Hun, PDS fencers split

Raider girls win, Panther boys prevail

By: Bob Nuse
   Debra Chuang and Ian McCue took similar paths to high school fencing.
   And now the two are hoping to take similar paths in helping their teams enjoy successful seasons.
   Chuang, a junior, helped the Hun School girls’ fencing team open the season with a 17-10 win over Princeton Day School. McCue, who is a senior, helped the PDS boys open the season with a 16-11 win over Hun.
   Both fencers came to high school knowing very little about the sport. But now, each is among the leaders and top fencers on their respective teams.
   "I had a friend who was on the fencing team and she told me what a great sport it was, so I started with it and fell in love with it right away," said Chuang, who came to Hun from California as a freshman and currently lives in Taiwan. "I started out as a freshman. Before that, I didn’t really know much about the sport. But as soon as I started to fence, I realized how much I enjoyed it.
   "It’s fun to be one of the leaders on the team. I like being able to help the other fencers on the team. I’ll still be here next year, so I want to do all I can to help the new girls on the team to become better fencers."
   Chuang won both of her foil bouts in the win over PDS, then headed out the door to a lacrosse tryout at Giants Stadium. Hun was also helped to the girls’ win by senior captain Alex Connell, who won all three of her epee bouts, as well as freshman Julia Wong, who was 3-0 at sabre. Cimarron Sharon, Alex Cheetham, Miranda Sitney and Lauren Holstein all won two bouts in the meet.
   "We have some talented newcomers in freshmen Julia Wong, Cimarron Sharon and Valencia Washington," said Hun co-coach Eric Wolarsky, whose team is off until a Jan. 5 meet with Gill-St. Bernard’s. "Julia Wong was fencing in her first varsity match. Cimarron Sharon is a 12-year-old freshman who already has several years of fencing experience. Valencia Washington missed the meet with an injury, but she is a talented fencer.
   "Our whole epee squad, with Alex Connell, Lauren Holstein, Lauren Kosiorek and Amanda Bullington, is back from last year. So we have a lot of experience there. In sabre, Amanda Osofsky is a senior who is back from last year and we also have Alex Cheetham."
   The opening win helps the Raiders build on the optimism with which they came into the season. And having some good newcomers join some talented holdovers could make this a special season.
   "We’re very optimistic on the girls’ side," Wolarsky said. "What we have now is the final remnants of our prep championship team from two years ago, and they’re mixed with some talented newcomers. So we have a nice group there. Julia and Cimarron both fenced before they came to Hun. So even though they are freshmen, they have experience.
   "I think when you put it all together, we could have a strong season. Some of the veteran fencers that we have do not have a lot of varsity match experience. I think for the whole team, it will be a voyage of discovery. The fencers are going to grow together and find out what they are made of."
   Chuang, who has been with the team since she was a freshman, feels the same way about the team’s fortunes.
   "We have a pretty strong squad this year," she said. "We have a lot of new freshmen with a lot of talent. They just need to do more drills and practice and get experience in the matches. Hopefully, next year we’ll be really good. But we also think we can be good this year."
   Chuang will spend the Hun winter break at home in Taiwan, which will keep her away from the fencing strip. But when she returns, she’ll be ready to go.
   "I’ll work on my footwork and condition and try to stay ready while I am at home," said Chuang, who is hoping to either fence or play lacrosse at the college level. "We come back to school and have a few practices, then we have our big Santelli meet. I don’t get to do a lot at home because I have to leave all of my equipment (at Hun). There is just too much of it for me to carry on the plane."
   McCue doesn’t have such worries. Although PDS is also off for two weeks, he’ll continue to fence at the Bucks County Academy of Fencing. He’s been working out there three times a week since starting with the sport as a sophomore. And in a short period of time, he has come a long way.
   "My mom always wanted me to do it," said McCue, who qualified in epee and foil at the Under-17 Junior Olympic qualifier on Sunday and will compete in the Junior Olympics later this winter. "I had been doing swimming, but the way our schedule is set up you can only do one independent study, so I decided to go out for fencing.
   "It was real nice to win that first meet because we had lost an A strip epee fencer from last year and a sabre fencer too. Nick (Krywopusk), Trevor (Hummel) and I all go to Bucks County and we compete outside of school. So we have some experienced fencers."
   The win was a nice way for PDS to open the season. The Panthers will look to continue that success when they return to action on Jan. 5 against North Hunterdon.
   "I think we have a chance to take it really far this year," McCue said. "The epee and foil squads are our two strengths. Our sabre fencers are still young but they’re hard working and they’re looking better all the time."
   The same is true of McCue, who started as a novice and is now a highly accomplished fencer.
   "I guess I was able to pick it up pretty quickly," said McCue, a Yardley, Pa. resident. "Once I started, I really liked it. I’ve been working hard at trying to get better and I’ve been going to a lot of competitions. It’s a fun sport."
   PDS coach Paul Epply-Schmidt added, "Overall, I was pleased with the first match. We’re a little shy on numbers for the girls. The numbers are a little stronger with the boys. We’ve got some boys like Trevor, Nick and Ian who do a lot of fencing outside of school. So they have a lot of experience. We also have Alex Clint, one of our girls, who is fencing outside of school."
   Both PDS teams figure to be fine as the season goes on. And Wolarsky expects the Hun boys to come around as well.
   "I think our boys’ team is similar in talent to the team that beat PDS on the final bout last year when we fenced them in the first match," Wolarsky said. "This time, we did not win the critical bouts that we needed to win. Last year they came back and beat us the second time we fenced. Maybe this year we’ll be able to turn the tables on them."