentioned, “It is a good reminder of what fencing in other boroughs is like.” More Queens schools other than Francis Lewis and Cardozo would be like a preview to who Townsend Harris will face in the regular season.

Their first match will be held in late September against Jamaica High School.