Feb 9-10, 2019
By Charlie O’Connor-Clarke
The Western men’s fencing team put themselves to the test on February 9 and 10, 2019, as they competed at the University of Toronto at the OUA men’s championships. The highlight of the weekend for the Mustangs was certainly épéeist Rick Wu’s spectacular silver medal performance in the individual tournament, going undefeated throughout poule rounds and having little trouble with DE bouts as he marched all the way to the gold medal match — in which he lost a hard-fought contest to Toronto’s Colin Dale.
Wu’s fellow épéeist Mustangs — Turner Tobin, Justin Alexander, and Bowen Zhang — finished 20th, 23rd, and 30th, with both Tobin and Alexander missing the tableau of 16 by very close margins in their knockout bouts.
Western’s épée team was also their top finishers in the team event; with some of the top fencers in the tournament on their side, the Mustangs placed fifth, losing their quarter-final bout by an achingly close two-point margin to Carleton. They kept fighting despite the defeat, though, and knocked off McMaster and Brock en route to winning the fifth-place consolation bracket.
The foil competition was a major developmental experience for the Mustangs, with several rookies competing in their first OUA championship. They were led by veteran Oscar Qi, who finished 27th — missing the cut after the second round of poules by a very close indicator difference. Jude Reslan and Brady Park both managed to advance from the first poule round, and ultimately finished 31st and 33rd, respectively. Teammate Alec Brandwood barely missed the cut out of the first round.
In the foil team event, Qi and Park were joined by Athan Guo and Tony Wang. They defeated Guelph in poules, and lost to Ryerson by just two points. They ended up finishing sixth in the overall bracket, which is five spots higher than their preliminary ranking. The Mustangs fell to the University of Ottawa in the fifth-place round 45-44 as individual gold medallist Patrick Fournier made a 13-point run in the final bout of the matchup.
Sabre was a bit of an uphill battle for Western, with several fencers fighting injuries during the competition. Captain Elliott Stiles just made the cut out of the first round of poules after struggling in several poule bouts, but he picked it up immensely in the second round, coming third in the poule and beating some very good opponents in the process. Unfortunately, he lost a very close DE bout by a score of 15-12.
His sabre teammates had successes of their own on the day; Charlie O’Connor-Clarke was ranked eighth out of the first round of poules, but came out on the wrong side of four 5-4 bouts in the second round which caused him to barely miss the cut. The other two Western sabreists, Foster Giggie and Nathan Roberts, tied for 35th in the first round of poules, and were called to fence a single-elimination barrage bout against each other, which Giggie won by a score of 5-3.
The sabre team competition was a tough one, with Western drawn into the only three-team poule with Brock and Queen’s. Although they came close to beating the latter, the Mustangs were unable to advance from poules, and thus finished ninth — missing the knockout round by just one place.
Ultimately, Western’s men’s team placed eighth overall on the weekend with 82 points. More important than their final standing, however, was the experience gained by the Mustangs’ newer fencers at their first OUA tournament. This year’s competition will surely be a valuable developmental moment for the team, who will hope to improve on this result at next year’s championship.