By: Kevin Hayes –
Fencing. It’s one of the oldest sports in history, and yet most people only catch glimpses of it every four years during the Olympic Games. The fast-paced sport may look easy at first glance, but it requires a skillful combination of speed, bladework, and mental strategy.
Fencing is split into three different categories, each with a different set of rules and are named after the weapon used in each – foil, sabre, and épée. The league that Seton competes in, which is made up of about eight area high schools, only fences foil.
In foil, the objective is to stab the opponent with the tip of the blade (or the tip of the foil) within the target area. Target area in foil consists of the chest/torso down to the waist, the shoulders, the back, and the neck. In order to score a point, one must hit their opponent within the valid target area while having priority (or right of way). Points are not automatically awarded to the first fencer to hit, rather, points are awarded to the first fencer to produce a correctly executed attack (or an attack while having priority). If one fencer is moving forward, then lunges at their opponent and their opponent lunges at them, the fencer moving forward receives the point. If the opposing fencer parries the attack, they then have priority. If they hit immediately after their parry, they then gain the point, even if the other fencer strikes them as well. If they miss, however, the other fencer has the ability to initiate another attack. The rules of priority are not used, though, if only one person manages to hit their opponent (also known as one light turning on).
Seton’s fencing team has been around for over ten years, and has been coached by current head coach Sabrina Murphy since its inception. Sabrina, who attended Oakland Catholic high school, was once ranked as one of the top 25 fencers in the country when she competed.
This year, the boys and girls teams have both had successful seasons. The boys team, captained by Nikoli Heiser, finished their season last week with a win against Bethel Park, and the girls, captained by Liz Wildenhain, finished their regular season with two wins to qualify for the league playoffs at the end of February.