Hun girls win prep fencing title

Gonzalez, Lee among individual champs

By: Bob Nuse
   Sara Gonzalez knew pretty early on that this was going to be a special season for the Hun School girls’ fencing team.
   "Everybody really wanted it and they worked hard all season," the Hun senior said. "From last year to this year all the girls worked hard and improved a lot. We were definitely ready to win."
   The Raiders capped off the best season ever for the girls’ squad when they captured their first state championship by topping defending champion Oak Knoll in a fence-off. In addition to the team title, Gonzalez won her third straight individual foil title and Bobae Lee captured the individual epee title.
   "We had a tremendous season," said Gonzalez, the daughter of Hun co-coach Rey Gonzalez. "As long as I’ve been here, this is the best we’ve ever done. Everyone was so dedicated."
   That dedication started with the leadership of a solid group of seniors. They laid the groundwork for what would become the most successful team yet.
   "I think so much of our success had to do with the terrific senior leadership of Sara, Bobae, Lauren (Kvalheim) and Cindy Tsai," Hun co-coach Eric Wolarsky said. "They really carried the load for us. They worked together and did a great job. We knew that if the other five fencers did enough to keep us close, the seniors would get the job done.
   "I think it’s doubly satisfying this year because Sara is one of the best captains we’ve ever had. She’s a great individual fencer, but she and the other seniors put so much into making sure we had a successful team season as well."
   At the state meet, Gonzalez, Kvalheim and Jae Eun Chong won the team foil title, while Lee, Tsai, Alex Connell and Natalie Taggert won the epee title. In the end, it took a 6-2 win over Oak Knoll in the fence off to secure the championship after the teams had been tied after 108 bouts.
   "It was actually quite interesting the way it worked out with Oak Knoll," Wolarsky said. "We had lost a close match to them earlier in the season, and then at the state meet we had beaten them, 14-13, in our head-to-head matches. But the way it works at states is you still go to a fence-off, even though we had beaten them. And then in the fence off we won, 6-2. So we just kept getting better."
   The Hun championship snapped a five-year reign for Oak Knoll, which couldn’t hold off an inspired Raider team this year.
   "Our team is really close this year," Gonzalez said. "We’ve really grown this year and I think that helped us. At the beginning of the year we had hoped we could do this, but we weren’t really sure. It was just a great way to end this season."
   "The great thing about this team is that they are entirely home grown," Wolarsky said. "In the past we’ve had real successful boys teams that have had two, three or four of the fencers who came to us with a lot of experience. But all the girls on this team learned to fence at Hun, with the exception of Sara who has been fencing for a long time but is coached by her dad, who is the coach here.
   "These girls have been taught by us and I think that makes this special. It’s a great group that has worked hard and really deserves this."
   On the boys’ side, Hun’s Matt Kolasa won the state title in the sabre as the Raiders finished third as a team.
   "Matt had a terrific season," Wolarsky said. "He missed the Cetrullo earlier this season because he had to go to a USFA trial, but that’s fine. When you’re a national fencer like Matt is, you realize that those things take priority over the team here. He’s ranked third in the under-17 division and will represent the United States in the Junior World Championships."
   Kolasa helped the sabre team, which also included Justin Nealis and Matt Care, win the sabre team title.
   Kolasa’s success, as well as the success of the girls’ team, capped off a great year of fencing for the Raiders, who seemed to know from the beginning that this could be a special season.