Fencers duel it out

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By Jordan Hay

Kerr Hall gym was filled with the clangs of foils, epees and cries of “En garde!” as Ryerson hosted the annual Ryerson Open fencing tournament last Saturday.

The Open was the first event of the season for the fencers. It featured entrants not only from Ryerson’s varsity team and fencing club, but also from clubs across Ontario including McMaster University, Trent University and the University of Toronto.

“I think this Open competition for Ryerson is very important at the beginning of the season,” said varsity fencing head coach Ioseph Mirkin.

Mirkin added that even his more experienced players will also benefit from facing a talented field.

“It’s very important for the fencers, you need lots of practice before you go to the OUA finals,” said Liang Liao.

Liao is a second-year fencer and one of five Ryerson bronze medallists at last season’s OUA championships.

“Right now we only have three (tournaments) a year.”

The tournament hosted two forms of fencing, the foil and epee events. In both, fencers are first divided into poules (groups) where the fencers compete against each other in a race to five points.

After the fencers establish a rank in the poule portion of the competition, they advance into an elimination round. The fencers then face off againt each other in matches that go up to 15 points until one fencer remains in the end.

In the foil competition, fencers use the modern version of the classic practice dueling sword, striking an opponent’s torso to score points.

“Foil will be interesting,” said varsity fencer Brendan Coles. “We have some really good fencers and we have some who have been fencing for less than eight months.”

Coles competed in the epee half of the tournament. In this version of fencing, competitors target their opponents’ entire body using the modern dueling sword as opposed to the practice model found in the foil competition.

This season coach Mirkin’s emphasis is on the need for rebuilding the team after losing four skilled fencers to graduation.

While he believes his new members lack the talent to immediately succeed, he is optimistic about the training they will receive this year.

“I hope next season we’ll be ready,” he said.

Liao agrees and feels the team situation, though not as good as last year’s, will improve.

“We lost some experienced fencers and it’s going to be a hard year.”

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