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Mt. Lebanon fencing club claims Epee Cup

| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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The Mt. Lebanon High School fencing team won first place on Wednesday, April 24, 2014, at the local high school competition held in Peters Township Middle School. Teammates are Alexander Rangel (from left), Nicole Phillips, Marie Erickson and Paul Emery. Not pictured are Emma Dougherty, Bill Hasely, Malini Nair, Dylan Torek and coach Tim Yultchiev.

In just its third year, the Mt. Lebanon high school fencing club took home the Pittsburgh Epee Cup at the April 24 competition in Peters Township Middle School.

The team of juniors Paul Emery, Alex Rangel, Nicole Phillips and Marie Erickson was one of four Mt. Lebanon teams competing on the day, with another coed team competing in the epee competition, and both a boys and girls team competing in the foil competition.

“This competition, even though this one team won, it still represents all of Mt. Lebanon because all the members were working together every Friday,” coach Tim Yultchiev said. “They work together real hard to get one strong team to win.”

Nine different area schools were represented at the competition, and Mt. Lebanon edged perennial contenders Peters Township and Fox Chapel to take home the Epee Cup.

“It feels awesome to beat these highly ranked teams from Fox Chapel and Peters who had always beat us in the past,” junior Alex Rangel said. “It's a thrill even to watch our teammates when they win. It was a pretty great milestone for the Mt. Lebanon fencing club.”

Although Mt. Lebanon's fencing club was originally started in 2001, it stopped meeting from 2007-2011. The club was then re-launched when a few students who knew Yultchiev from his Tiger Fencing Club approached him about running the high school club program.

“This has been a big progress, because most of the kids who start fencing in our program have never fenced before,” Yultchiev said. “That's why the first two years we prepared real hard to get first place in epee.”

Club programs like fencing can be in constant flux year to year. Parents and faculty sponsors are relied upon to help keep things running smoothly from a financial and logistical standpoint. Luckily, the club got a boost from the school when it started back up.

“We looked in the closet at our school and there was all this fencing equipment still there,” Rangel said. “It's never really been the same people, but every year we add on more and more.”

Rangel and the rest of his Epee Cup winning team were freshmen when Yultchiev came to Mt. Lebanon and have seen the club grow into what it is now. As interest has grown, the club practices have been opened up to the middle school students, although only high school students are allowed to participate in competitions.

“We finally have a large enough team that we can have a boys team and a girls team to compete together,” Rangel said. “It's actually been amazing to get this team together and practice all the time. Hopefully, when I leave it will still be there. I never knew how many people were interested in fencing at Mt. Lebanon.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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