Fencing wins provincial title

Men's team beats Toronto in tiebreaker at the ARC

Gaels foil fencer Matt Kaiser (right) goes against the Royal Military College in the bout for men's team foil bronze at the OUA championships this weekend held at the ARC.
Gaels foil fencer Matt Kaiser (right) goes against the Royal Military College in the bout for men's team foil bronze at the OUA championships this weekend held at the ARC.
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The men's fencing team's sabre captain poses with the OUA team trophy after Sunday's tournament.
The men's fencing team's sabre captain poses with the OUA team trophy after Sunday's tournament.
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The men’s fencing team won a dramatic second straight OUA title on Sunday, defeating the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in an improvised sudden-death tiebreaker at the ARC.

After the individual championships on Saturday, the Gaels and the Varsity Blues finished Sunday’s team competition tied for first place — but since there’s no official tiebreaking rule in the OUA, team coaches and league representatives retired to the judges’ room to figure out a plan, leaving players and spectators in suspense for over 30 minutes.

The final decision was to have an individual fence-off in each fencing category — foil, sabre and épée. Gaels épée team captain Karl Gardner said his team was surprised by the verdict.

“It was a little bit of a surprise that we did the fence-off, it wasn’t in the rules,” he said. “It was just kind of ad hoc.”

The foil is the lightest fencing weapon, with players recording points if they hit their opponent’s chest and back. The sabre is heavier with points recorded when players hit the opponents entire upper body, excluding the hands. The épée is the heaviest weapon and hits count if a player connects with any part of his opponent’s body.

Gaels foil captain Dean Loubert lost his tiebreaker bout 5-0 before Gardner won the épée bout 5-4, — the teams were still tied heading into the sabre round.

In the last bout, Gaels sabre captain François Beaucage-Gauvreau beat Varsity Blues fencer Gordon Geringas 5-3 to secure the OUA banner and set off a roar from the 100-strong crowd in the ARC upper gym. Gaels head coach Hugh Munby threw his hat on the floor and jumped up and down.

Although the Gaels also won the OUA title last season, Gardner said the late drama made this weekend’s win much sweeter.

“This one means a bit more because it was so close,” he said. “Last year everybody on the team did well and we kind of ran away with it … but this one was kind of tooth and nail.”

The deciding fence-off between Beaucage-Gauvreau and Toronto’s Geringas was a rematch of Saturday’s sabre gold medal game in the individual sabre category.

Beaucage-Gauvreau said he was confident going into the final tie breaking after having already defeated his opponent 24 hours earlier.

“They only gave us 15 minutes to get ready, so I went and sat inthe corner and decided the touches I would go for,” he said. “I based my decisions on [Saturday’s match] and I knew he would do the same things.”

Beaucage-Gauvreau also won the George Tully trophy for skill, style and sportsmanship for the second consecutive year.

“The coaches are the ones that vote for that award,” he said. “It’s nice to know that you’re appreciated in the fencing community at the OUAs.”

Nine schools came to Kingston for this weekend’s competition. The Gaels won two individual medals on Saturday, with Beaucage-Gauvreau earning the sabre competition gold and Gardner picking up a silver medal in the épée category after falling to the Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Marc-André Leblanc in the final.

On Sunday, the Gaels finished second in the team épée, third in the team foil and fourth in the team sabre competition.

Munby has been the fencing coach at Queen’s since 1985. He said the best part of his job is making the sport accessible to his athletes.

“When we go to Brock [for the women’s OUA tournament this weekend], the women’s team is 12 [athletes],” he said, “but I’m taking a bus of 26 because [other fencers] want to go and support them too.”

— With files from Gilbert Coyle

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