Fencing starts strong

Gaels win gold and bronze at Queen’s Invitational

Gaels’ fencer Anton Oentoro lunges at an opponent in the Queen’s Invitational Saturday.
Gaels’ fencer Anton Oentoro lunges at an opponent in the Queen’s Invitational Saturday.

The Gaels’ fencing team hosted the Queen’s Invitational last weekend at Duncan McArthur Gym on West Campus and picked up two medals in the process.

Dimitry Balashov won gold in the men’s épée and Christian Petrozza earned a bronze in the men’s foil. The team also gave strong performances on the women’s side, with Joanne Ko placing seventh in foil, Laura Bartha placing seventh in épée and Stacey McDonald finishing 10th in women’s sabre.

Head coach Hugh Munby said he was pleased with the team’s performance, but still saw areas where the team could improve.

“We still have some stuff to learn, things to work on: tactics particularly, and some of the head game needs some work,” he said. Munby said there’s more pressure on the team to perform this year due to the University’s Athletics and Recreation Review, which ranked fencing 23rd out of 34 teams.

Ko, who is nationally ranked in épée, said the tournament was a valuable experience for the team.

“It’s the first tournament of the season, so it’s a good time to see what strengths and weaknesses we have on the team so we know what to work on,” she said.

“Personally, I would like to win the women’s épée gold at the OUAs. I also hope to win the women’s banner this year.”

Petrozza said he did better than he expected.

Petrozza, in his second year at Queen’s, said he only recently returned to fencing after spending his first year at Herstmonceux Castle.

“Training all summer and coming here and getting a result like third place, I was quite happy with it.”

Balashov, a master’s student in his first year at Queen’s, said his prior fencing experience played a large role in his win.

“I’ve fenced for a long time, about seven or eight years, and I started back in the Ukraine, where I was born and raised, but the majority of my fencing I did in Vancouver,” he said.

Balashov said the Gaels’ team-based environment differentiates it from other fencing programs he’s been involved with.

“What I like is that there’s a sort of camaraderie,” he said. “There’s a lot of support going on, everybody helping everybody. ... People here are doing amazing things with the amount of time and the amount of training that they’re exposed to.”

The team’s next tournament will be Nov. 3 and 4 at the Royal Military College.

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