Pine-Richland fencing team begins rebuilding process

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Friday, December 20, 2019 | 6:56 PM


The 2019-20 school year marks the beginning of a new era for the Pine-Richland fencing program, as coach Brad Cellier is leading the boys and the girls teams through a rebuilding process.

The Rams fencing teams have certainly had success in the past, as the girls are the two-time defending bronze medalists in the Pittsburgh Interscholastic Fencing Association.

This year, however, the roster numbers are smaller than they have been in the past, causing Cellier to re-think his approach and commit to building toward a promising future.

“We have a handful of boys on the team and a couple of brand-new girls, and they all look promising, but we’ll be taking a different approach this year,” Cellier said. “Instead of competing in the high school league, we’ll look to practice and build up our skills before hopefully entering into some USA Fencing competitions in the coming months.

“We are in a complete rebuilding process, but the good news is that we should be able to field some very competitive teams in the next year or two. We’re rebuilding and the point is to have us prepared to perform well in the future.”

As of now, junior Clare Gibron and freshman Madison Weakland comprise the girls fencing team roster. Both are newcomers to the sport.

Meanwhile, the boys team is filled out by Ryan Daniels, Zachary Lee and Vytas Ivaska. Cellier says he’s pleased with the progress he’s seen from all of his high school fencers.

Another important component of the rebuilding process is the program’s incorporation of middle school fencers at practice. With an eye on improving the team long-term, Cellier has opened his team’s practices to younger fencers in order to encourage a quicker learning curve with the sport and additional participation.

“We’re actually training the next generation of high school fencers concurrently,” Cellier said. “They can’t compete in high school competition yet, but I opened it up because fencing is such a skills-based sport. Not to belittle the skills requirements in other sports, but fencing takes a long time to master.

“Getting these kids into it at an earlier stage will put them in a better position when they hit high school age. It’s a great environment for them and I’m excited about that.”

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