by ANDREW GARDA
The Montclair High School fencing squads had a strong showing both at this year’s NJSIAA Team and Individual state tournaments the past two weekends, with the girl’s Epee team winning its second straight State Championship.
Other notable team performances were the girls Sabre, which placed seventh, and girls foil which placed 19th. Meanwhile, the men’s team fought well, but continued to have some inconsistency in what has been a rebuilding year for them.
Individually, the fencers who were chosen to compete also fared well.
“Rachel [Paroff’s] performance was the best we’ve seen from her individually and Amina [Troupe] was solid,” coach Ed Chang said of the two epee fencers. Paroff finished fourth and Troupe was fifth in individuals.
Prior to both tournaments, the coaches told their fencers to relax. This was the final tournament of the season, and as they were already in the Top 20 in the state, the pressure wasn’t as intense. Qualifying was, Chang said, the payoff for a lot of hard work and practicing.
Chang said he felt like MHS senior Paroff had a super-positive attitude coming into her matches, and it showed. Nobody got as many touches on the eventual first place fencer, LeAnn Choy from Ridge High School, proof of how hard Paroff fought. She constantly adjusted her attacks and strategy each match, constantly looking for an edge.
Both the team championship and her fourth place finish in the Individual tournament were high notes to finish her Mountie career with.
As for Troupe, the staff is excited to see what she can do going forward. This is just the second season she has fenced with the team, and it appears she is just beginning to peak. Chang said her improvement has been phenomenal, with Troupe jumping from an Unrated to a C level ranking in just one season, winning 1st place in the District Tournament, as well as winning a State Championship with the rest of her team.
Chang was impressed Troupe was able to be as consistent as she was over the past two years.
“She didn’t have a ‘sophomore’ slump,” he said of the MHS junior. “There was no dropoff in her second year.”
The Mounties are going to depend on Troupe to be a leader and a solid foundation for the girl’s squad going forward.
Along with Troupe, Grace Van Atta will be a name to remember next season.
The MHS freshman performed well in the girls Saber competition, and Chang said the coaching staff looks forward to seeing a lot more from her in the future. Her ninth-place finish came against older and more experienced fencers, and was an impressive debut.
Another first-timer, junior Ben Sherwin, fought hard in the men’s epee category. This was Sherwin’s first tournament and despite a finish at 19th, he performed well against his more seasoned opponents.
Chang was happy with the overall progress of the squad and felt the fencers learned a lot from their trip to both tournaments.
“It was a learning experience for all and a celebration of their hard work over the season.