Fencing

Academy's Kaye again foils competition at state

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Columbus Academy senior Abigail Kaye reached the pinnacle of her sport at the state level for the second consecutive season.

On March 29 at Royal Arts Fencing Academy in Columbus, the Gahanna resident defended her titles in both the junior women's epee and foil competitions.

The performance helped Kaye earn Ohio's high school Fencer of the Year honor.

"I'm really excited because it was a really good accomplishment," Kaye said. "With foil being my main weapon, I showed my true ability. With epee, I was just doing that weapon for fun, because I thought it would be a good idea to do. I'm proud that I was able to accomplish it."

Also winning titles were Westerville Central freshman Kelli Wozniak (women's saber) and Bexley sophomores Benjamin Kanas (men's foil) and Frank Ditullio (men's saber).

Schools with at least three fencers of the same gender competed as teams.

In the five-team boys competition, Shaker Heights was first, followed by Dublin Jerome, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Rocky River and Dublin Coffman. The only girls teams were champion Rocky River and Shaker Heights.

Kaye was the top seed for the direct elimination round in foil and beat Kristen Ruscitelli of the American Fencing Academy of Dayton 15-7 for the title.

In the direct elimination round in epee, Kaye was seeded eighth but beat top-seeded Meghan O'Reilly, who competes for Hooked on Fencing, 15-4. Kaye then defeated Ruscitelli 15-10 in a semifinal and Carla Erb from the Ligonier Fencing Club 15-11 for the title.

As a freshman in 2011, Kaye lost the championship in foil to Columbus School for Girls' Taylor McIntyre, who won the title in the event from 2009-12.

Kaye is planning to compete next year for Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., whose coach, Linda Vollkommer-Lynch, helped found the program in 1972 and has been its only head coach.

"I was probably the favorite going into (the foil tournament)," Kaye said. "In my freshman and sophomore years, Taylor (won), but I guess these two were my years."

Ditullio was the top seed for the men's saber direct elimination round and beat Elliott Xander Chapman-Layland of Fencing Alliance of Ohio 15-13 for the championship. Jerome's Noah Meyers tied for third.

"It's an honor to just be able to compete and do well," said Ditullio, who was runner-up in the event a year ago. "It was a lot of fun. Last year I lost to a kid who I'd beaten several times before (2013 Jerome graduate Kirklen Shedlock), so I wanted to come back and win this year.

"I also competed in epee and foil, but I'm a saber fencer. I see it as one of the more athletic weapons because it's so fast and a lot of fun."

Kanas was the top seed for the direct elimination foil round and beat Jerome's Michael Zeng 15-10 for the championship. Jerome's Matvey Yang placed third.

The other competitor for Bexley was Leah Stevenson, whose best finish was sixth in women's epee.

"I had a great time," Kanas said. "It was the culmination of years of hard work that all came together. ... It was really great along with Frank Ditullio and Leah Stevenson to represent our school."

Wozniak, who also won the women's saber competition as an eighth-grader, entered the direct elimination round as the second seed and beat Dublin Scioto's Maya Szonn-Lillard 15-14 for the championship.

Because the event is open to competitors ages 13 to 19, Wozniak was able to participate last year despite not being in high school.

Alyson Gruber, who attends Hilliard Memorial Middle School, took fourth.

"Saber is the only event I do, so winning this is something I really wanted to do," Wozniak said. "Saber's a more aggressive competition while (foil and epee) are more precise and I'm just better suited for saber. It's about being aggressive, attacking and knowing when to hit the blade and when to hit your opponent."

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