Mark was presented with the NJ Cup at the NJ Division’s Annual Meeting this past Saturday at Drew University. The presentation immediately followed the Garden State Games tournament in which he placed first in the Under-19 Men’s Saber event.
This competition, sponsored by the New Jersey Division of the US Fencing Association, features a year-long series of tournaments in which the participants compete for points by finishing as high as possible in multiple events in a given weapon.
The way the competition is structured, a fencer earns more points for finishing higher in events with more, stronger competitors. Fencers compete in the weapon(s) of their choice: Saber, Epee or Foil. At the end of the season, the top three finishers of the men’s and women’s competitions are each awarded with the Cup, which is a beautiful, engraved crystal obelisk.
Given that the NJ Division, the local governing body of fencing, is the largest and most active division in the country, the local talent is strong and the competition is fierce.
The field of fencers competing in Men’s Saber numbered more than 150 in total.
The sport is growing; New Jersey has added several new high school fencing varsities in the past two years, so that there are now more than 50 high school varsities offering the chance to train in this challenging individual, varsity, collegiate, and Olympic sport.
Mark, currently completing his sophomore year at , was first exposed to fencing while attending Central Middle School in Long Hill Township in the (then) start-up program, Kids Can Fence.
A natural in Saber, he has also competed in Epee, and qualified for two years each of national-level Junior Olympics and Summer National Championships. He has studied with some of the most highly-regarded coaches in NJ and NYC and as a result of his achievements will receive a stipend of $250 toward this year’s Summer Nationals, which will take place in Anaheim, CA.
Under the tutelage of former GL Head Coach Vincent Paragano, himself a very active Saber and Veteran competitor (winner of the recent Canadian-American Fencing Championship in the Veteran-50 event and silver-level finisher of the Veteran’s Men’s Saber NJ Cup), Mark has had a strong varsity showing thus far and has taken home the gold medal at the Montclair Frosh-Soph Invitational fencing tournament two years in a row.
The Men’s Saber Cup is given in honor of Peter Westbrook, a 6-time Olympic Sabreur (1984 Bronze Medal winner), 14-time National Champion and ongoing supporter of fencing opportunities for disadvantaged inner-city kids.