Pine-Richland fencers remain confident after bronze medal finish last season

Saturday, December 29, 2018 | 9:18 AM

Practice and preparation for the upcoming PIFA season is ramping up for the Pine-Richland fencing team, and while the boys and girls teams may be coming along at slightly different speeds, the Rams’ expectations for success are high.

The outlook for the girls is particularly positive after the team earned itself a bronze-medal finish at last season’s PIFA championships. Despite graduating a handful of fencers from last year’s unit, coach Brad Cellier is confident the girls returning to the lineup will provide enough depth and talent to allow the team to compete at a high level.

“I think my girls team will be very good, and we’ll be competing for a medal. We won the bronze medal last year and I think we’ll be in contention for that type of finish, or better, this year,” Cellier said.

“I’m bringing back two starters and my third girl has a couple of years of experience under her belt now, and I think she’s ready to contribute to the team effort. I’m really excited about this group this year.”

Among the returners, Mia Baker and Martha Lacek have the most experience. Cellier said he expects strong showings out of Baker and Lacek, in addition to Natalie Loftus and Mikayla Melby, both of whom also have fencing experience.

Newcomers Regina Sanchez and Laura Krill also hope to make an impact.

Ivan Werne returns to the boys team. The other starter will be William Koebnick. After that, the cupboard appears to be bare as Cellier said he is continuing to recruit and search for prospective athletes to join the team, encouraging interested parties to reach him via email at [email protected]

With a team of athletes who possess varying degrees of experience and ability, Cellier is spending the Rams’ final preseason practices by splitting sessions and focusing on progressing each of his fencers from their current stages of development.

“I kind of break up practices into two parts. We’re always doing warm-ups, conditioning, stretching and footwork drills together. Then, my more experienced fencers, I release them to compete against each other,” Cellier said

“My newer fencers, I break them apart separately and we work through more blade-work drills to teach them the actions they need to know to be able to compete against more experienced fencers. Some athletes need the time to compete in practice while others need more of the hands-on instruction.”

Pine-Richland is scheduled to take part in its first competition Jan. 25 at Fox Chapel against the Foxes and Peters Township.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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