BURLINGTON, Ont. – It has been a successful streak for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s fencing team and they will look to continue that championship-calibre streak this weekend (February 3-4) at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) for the 2018 Men’s Fencing Championship.
Details surrounding the upcoming championship, which also represents the Paladins Bell Let’s Talk event to join the conversation and end the stigma surrounding mental health, can be found in the 2018 Men’s Fencing Fan Guide.
After successfully securing their 32nd men’s fencing banner in school history, the Varsity Blues will be back for the three-peat, but will need to retain their title against 12 other schools vying for the top spot.
Helping Toronto in their quest for a third straight banner will be 2016-17 George Tully Trophy winner and men’s epee champion, Colin Dale. Joining Dale will be William Kinney (1st in men’s Sabre at Brock Open), who returns for his fourth season with the blue and white – a career that includes the 2014-15 George Tully Trophy and back-to-back podium finishes in the men’s sabre event.
In foil action, rookie David Chen-Li earned the silver medal at the Canada Cup East competition in November, while third-year Varsity Blue James Hotti picked up the bronze, and both individuals will look to repeat their medal-winning efforts on the championship stage.
Among those schools looking to upend Toronto’s championship aspirations is last year’s overall silver medalists, Carleton. The Ravens will once again be looking for revenge as for the second consecutive year, it was the Toronto team that denied the Ottawa-based school of an OUA title.
The Ravens earned success at last year’s championship as a result of their gold medal winning efforts in the men’s foil, but one of their shining moments this season was their sabre team, which placed second at their home event. This quartet of Mohamed Ghazal, Derek Madrid, Matheson Go, and Kusey Gunesli will be looking to help the Ravens go one step further than last year and sit atop the final podium when all is said and done.
A further staple of consistency in OUA fencing, the men’s program at RMC will be searching for their first Charles Walter Trophy since a powerhouse team claimed the title at back-to-back OUA Championships in 2007 and 2008.
The host Paladins – the team that beat out the Ravens’ sabre team at the Carleton Invitational and the reigning OUA overall bronze medalists – has seen success in both sabre and foil action this year. A pair of Paladins earned individual fifth place finishes at the Queen’s Invitational – Hugo Clements (sabre) and Dan Ortega (foil) – but it was OUA All-Star Garrett Whelan’s individual performance in foil that brought him the first place finish at the event. Whelan is looking to build off of this result, along with his additional first place showing at the Western Open, and his international experience earlier in the year at the World Military Championships in Italy to find the podium this weekend.
One other member from the host school to keep an eye on is first year epee specialist, Kyle MacKinnon. MacKinnon is quickly learning what it takes to compete at the next level and has gained valuable experience in high-level tournaments this year, something that he and the rest of the Paladins squad hope will spark a return to their championship triumphs from a decade ago.
For York, a group that just last year won their first team medal in 30 years, the focus will once again be on Adrien Sparling. The 2016-17 OUA All-Star won the Schwende Trophy at last year’s championship as the gold medalist in men’s sabre. He continued his success in sabre action at the Canada Cup East event, where he once again stood tall atop the podium. Sparling will surely be a threat to repeat as champion and will look to spearhead the Lions’ new-found success in the men’s sabre team relay.
A full complement of fencers from Trent will make their way to the championship, including four making their debuts at the season finale. Helping to lead some of these newcomers will be new epee captain, Shantanu Dutt. Dutt has committed fully to training this season and could very well be a dark horse at this year’s event.
The sabre team, meanwhile, will be making their return to championship action, with the hope that they will continue their cohesiveness as a unit. A standout in sabre is veteran Excalibur Mathew Robert-Nunez, whose natural ability and momentum from the Carleton Invitational should serve him well in Kingston.
Joining Trent’s sabre hopes are those of the Marauders, who boast a crew of potential medalists in the event as well. Leading the charge therein for McMaster will be first-year Marauder, Isaac Celis, who made his way to the maroon and white from Calgary and is making his return to fencing as a graduate student completing his Masters in Cultural Studies.
The purple ponies, meanwhile, will gallop into Kingston with a talented crew of their own, with standouts in both epee and foil. In epee action, the Western team earned a second place finish at Carleton, while team member John Huang also tacked on an individual silver medal in epee at the Danosi Open in December. Fellow Mustang Graham Shaw also brought home additional hardware this season at the Danosi Open, but did so in foil with a third place finish. Rounding out the team’s foil success, meanwhile, is a team silver medal at the Carleton Invitational.
The Brock Badgers squad has also earned success across multiple events this season, with their triumphs coming from their own Brock Open, as well as the Canada Cup East. Ones to watch out for at this year’s championship include Malcolm McLeod (1st in men’s foil at Canada Cup East; 3rd in junior men’s foil at Brock Open); Aaron Ohmstead (3rd in men’s sabre at Canada Cup East); and Logan Wilford (1st in men’s U20 epee at Brock Open), who is also coming off 2016-17 OUA All-Star honours.
Making the short trek to RMC to join their fellow OUA combatants will be the Queen’s Gaels, who boast a talented roster of potential medalists of their own. A major part of the men’s team is reigning OUA All-Star, Kenneth West, who is coming off of a third place finish in last year’s sabre championship.
Joining West will be a slew of epee standouts, led by captain Gavin Crowder, who as a team, placed second at the RMC Invitational and fourth at the Carleton Invitational. From an individual standpoint, Crowder placed second at the Queen’s Invitational, while team members Rory McEwen (1st in men’s epee at Queen’s Invitational) and Matthew Litwin (2nd in men’s epee at Brock Open). All in all, the Gaels will be looking to go beyond their individual successes and turn in a medal-winning overall performance.
Coming off a championship outing wherein they just missed out on the podium – falling just one point back of RMC for third overall – Ryerson will also be looking to make the leap this time around. One major difference will be that instead of defending his back-to-back gold medals in the men’s foil event, Rams’ standout and OUA All-Star Samuel Hardwicke is a coach rather than a participant, hoping his guidance, along with the rest of the coaching staff, will still yield medal-worthy results.
Rounding out the competition will be the uOttawa Gee-Gees, Guelph Gryphons, and Waterloo Warriors.
The OUA Men’s Fencing Championship will take place at the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre on Saturday, February 3 to Sunday, February 4. The event will start with individual events (foil, epee, and sabre) on Saturday, and will conclude on Sunday with the team relay competitions.