FENCING: Prior Park enjoy success at County Championships
FENCERS from Prior Park School topped the Wiltshire Fencing Championships medal board with six medals in total.
In the under 10s, Ethan Teale, Oliver Hodgson and Edward Scott-Payne finished first, second and third respectively in their seeding pools, ensuring they all made it through to the elimination round.
Scott-Payne was defeated by the first seed in the quarter-finals 10-7, despite showing impressive defence and well-timed attacks, while Teale and Hodgson, seeded fourth and sixth, won through to the semis, where they faced each other.
Neither gave an inch but Hodgson emerged victorious, 10-8.
The youngster went on to fight an almost perfect final.
He took an early lead, drawing his opponent’s attack and then varying his response as his opponent missed.
Such variation meant his opponent didn't know what was coming next and, having built a healthy seven-point lead, Hodgson sat back and let his opponent try to chase him down, which he was unable to do as the Prior Park boy emerged with a 10-6 victory.
Hodgson said: “I am so excited to win this county championship after coming close on a number of occasions and now look forward to the nationals later this year.”
The under 10 girls had a smaller but just as competitive field. Niamh Preston reached the semi-finals stage, only to lose 8-6.
Not one to be deterred by such a setback, Preston refocused her efforts to win her remaining contests and finished in second place. She said: “We have one victory each now and I will fence differently next time, probably at the nationals.”
The boys’ under 12 competition contained a number of national level fencers and was always going to be a challenging age group.
At the end of the pool stage Jubril Amzart was placed third, having beaten Ben Simmonds on the way.
However, both first and second seeds had lost a match and their points difference was the same, meaning there was a play-off to decide the top two spots.
Simmonds was not to be denied. Having studied the speed and distance of his opponent, he ensured he closed him down, forcing him to miss and Simmonds to hit.
This approach, combined with varied attacks and ripostes, saw Simmonds safely home to become the overall under 12 winner.
Henry Hurndall also put up a great fight in this pool against much more experienced fencers.
The girls’ under 14 section was fiercely competitive, with Katherine Scott-Payne putting in a fine display to finish with a bronze medal.
Along the way she only lost to the first and second-placed girls, and these defeats were by narrow margins.
Scott-Payne kept up a quick pace throughout her bouts, varying distance to make her opponents miss, so she could then hit them as they stepped back.
She also timed her attacks very well and with more variation could have turned narrow defeats into victories.
She said: “I am learning patience in my fights and will look to improve on this result in the future.”
Coach Neil Bromley said: “This year’s Wiltshires was an exceptionally encouraging performance from all the Prior Park team, which ended with a six medal haul, comprising two champions, one second and three thirds.
“The effort and determination in winning, combined with chivalry in losing, was a pleasure to witness.
“The school has fencers of great character and aptitude and, with more competitive experience and fine tuning of blade skills, I am confident more successes will come.
“I have been very impressed with how well they have all performed this term and look forward to greater successes in future.
“Well done everyone.”
Headmaster Mark Pearce said: “These results at the Wiltshire County Fencing Championships are truly outstanding and testament to the attitude of our pupils to always give 100 per cent and never give in.
“Together with Neil Bromley, we are putting together an excellent fencing structure here at Prior Park to further widen the opportunities available to our pupils.”