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The Guilford girls’ fencing team claimed first place for the sixth-straight year at the Team State Championships at Fitch High School on March 7. The boys’ squad took second place at states. (Photo by Meglin Bodner/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Guilford girls’ fencing team continued its reign of state dominance by earning a first-place finish at the championship meet last week. The Indians’ boys’ team put forth a fine performance in its own right with a second-place performance in states.
On March 7, Guilford’s boys’ and girls’ fencing teams competed at the Team State Championships at Fitch High School. Bolstered by victories from its épée and saber teams, the girls’ squad grabbed state gold by taking first place overall for the sixth year in a row. The boys’ team narrowly finished in second place behind Hand.
The girls’ épée team claimed victories over Fitch, Morgan, and Waterford on its way to winning its tournament. Guilford’s unit featured seniors Julia Gangemi, Grace Banning, Valerie Qiang, and junior Nwall Toma.
The saber squad of seniors Shayla Flynn, Anna Angkatavanich, Adella Cho, and junior Camille Gibson also finished in first place. The team had a first-round bye, then notched a victory over Hand in its next matchup. The Indians went on to defeat Greenwich in the final bout to claim first place.
The girls’ foil team of seniors Lindsey Smith and Sydney Provencher, junior Sophia Ruser, and freshman Taylor Smith finished in third place. Guilford started off with a win over Morgan, then took a loss to Norwich Free Academy. The Indians came back to beat Hand to secure their third-place showing and contribute to Guilford’s overall victory.
“The girls came out and did what they’ve been doing for the past six years. We had great performances all around this weekend, and I’m really proud of both the girls and the boys,” Head Coach Kyle Mezzi said. “It was a tremendous effort on all fronts.”
On the boys’ side, the Indians’ saber team turned in the best showing of the day by finishing in second place. The grouping of senior Wilson Guo, junior Scott Calder, and sophomores Owen Angkatavanich and Jerry Li defeated Morgan and North Haven in the first two rounds, then lost to Darien in the championship bout.
The boys’ foil team placed fourth after earning a win over Morgan and then taking losses against Amity and Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe. Senior Carter Leete, juniors Peter Keanna and Zachary LaBelle, and sophomore Ryan Kornitsky competed for the foil squad.
Guilford’s épée team of senior Adin Jennings, junior Jack Greiner, and sophomores Alfred Raucci and Noah Provencher came in seventh place at states. The Indians lost to Fairfield and Hand, then bested Morgan in their final match.
The Guilford boys ultimately finished in second place by one point behind Hand.
“I give a huge credit to Daniel Hand. They didn’t give us any help,” Coach Mezzi said. “It was literally down to the last point in two matches to decide the overall championship. They worked hard all day. The boys’ field this year was exceptionally strong.”
In the end, Coach Mezzi was proud with how each of his teams performed at the state meet.
“All in all, both of the teams did really well,” said Mezzi. “The girls basically proved what we believed all season—that they were the strongest team in the state. A lot of senior leadership on the girls’ side of things helped carry them through. The boys were a bit younger, so that probably hampered them a little bit.”
Coach Mezzi went on to credit both squads for working together and fighting through adversity during the tournament.
“I’m kind of in awe of it. They just always seem to come together and work as a team on the last day,” Mezzi said. “This competition is a difficult one to do that. As the day progresses, once they’re done fencing, they are supporting each other. We go into this with a very clear goal. We are fighting for the overall championship. So, even if you have disappointment in the first round, you have to come back fighting in the next rounds.”
The weekend before the Team State Championships, the Indians fenced at the Individual State Championships at Guilford High School on Feb. 29 and March 1.
Owen Angkatavanich led the Indians in the boys’ saber division by turning in a fifth-place performance. Guo finished 12th and Li was 16th for saber. In the boys’ foil competition, Leete finished in 18th place, Keanna took 26th place, and LaBelle came in 40th place. In the épée division, Jennings finished 14th, Greiner placed 31st, and Raucci finished in 38th.
Gangemi took second place and Banning earned third in the girls’ épée tournament. Toma finished 32nd for the Indians. In the girls’ saber division, Flynn took third place and Anna Angkatavanich finished fourth. Cho came in 11th place. Smith finished in fourth place for the girls’ foil division, while Provencher placed ninth. Ruser finished in 55th place for the Indians.
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