By Ashley Mott
The clang of two weapons against each other is not a sound normally associated with athletics. However, it is music to the ears of the Cleveland State University fencing team.
According to assistant coach Jonathan King, the team has been in the middle of a rebuilding season due to some injuries that have occurred. Even while facing adversity, the team never let it slow them down.
Cleveland State has three skilled members of their team preparing to face off against their opponents during regionals. Sarah Mok, Declan Forth and Emma Hartlaub are all fencing for the Vikings on March 10, at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
For Mok, this will be some of her last match ups of the year as she is crossing the graduation stage in May. Mok, a foil expert and team captain, will be returning to the team next year as an assistant coach.
According to Mok, the team has faced highly skilled opponents all year. While she is sad about leaving the team that she has grown to cherish, Mok is ready for the changing of the guard.
She is content in knowing that freshman newcomer, Declan Forth, will continue as a great team captain. Mok is confident that he will lead the team with the amount of energy he has possessed since day one.
Fencing at Cleveland State University has a rich and long history.
Fenn College brought fencing to the school in 1931, making fencing the first sport offered at the college. Since then, it has had enormous amounts of success, producing the only National Champion in school history. Carlos Songini, who was a fencing epee in the 1979 National Championship, holds this title.
In addition, the Cleveland State fencing team has made it to the national championship over 20 times since 1977.
This year, the men’s and women’s teams were invited for the first time to the Ohio State Elite Invitational. In Columbus, they fenced teams that are part of the top 10 in the nation.
Head coach Andy Tulleners has expressed confidence in next year’s team.
“This next year has the potential to be the strongest squad we’ve had in probably 20 years,” Tulleners said.
Forth brings with him 10 years of fencing experience as well as a summer of experience training with the Vietnamese Olympic fencing team. The Australian native hopes to study abroad next year and train with the Olympic team again before returning for his junior year in hopes of making it to nationals.
Comprised of fencers using saber, foil and epee, the team is stacked with the many talents of fast and aggressive fencers, quiet planners and tacticians. They are all prepared to play a game of what many call ‘physical chess.’
These Vikings can’t wait to come back for next season as Cleveland State has the honor of hosting the 2019 National Championship next spring.