Fencing wins fourth consecutive overall championship

Cardinal fencing won the Visconti overall performance trophy for the fourth year in a row at All-City Championships on April 13 at The Academy. Senior Ella Houweling won the girls’ championship.

Junior co-captain Esme Cohen, Houweling, junior Jordyn Kosai, sophomore Madeline Yap and sophomore Isabella Su made up the girls team. On the boys side, Lowell had senior co-captain Raymond McMillan, senior Luke O’Grady, junior Jonas Castillo and sophomore Aiden Scribner.

The preliminary seeding opened the championship, where one fencer from each school is put into a random pool, and they fence every fencer in that pool.

Houweling, Kosai and Yap won all of their prelim bouts, and Cohen and Su went 2-3 (their pools had six fencers instead of five). McMillan was the only one who went 5-0, while O’Grady went 3-2, Castillo 1-3 and Scribner went 3-1.

After preliminaries, eliminations began, where the competitors who did best in prelims fence those who did worst, second-best fence second-worst, and so on. Elimination bouts have 15 touches to victory and consist of three 3-minute sets with two 1-minute breaks in between.

Su was eliminated in the 64-fencer pool, going 10-15 against Sanjana Nateson of University. Cohen barely won 15-14 against Maddy Li of Lincoln. Houweling won 15-3 against Vy Le of Wallenberg. Yap and Kosai both won 15-1 against Olivia Chio of Academy and Kyra Nagle of Urban, respectively.

The boys began in the 32-fencer pool, because there were fewer boys than girls. Each one made it through to the next round, with McMillan going 15-3 against Christopher Lo of Galileo, O’Grady going 15-4 against James Applegate of Academy, Castillo going 15-5 against Zed Millett of Urban and Scribner making a less-than smooth 15-9 win over Jiaming Feng of Lincoln.

Christina Johnson
Cardinal fencers at a home meet earlier in the season on Mar. 5.

In the girls’ 32-table, after a number of both despairing and triumphant screams from both sides’ peanut galleries, Cohen was eliminated in another very close 14-15 bout against Joley Costa of University. The other girls fared far better: Houweling won 15-3 against Cheyenne Yu of Academy, Yap won 15-2 against Ria Dhillon of University, and Kosai also won 15-3 against Amy Li of Academy.

In the boys’ 16-table, Lowell had to fence against their own to progress, since none of the boys had been eliminated. Scribner beat Castillo 15-6, and McMillan beat O’grady 15-4.

Because only three girls made it into the 16-table, Kosai had to fence Maeta Phoupraseut of Washington, losing 11-15. Houweling beat Yap 15-13 to advance.

In the boys’ quarter-finals, Scribner beat McMillan 15-13 to move on. In the girls’, Houweling beat Amanda Altobano of Galileo 14-7 by the clock.

Scribner lost both his semi-finals and loser’s finals matches, scoring 11-15 against University in both bouts, which were mildly controversial. In the semis, Scribner fenced Nathan Evans, who repeatedly fell backwards when Scribner neared. Hand judges were also involved as both fencers were repeatedly accused of covering target. Against Reed Schwartz in the losers’ round, both fencers also got hand judges for covering target, and this time both fencers even got red cards for it.

Houweling won the girls’ championship 7-4 against Brianne Yu of Galileo. Another odd bout, both fencers managed to get yellow cards for passivity (not making any touches, on or off-target). It was the first time anyone from Lowell had been carded for passivity in a long time, and also the only time both fencers were carded for it.

Houweling was completely surprised by her own success, as she was originally ranked eighth in her preliminary seedings. “I honestly don’t think it could have happened,” she said. She was only aiming to get to the 8-table pool, the furthest she had gotten since sophomore year.

For Lowell head coach Scott Cunningham, this outcome was only half-expected. “That was a surprise; I thought [McMillan] was gonna win for the boys and I thought Kosai was gonna win for the girls. So [Houweling] winning it was really fantastic and I’m really happy for her,” he said.

I honestly don’t think it could have happened.

— Ella Houweling - SF All-City Champion

Overall, however, Cunningham saw the Visconti award coming, even in the face of University’s well-trained team. This was the fourth year in a row that Lowell won overall. He was nerve-wracked by some of his fencers being eliminated earlier than expected by University, especially considering the Red Devils were the only ones to go undefeated during the season, but was also optimistic that Lowell would eke past them, which they did.

Three fencers–Kosai, McMillan and Scribner–went on to fence at All-State championships, also at Academy, on April 27, where Kosai made it to 3rd place.