Gaels on point at OUAs

Men’s fencing brings home OUA banner at championships

The men’s fencing team was in St. Catharines for the OUA championship . They came in first with 240 points at the Brock-hosted event.
The men’s fencing team was in St. Catharines for the OUA championship . They came in first with 240 points at the Brock-hosted event.

Over the weekend of Feb. 19 and 20, the men’s fencing team competed at the OUA Championships at Brock University and finished with stellar results. Accumulating the most points overall, the men’s team took home the OUA banner for the first time since 2003-04.The men’s team had a dominating win with 240 points ahead of the second-place Carleton Ravens’ 198 point finish.

“The athletes were well-prepared and ready for the competition,” said head coach Hugh Munby. “We took no chances and it paid off.” Francois Beaucage-Gauvreau won the gold medal in the individual sabre and team sabre competitions. He said he owes his success to his training regimen and his capacity for calm and focus during tough matches.

“That’s what I did all weekend,” he said. “Stayed calm, talked to myself … and just stayed smart.”

When Beaucage-Gauvreau made it into the final bout, he benefitted from his strong mental game.

“I was really focused,” he said. “I was prepared mentally and my opponent was less so. I got the first two touches, and he wasn’t really ready.”

I started strong and decided where I would work on the piste … and I analysed his offensive actions were stronger than his defensive. I stayed on the offensive and won that way.”

After being seeded in first place after the pool bouts, Beaucage-Gauvreau was able to compete against less experienced and prepared opponents before facing tougher competition in the final few matches.

“Working hard at the beginning makes a big difference at the end,” he said.

The winner of the individual sabre competition is rewarded the Schwende-Tully trophy. Beaucage-Gauvreau also won the George Tully trophy for skill, style and sportsmanship.

“Fencing is not a classy sport, but you have to be respectful,” he said. “You shake hands after each bout, and you have to not lose your temper. It’s about staying clam”

The gold medal in team sabre was awarded to Beaucage-Gauvreau, Scott Bowman, Jimmy Wintle and Greg Nanato. Starting strong, the team set the tempo for all of their matches and were able to make fast tactical choices, “[Sabre] is making quick decisions while being physical … it’s like playing chess while sprinting,” Beaucage-Gauvreau said.

The men’s epee team also had a successful tournament, with Karl Gardner winning first place in individuals and Mario Gibney placing third. Gardner’s training has been relaxed this year after enduring bronchitis and two separate infections.

“My cardio and physical presence on the piste were diminished,” he said.

But after fencing for 10 years, he said his mental game was unaffected.

“I know exactly what to do,” he said. “But I can’t always physically carry out the techniques as well as I’d like to. I did what worked well. I could play to the strengths I had and [played] a very strategic game, more tactical.” Gardner faced off against fencers from RMC, Western and one of his Queen’s teammates, Mario Gribney before the final bout against Carleton. Gardner lost the first four points to Carleton before rallying to come back. The lead was never clear as both reached nine points without a margin larger than one point between them. Once at 12 points, Gardner scored three quick hits to win the bout and the gold.

“It’s nice to bring some hardware back to Queen’s,” said Gardner who received the Desjarlais trophy for his win.

He said competing away from home is usually more difficult, but the support from team members helped cheer him on. The team of Gardner, Jack Chen, Mario Gibney and Danny Jang were seeded first in pools and didn’t lose a bout all day.

Their biggest challenge came in the gold medal bout against Ryerson.

“We had a reasonable lead in every bout until the final, where we faced a team that was our level if not higher … I attribute the win to my teammates,” Gardner said. “I did my job, but they went above and beyond theirs.” Chen, Gibney and Jang started fencing together at Queen’s in their first year, and were excited to bring home the OUA banner.

“They’re happy they can leave Queen’s as champions,” Gardner said.

In light of their first place win and the end of OUA competition, the athletes will relax a bit this week before training steps up even further afterwards for provincials.

“We’re going to the Brew Pub!,” said Gardner. “We decided that if we won the banner this year [it] would be the High roller special. A bottle of Dom Perignon, and a basket of wings … We all want to get it, so we’re all going get it together.”

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