BY Josef Samilenko
The 2018–19 Sacred Heart University fencing season began on Oct. 28, at the Big One Invitational hosted by Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Sacred Heart competed against other northeast schools at the event such as Boston College (BC), Boston University, Vassar College and Brandeis University.
The men’s and women’s teams combined for four medals, including one first place finish. Three of the team’s medals came from the epee competitions. The other medal was earned in the saber competitions. The competitions differ in the type of sword the fencers use. The swords are the foil, the epee and saber.
Senior captain Dante Centeno took home gold for Sacred Heart in the epee. It was his second year in a row placing first at the event. He is the first Sacred Heart fencer to achieve this feat.
“Winning the epee for the second year in a row was a huge success for me and it motivates me,” said Centeno.
Freshman Bennett Cohen tied for third place at the event. Bennett is from the New York City Fencers Club, which is where the U.S. Olympic fencing teams train.
“We knew he [Cohen] was good coming into the season, but that medal solidified that in my eyes,” said sophomore Erik Galuska.
Additionally, sophomores Nicolo Cerminara and Troy Kaptizke placed seventh and eighth respectively in the epee event.
Cerminara is one of three international fencers for Sacred Heart and the lone international fencer on the men’s team. He is from Milan, Italy, and competed for the Italian National fencing team. He also had a sponsorship from an Italian fencing company.
In the men’s foil, Sacred Heart saw three individuals place in the Top 15. Sophomore Lucas Wetmore, junior Julien Mallet, and freshman Frank Riccio placed 12th, 14th, and 15th respectively.
“Racking in all these medals was a big deal to show us where we stand prior to conference meets,” said Centeno.
The women’s team had two individual Top 5 placements in the saber. Sophomore Amanda Fischer led the team, placing second. Senior Remi O’Shaughnessy placed fifth.
Fischer is another international fencer and one of two on the women’s team. She is from Porto Algre, Brazil, and competed on Brazil’s National fencing team.
Fischer went 6-0 in pool play. She then bested her next three challengers with scores of 15-4, 15-4 and 15-10. In the semifinals, she earned a win with a score of 15-6. Her run came to an end in the finals, losing 15-14 to a member of the Boston College team.
O’Shaughnessy advanced to the Table of 8 before falling to semifinalist Gillian Lawlor, a sophomore from BC.
Sophomore Daria Rudakova was the other women’s team member to medal for Sacred Heart. She finished tied for third.
Rudakova is the other international fencer on the women’s team, hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia.
Sophomore Ashley Cherry and senior Samantha Abbott placed fifth and sixth respectively. They were both knocked out in the quarterfinals by the eventual finalists. Sophomore Caroline Fischer took 21st place.
“I learned at our first event that I do have the potential to do well,” said C. Fischer. “I need to practice harder and hopefully I can become a better fencer.”
Both team’s next match takes place on Nov. 11, against Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.