Dueling with Success
October 18th, 2006
“Where are my strippers?” yelled Coach Joel Winston from the sidelines. “Right here, sir,” responded freshman Justin Kosek, as he ran out to remove the cord connecting the fencers’ foil to the score keeping device, which lights up to display a touch. Amidst all this stripper action, junior Angus Armstrong—who, along with his brother, freshman Ian, is one of two Armstrongs on the Stuyvesant boys’ fencing team, the Untouchables—has just won his bout by a score of 5-1.
This is how most of the events of the evening of Thursday, October 5 unfolded. The most number of points given up by the Untouchables to their opponent, Long Island City High School, in a bout was two, occurring only twice in this thirteen-bout match.
The mood in the cramped sixth floor dance gym was jovial. Members of this relatively large team sat casually on a rolled up gym mat, cheering on their team and, even a few members of the girls fencing team, who begin their season this spring, were there.
This dominating victory was a clear sign that the Untouchables haven’t been touched yet this season. “Everyone on this team is confident and headed [in] a good direction, the winning direction,” said Angus Armstrong. Ian Armstrong said, “We have a good chance of maturing as a team.”
As they develop, the Untouchables will face fierce competition from Hunter College High School. There was a virtually unanimous sentiment that Hunter would be the greatest hurdle in path to the championships for the Untouchables.
However, Winston, as well as many of the players, expressed a strong belief that the team would be able to meet that challenge this year.
Junior and co-captain Jonathan Tang assured that the team would pull through. “We have a very good chance of winning the championships,” he said.
Winston agreed, though he also acknowledged the Hunter team as “a good team, possibly better than ours,” adding that, “If we are able to beat Hunter, we have a very good chance of winning the Championships.”
The team, as a whole, seems to be doing well, especially compared to last year. After four matches, the team currently stands at 4-0. At this point last year, the co-ed team was 3-1, the loss coming against Hunter. Winston said, “We haven’t experienced that much trouble against our other competitors. I think that we’ve been working hard. I like this year’s team [and] it looks like it has improved since last year. We are still in a rebuilding mode. Each year, we’ll just get better and better.”
Even without the girls from last year’s co-ed team, the Untouchables are performing at a very high level. The girls who were on the co-ed team last year currently comprise the recently formed girls’ fencing team, which was created last spring. However, there seems to be no ill effects of the absence of the girls on the team. “None of the girls were starters last year,” said Angus Armstrong.
Despite their 4-0 record, it is their enthusiasm that puts the Untouchables above the rest. After the match many players were reluctant to remove their fencing gear and continued to fence with each other. The most poignant example of this great spirit was, upon hearing news that the other team may forfeit, many offered to fence in their opponents’ place.
Although the boys’ fencing team is off to a strong start with an undefeated record, things may change when they face their division rival, Hunter, in a pivotal match-up at Hunter College High School on Tuesday, October 17. After that match, both the team and coach will be able to better analyze how the team is performing.
“Since I’ve been coaching here, the only team we’ve ever lost to was Hunter. I will get to see exactly where the strengths and weaknesses lie with Hunter and with us. Hunter is always our nemesis since last year and they have just a very tough team. Personally, I think that them and Stuyvesant are the two best teams in the city right now. Tomorrow, should be an interesting game,” said Winston.
Both Hunter and Stuyvesant are 4-0 coming into Tuesday’s match-up. One of these teams will stay undefeated while the other will deal with their first loss of the season. After Tuesday’s match, the Untouchables will find out if they are still untouchable.