For the first time in five years, the boys’ and girls’ fencing programs will be led by a new head coach, Stephen Olson.
Luckily for Olson, the longtime competitive fencer is inheriting a program that is coming off one of its best seasons in recent memory. At the 2019 Prep Championships, the women's sabre team, which ranked fifth in all of New Jersey, placed first overall, helping the girls’ team claim fourth overall in the championship. The boys’ team also had a strong outing as men's sabre took sixth, men's epee finished seventh, and men’s foil placed eighth.
Even though some talented seniors left last year’s program, Olson is fully expecting the Knights to build on this recent success.
“In our new district, we are one of the smaller teams, so we really hope to surprise everyone with our tactical, technical, and physical abilities,” he said. “I am hopeful that at least two men and two women squads will qualify for states at the district tournament this year. I also hope our women's sabre squad will be able to place top 3 at the prep tournament, and that we can take some dual meet wins, especially against some of the larger schools.”
GSB certainly seems to be lined up to accomplish those goals, as two of the three members of that Prep championship-winning sabre squad, Maggie Kistner ‘20 and Caroline Solondz ’21, will be back in action this winter for the Knights. Also, epee specialists Zoe O’Connor ’21 and Zak Griffin ’21 will be relied on again this season. Other returning fencers that placed at championships last year include Giulia Bailey ’21, Sean Carlucci ’21, Andrew Young ‘21, Caleb Smith ‘21, and Dylan Towle ’21.
The Knights have been hard at work as the competition season quickly approaches, practicing for two hours every day after school, with a strong emphasis on footwork, conditioning, and fencing-specific strength training. Olson hopes that the fencers take a big tactical leap this season, and he aims to build a strong sense of team spirit and sportsmanship.
“The women’s sabre squad and the men’s foil and sabre squads have been especially excelling during practices,” said Olson. “I am confident they will be very competitive throughout the season, and I am hoping that all of our fencers can do well against the other teams in our district.”
Gill kicks off the fencing season on Tuesday, December 17, against Lawrenceville School.