Casting aside all the inconveniences of the COVID-19 pandemic era, the Huntington High School girls’ fencing team managed to put together a very nice winter season, which culminated in county honors for four Blue Devils.
Coached by Michelle O’Brien and Burke Tomaselli, the number of fencers participating this year was curtailed by the ongoing public health crisis, but the athletes that were able to join the team enjoyed a great season. O’Brien was named the Suffolk Women’s Coach of the Year.
The roster included Madelyn Bavaro, Adora Colay, Emely Cruz, Aislyn Franciscovich, Alexandra Kustera, Lilianna LaVertu, Allison Malone, Abigail Simon and Haileigh Smith.
Colay grabbed All-County second team honors while Kustera, Smith and Malone all earned All-County honorable mention recognition. Colay, the only senior on the squad compiled a 14-6 record in sabre. The gifted Kustera battled to a 14-11 mark in sabre. Smith, a talented sophomore went 17-8 in sabre. Malone, another skilled sophomore, was 13-9 in epee.
“This was a tough year for senior athletes and Adora gave it her all,” O’Brien said. “She was a phenomenal team captain and inspiration for everyone in the program, both boys and girls. Had she been able to fence in the final two meets, I am sure her win percentage would have increased. The younger fencers have all spoken of how welcoming she has always been to them.”
Kustera has set the stage for a splendid senior season next winter. “Ally is always a pleasure to work with and a motivating force behind the sabre squad,” O’Brien said. “It is our hope that her enthusiasm to train privately in the off-season is contagious.”
Smith continues to impress everyone. “Haileigh is a three-sport athlete who we are grateful to have on our team,” O’Brien said. “She is a tough competitor.”
Malone also put together a strong sophomore season. “Allie is the second member of the Malone family to take on epee fencing and she is very motivated to learn,” O’Brien said. “She’s looking to take lessons at a club in the off-season.”
Huntington was competitive in most of its matches this winter, despite being somewhat shorthanded.
“These girls never gave up and went to every meet with a smile,” O’Brien said. “Emely brought her brother onto the team. The girls helped each other throughout the season and were sincerely interested in learning the sport. Although we were small in number, we were huge in heart.
The Blue Devils continue to strive to return to the top of Suffolk. “Despite the pandemic, these girls put their heart and soul into this season,” O’Brien said. “Not once did one decide to miss practice. Not once did they give up. The goal was for them to have fun and enjoy the sport that they love and they did. These ladies handled competition like champs and I am hoping they all return next year. Adora will be a hard fencer to replace, but I think the girls will recruit and find someone who can fill her shoes.”
With almost the entire roster eligible to return, Huntington has high hopes for the 2021/22 campaign. The coaches also plan to restart elementary grade level intramurals at some point once the COVID-19 pandemic finally subsides. That will generate more interest and participation in the sport down the road.
“We are only graduating one senior this year,” O’Brien said. “I hope everyone else will return. Since next year’s athletics are truly unknown, we hope to have a full-length season with a normal championship with all teams.”