Lee among top epeeist in state

Hun senior has developed quickly

By: Bob Nuse
   Rey Gonzalez has seen plenty of fencers come into the Hun School program with very little experience. That’s just the nature of the sport.
   "Most of the people who come into the program have never fenced before," Gonzalez said. "Very few of them come in with previous experience. We have a few of them who have fenced before, but that doesn’t happen very often."
   Generally, fencers progress over time to where they become valuable members of the program. Some, like senior Bobae Lee, progress more quickly than others.
   "She’s a senior now and she started when she was a sophomore," Gonzalez said. "She developed really quick. At the time she started her captain was Franziska Albers and she was able to train with her. That really helped her develop as a fencer because Franziska was so good and also helped her a lot.
   "Bobae is a hard worker and she takes the extra lessons. It’s something she really likes to do and she’ll come when we have club night to get extra practice."
   Now, as a senior, Lee is the talented fencer who is leading her epee squad to levels previously unseen at Hun. Earlier this year she helped the squad to a best-ever third-place finish at the Santelli Tournament. And in dual meets, she has lost just once all season.
   "When our epee team got third place at the Santelli I was really happy with that," said Lee, a resident of Seoul, Korea. "I was happy for myself, but also for the other fencers. I was on the A strip, but if the B and C strip fencers didn’t do well, we wouldn’t win."
   Lee, along with Cindy Tsai, Alex Connell and Natalie Taggart, have formed perhaps the best girls’ epee team the school has ever put together. The third-place finish at the Santelli is the highest the school has ever placed in the weapon.
   For Lee, the successful senior season is capping off a career that has seen her make quite an ascent from being a beginner two years ago.
   "She struggled with English at the time and had some communication problems," Gonzalez said. "But she has really come along and she has always been devoted to it. She has developed into a nice fencer. We fenced the other day. She’s the only epee fencer in the school who can give me a bout. I showed her some things and she picked them up quickly. She is a very quick learner and has a beautiful style."
   "When I first came to the United States, my first reason was to study to get into college and major in business," Lee said. "But I also wanted to do a lot of school activities and sports. I decided to do fencing. I ran cross country for a couple of years, but I have asthma and my father didn’t want me to do it this year."
   In Korea, Lee was able to participate in Kendo, which is in a small way similar to fencing, but with wooden blades. That sport is more advanced at this point than fencing, which is beginning to catch on.
   "It’s actually pretty famous in Korea," Lee said. "We’ve had people in the Olympics, but you have to be able to find a place to train and compete. Korean schools don’t do much with sports teams, so you have to be able to find a place for sports like fencing."
   Lee has certainly found her niche at Hun, where she is part of a program that continues to get better and better. This year, she has her sights set on doing well at the prep state championships, where the Raiders were second as a team last year and Lee was third as an individual.
   "I’m hoping to do a little better this year," Lee said. "That’s why I’ve been putting in a lot of time. This is my last year of high school fencing and I want to do well."
   "There are maybe two girls in the state who are better than she is," Gonzalez added. "There is one girl at Voorhees and one at Hackettstown. She is pretty much above everybody else. Nothing else has been close. Her one loss in a dual match was when she was sick. And she had her loss at the Santelli."
   With four meets and the state tournament left, Lee hopes to have a strong end to this season, before looking to continue her career at the college level.
   "I definitely want to do it in college," she said. "I’ve applied to UPenn and Columbia and they have good fencing teams. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope I can keep on fencing.
   "I want to go to some fencing tournaments and national tournaments. I’ll try to do that in the spring. And I’ll also do club practice."
   And she’ll continue to get better and better, which is something she has been doing since starting the sport as a sophomore.