Montclair High School Foils Competition, Off To A Strong Start

Montclair High School senior Amina Troupe has only been fencing for the past year and a half. In that time she’s helped lead the Mounties epee squad to back-to-back State Championships, earned a United States Fencing Association Ranking, and most recently, has qualified for the Junior Olympics.

“Amina is perhaps the best fencer on the team, she’s just amazing,” said teammate and co-captain of the Mounties fencing squad Ben Sherwin. “She went to Division I this year and beat some of the top 20 fencers in the nation.”

Despite such little experience, Troupe joined the national circuit this year and has had top finishes at national competitions in Portland, OR and Salt Lake City, UT in which she placed 20th out of 90 and 27th out of 163, respectively.

Ben Sherwin (Epee, Senior), Zariah Moon (Foil, Senior), Amina Troupe (Epee, Senior), Lee Meyers (Foil, Junior)

“It’s been really great especially considering that I started this sport really late and a lot of the people I’m going up against have been doing the sport since they were eight years old,” Troupe said. “So I’m really pleased with my progression so far.”

Troupe got her start in martial arts and sparred competitively on a national circuit, however she knew she wanted to be part of a high school sport and thus found her way into fencing.

“I just loved the strategy of it and a lot of what I learned in martial arts I could apply to fencing which definitely helped with my progression, and that’s what’s helped accelerate me so fast in the past year and a half,” she said. “I like athletics, I like to work hard at whatever I do and I like to win. I know the amount of work I need to put into something in order to yield the results that I want to see.”

This season, Troupe is a returning NJSIAA All-State first team and SEC All-Conference first team fencer and has her sights set on leading the Mounties to victory alongside Sherwin and other co-captain Zariah Moon-Torkpo.

A Rebuilding Year
The girls fencing squad has fought its way to a dominant 4-0 start as the boys team is right behind at 3-1 on the season so far.

“We’re doing pretty well this year, it’s a rebuilding year… but we’ve got a bunch of new promising young fencers,” said Sherwin. “I’ve got strong hopes for this year.”

The Montclair fencing program has about 90 student-athletes, making the leadership of the team captains and squad leaders just as important as the roles of the coaches.

“We’re all about character building, especially with the younger ones,” head coach Edward Chang said. “A lot of them don’t know how to fence, a lot of them come to us with little to no experience, so it’s all about character building. We use the older fencers to kind of help organize and instruct the younger fencers.”

The boys fencing team highlights Sherwin, a USFA “B” ranked fencer, as the team’s leader in epee. The team also includes other USFA ranked fencers in juniors Alex Moyse and Brian Roseboro and sophomore Liyan Cheung, according to Sherwin.

In boys sabre, the team will look to the talents of Nathan Weiss, Charles Blim and Michael Vassallo while Lee Meyers, Jacob Appiah and William Polen comprise the foil team.

“This year I’m hoping to train my other varsity members on epee well and to lead us to states,” Sherwin said. “Hopefully we’ll get some more state individuals in and bring the team to a better place than last year.”

On the girls side, Troupe is the only returning epee member from the State Championship teams, but still has high hopes for the squad.

Chang believes that this season the Mounties foil team are true contenders. Led by Moon-Torkpo, the foil squad features an exciting new freshman fencer in Georgia Chen and returning junior Lila Zimbalist.

“We’re really keeping an eye on foil,” Chang said. “They were weaker last year but it seems like they’ve been doing a lot of work in the offseason and are going to come in pretty strong.”

In sabre, Montclair is led by returning sophomore Grace Van Atta who contributed 19 wins in her rookie season and will work alongside sophomore Grace Edgington.

“I’m hoping (our team) can make top eight at least because we always get knocked out in the round of 16’s,” Troupe said. “But hopefully we can mount that hurdle and get into the top eight (this season).”

Photos: Cara Moroze and Monique Balsamo.

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