The Governor Livingston fencers are in fine form for the District 3 tournament taking place in Livingston this Sunday, January 26th. District 3 is well-known to be the toughest and most competitive of the four districts in the NJSIAA fencing community. It is also home to Maplewood's Columbia High School, whose boys or girls team has been the state champion for each of the past four years.
However, the Lady Highlanders are ready to throw a wrench
into Columbia's plans this year. The GL
women are currently ranked at second place in the state, right on the heels of
last year's Santelli champions, Bernards.
With an 8-2 record so far this year, the girls team has bounced back
from significant graduation losses last year in foil and sabre and stands
strong on its own merits. According to Captain Michelle Drobish, "At the
end of last season, I knew that we all had to work really hard in the
off-season to be where we were last season. Coming in 3rd overall for
Santelli's was such a great feeling because it was even better than how we did
last year. Both our sabre and épée squads placed 4th this year which clearly
shows how much we've improved in just a year. I'm so proud of everyone on the
team and I know that with our passion for fencing, we can achieve anything."
Despite early dual meet losses to Bernards and Columbia, the
team is in the midst of a winning streak, having won their last five games with
margins of no less than 11 touches each.
During the recent Super Saturday event when they hosted Lakeland for a
meet on the Governor Livingston stage, the
girls firmly established their prowess in a landslide victory of 23-4, an
accomplishment that must have seemed eerily familiar when they did the same
against West Essex in their last meet. The
sabre squad, led by Drobish, Julia Yang, and [sister] Chrissy Drobish, was a
big part of the reason the girls' team was identified by the Star Ledger as the
'team to watch' at Districts. The
starting épée squad, including seniors Alaina Jennings, Lauren Gonnelli and
Jacelyn Greenwald as well as junior Emily Xu is also rock solid and is
already on the verge of surpassing the total number of wins they earned during
last year's entire season. The foil
squad, while relatively young this year, has stepped up to the piste and is
ready to make a name for themselves.
When Drobish talks about this year's team, her passion
really comes through: "What I love
about our team is that we NEVER go down without a fight and that's what we
teach try to teach the underclassmen: to never give up. No matter how we do at Districts, we'll be
back year after year to represent our school and I think that's what really
The men are also primed and ready for a victory. The boys' team currently holds a 6-3 record
but is also one of the few to have consistently played difficult
opponents. The boys' team this year
boasts twin peaks in sabre and foil. The
starting sabre squad, featuring returning members Mark Watson, Danny
Marchelitis and Ian Fan, took the gold at the District tournament last year and
is ready to repeat that feat once again.
The foil squad, led by Captain Ben Carlick along with new team members
Sean Li and Alex Ju and stalwart John Hanna, has upped the ante with a very
impressive season thus far as well.
The boys' épée squad has grown a great deal this season and is ready to complement the other weapons. A recent meet against Newark Academy shows how far the GL épées have come. With the score neck and neck the entire way, at the beginning of the last set of épée bouts the score was tied 12-12. GL's Jake Tyler got several touches against William Delaney but lost on a double-touch at 5-4 making the score 13-12 Newark. Then Andrew Savino of GL fenced against Jason Suh, and came from behind to win the bout 5-4, again tying the score at 13-13. Finally Brandon Donohue, who as an épée rookie stole the show against West Windsor/Plainsboro-South at the Bernards quad, came up against C-rated Lyle Poisson. Poisson quickly took a 2-0 lead, followed by a double-touch setting the score at 3-1. Donohue took the next three touches, giving GL the lead at 4-3 while the crowd went wild! Poisson then tied the score 4-4 with 17 seconds to go. Time ran out; Newark Academy won priority, and although Newark won the final touch in overtime, clearly the GL men are ready for their moment in the sun.
astutely observes about the boys' team, "We usually don’t get mentioned
when the 'teams to watch' or 'fencers to watch' articles come out, yet our team
ends up outperforming and often defeating many of the teams and people that
are. That’s something that I think is really special about us. Being treated as the underdogs just makes us
work harder and we've gotten stronger." The boys stand ready to prove that come Sunday.
(all photos credit Allan Fan)