Ike Fencers Take a Stab at Excellence

Johnny+Thompkins%2C+left%2C+and+Camron+Douglas+face+each+other+during+the+Eisenhower+High+School+Fencing+Clubs+in-house+tournament%2C+held+Feb.+10+and+17.+The+tournament+helped+prepare+club+members+for+competition+in+official+tournaments%2C+usually+held+in+the+Oklahoma+City+area.

Skylar Edwards

Johnny Thompkins, left, and Camron Douglas face each other during the Eisenhower High School Fencing Club’s in-house tournament, held Feb. 10 and 17. The tournament helped prepare club members for competition in official tournaments, usually held in the Oklahoma City area.

Staff

Ethan Lynch, left, and Shawn Williams fence, while Kynlee Davis observes in the background. The Eisenhower Fencing Club held an in-house tournament Feb. 10 and 17 to determine club rankings. (Skylar Edwards)

     In case you have ever wondered which Eisenhower High School students are the best with a sword, we now have an answer. 

     The EHS Fencing Club held an in-house tournament Feb. 10 and 17, during its normal after-school meeting time. The purpose of the two-day tournament was to establish rankings for the club members. 

     EHS teacher Lu Hale, sponsor and coach of the Fencing Club, said that 19 club members participated in the tournament. Shawn Williams took first place. Gabriel Riegle placed second. Armando King took third place and an honorable mention goes to Ethan Lynch, who came close to entering the top three, Hale said.

     “Many fencers who were expected to fare better in the rankings fell because of the natural uncertainty that becomes evident when their style is in fluctuation,” said Hale. “This frequently happens as they adjust their styles and are growing into that type of athletic mindset.”

     Hale said a primary reason to hold an in-house tournament is to help the students learn the model for how a standard fencing tournament operates. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the official tournaments the club usually attends at the salle (the proper name for a fencing school or gym) in Oklahoma City have been canceled. 

     “The students need a model of a standard tournament before we start moving toward regular competition next year with the salle in Oklahoma City,” he said. “We need more of our officers to see a tournament and learn how to adjudicate bouts and keep the flow of a large tournament flexible, but timely. We have been less stringent with equipment and rules enforcement versus official tournaments to remove barriers to participation while maintaining those rules that protect the fencers.”

Ethan Lynch, left, and Robert Lewis face off during the Eisenhower Fencing Club’s in-house tournament, Feb. 10. The club meets immediately after 9th period most Mondays and Wednesdays in the Social Studies wing, upstairs at EHS. For more information, contact Eisenhower teacher Lu Hale. (Skylar Edwards)

     According to Hale, EHS has had a Fencing Club since at least 2006, though he believes it began in the late 1990s. Fencing might not be as popular as most team sports, but it has a lot of benefits for the students who take part.

     “Students pick up a myriad of physical skills, including dexterity, agility, muscle development, overall health, and proprioception (awareness of body position and movement),” Hale said. “Mental skills that relate to analysis of tactics, predicting intent from outward cues, sportsmanship, teamwork, mental preparation for stressful situations, anger management, and altruism.”

Eisenhower High School Fencing Club Captain Zion Greer adjudicates a fencing bout between Johnny Thompkins, left, and Gabriel Riegle on Feb. 10 during an in-house tournament to determine club rankings. (Skylar Edwards)

     There are three different types of sword used in the sport of fencing: foil, saber and epee. The EHS Fencing Club focuses primarily on training and competing with the epee. Hale said that epee is the easiest of the three swords to grasp from a rules perspective and offers an excellent balance of defense and offense. While all fencing is as safe as any other sport played in a high school environment, the nature of epee competition makes it slightly safer for novice fencers than foil or saber.

     Also, City of Thunder Fencing, a salle in Edmond, is primarily focused on epee training, which has been a valuable resource for the EHS Fencing Club, allowing the student fencers an opportunity to learn from adult fencers who have competed in the Olympics. 

     “They have coaches and advisers that are Olympians in the sport,” said Hale. “Some of our students have even had the opportunity to fence against Olympians. While many sports can boast trainers at the collegiate and in some cases national level, there is only one that can boast international coaches, let alone Olympians in our proverbial backyard. In short, our setup for epee is too good to pass up!”

     Hale said that there are plans to expand the club’s activities next school year, possibly even as a sanctioned competitive sport. EHS students who are interested in checking out the Fencing Club, and possibly joining, can stop by the meetings, held from 3-5 p.m. most Mondays and Wednesdays in the Social Studies wing upstairs at Ike.

Zoe Hale, left, fences Armando King during an in-house tournament held by the Eisenhower High School Fencing Club, Feb. 10 and 17. Top fencers for the tournament were: Shawn Williams, first place; Gabriele Riegle, second place; and Armando King, third place. (Skylar Edwards)