Morgan Fencing Caps Off Best Season with Nice Day at States
The Morgan boys’ and girls’ fencing program had its best season in program history this winter and capped it off by putting together a quality performance at the Team State Championships at East Lyme High School on March 10. (Photo courtesy of James Barnett)
The Morgan co-ed fencing program recently wrapped up its season by turning in a solid showing at the Team State Championships that were held at East Lyme High School on March 10. Morgan’s boys’ and girls’ épée and sabre teams made the cut for the meet based on their performances from the previous week’s Individual State Championships. The boys’ sabre team finished in fourth place, while the épée squad took sixth place. On the girls’ side, the épée and sabre teams both finished fourth for Morgan. For the season, the girls’ fencing team’s overall record was 12-5, and the boys finished with eight wins.
Head Coach James Barnett feels pleased with what each of his teams achieved this year. The Huskies picked up some big wins against difficult competition and improved significantly from the previous season.
“We started in the fall of 2010. We were a club sport for three years, and we’ve been a varsity sport for four. This has probably been our best season so far. I always have high expectations, and these guys have met those expectations,” said Barnett. “The girls’ team went 12-5, and the boys 8-9. The boys only won two matches last year, and the girls were .500. For the first time ever, the girls’ team beat North Haven two out of three matches.”
At the Team State Championships, Morgan’s top-seeded girls’ épée squad of senior captain Olivia Silver, senior Mary Kate Staunton, All-State First Team junior Jennifer Accetta, and sophomore Lily Kozak defeated No. 8 seed St. Bernard by a 5-4 score in the opening round. Then the Huskies went up against No. 4 seed Guilford and lost 5-1. Finally, Morgan matched up with No. 6 seed Waterford to determine third place and took a 5-4 defeat. Staunton, Accetta, and Kozak had three wins among their bouts, while Silver had one.
Juniors Olivia Morrissey, Bea Atengco, and Angela Recine comprised the No. 4 seed girls’ sabre team, and they defeated 5th-seeded Fairfield by a 5-4 decision in their opening match. In the next round, the Huskies dropped a 5-2 contest against top-seeded Hopkins. Then in the battle for third place, Morgan lost to No. 2 seed Guilford by the final scored of 5-3. Morrissey finished with four victories, while Atengco and Recine each had three wins.
As for the boys’ side, the No. 6 seed Huskies’ épée squad of junior Scott Accetta, senior Cenzo Saturno, and sophomore Andrew Daly faced No. 3 seed North Haven in the first round and lost 5-0. After that, the Huskies went up against 7th-seeded Greenwich and won a 5-2 contest. For its final match, Morgan faced No. 8 seed Norwich Free Academy and lost 5-0. Accetta went 3-0 in his bouts, and Saturno and Daly grabbed one win apiece.
Juniors Alex Rauccio, Noah Scarpace, and Sean Cockley made up the 6th-seeded boys’ sabre team, which defeated No. 3 seed Greenwich by a 5-3 score in the first round. The Huskies faced No. 2 seed North Haven in the semis and lost 5-1. Then Morgan went up against No. 4 seed Hopkins and took a 5-3 defeat to finish in fourth place. Scarpace recorded five victories, Rauccio had three, and Cockley finished with one win on the day.
Coach Barnett believes that his program’s improvement stems from the increased interest in fencing at Morgan. During the past eight seasons, Barnett has seen the Huskies’ numbers balloon as the influx of many new fencers has provided some depth. Barnett also credits Morgan’s captains and upperclass athletes for recruiting athletes to join the program.
“We went from just four guys in 2010. Now, we’re up to 53 people on the team, and we’re one of the largest teams at Morgan,” Barnett said. “I think that the captains and the seniors on the team have worked hard to recruit from the middle school. We run a summer camp through the rec department. A lot of kids volunteer their time as counselors...It makes the middle-schoolers feel comfortable. They get to know them over the summer, and then they recognize people when the school year starts. It’s a great team as far as looking out for each other and supporting each other.”
The Huskies had three senior captains this season: Gaby Bussiere, who fenced sabre; Nina Kelly, who fenced foil; and Silver, an épée fencer. Barnett feels that their personalities meshed well together and knows that their four years of experience were invaluable.
“They’ve been with the team for four years. Gaby was injured this year, and she came back and worked hard with the team...She’s a strong personality, and she’s been very good for the team. She takes a strong leadership role,” said Barnett, whose assistant coaches were Colleen Mason and Jim Harris. “Nina is the person you go to when you have problems or a tough day. She’s a good person to talk to and get advice. She’s very supportive of the team. She’s a great backbone for the team, and Olivia is a great combination of the two. She helps them all work well together and helps the coaches know who’s starting and who’s going to the state championship.”
Overall, Coach Barnett is most proud about the fact that his athletes were there for each whether or not they were fencing. He believes that his job is to not only prepare the Huskies’ fencers for their bouts, but also for their futures.
“When one squad was down, the other squad picked them up. If épée didn’t have a good day, the sabre or foil would pick them up. That was great about the team,” Barnett said. “Each squad really helped the other. That carried forward from the individual lessons that we teach them…We’re teaching more than just fencing. We want to teach them life lessons.”