By Mike Bebernes
Lowell sophomore Alex Cheng won the boys state championship and Eliza Klyce from Convent of the Sacred Heart took the girls title in the All-State Invitational Fencing Tournament held at Lowell High School on Saturday.
Cheng defeated Edbert Chan of Mountain View High School 15-13 in a dramatic back-and-forth final match. This was Cheng’s first state championship, which came three weeks to the day after he won his second-straight All-City title.
“It just feels awesome,” said Cheng.
After cruising through the opening rounds, Cheng faced top-seeded Jason Chang of Mountain View in the semifinals.
“I definitely felt a little intimidated when I found out [the Mountain View fencers] would come,” said Cheng.
The two traded points throughout the intense match, but Cheng eventually came out the victor 15-12. Chang defeated Lick-Wilmerding’s Aaron Goldstein in the consolation match to clinch third place.
In the final, Cheng built a commanding 10-3 lead in the first period. Chan made an adjustment and rallied to tie the match at 12-12.
“Obviously [Chan] was going to change something because he was behind,” said Cheng. “So then I ended up changing perfectly for the way for him to come back. I should have stayed with what I was doing.”
Cheng then scored three of the next four points to seal the victory.
Cheng fences in an up-tempo, unorthodox style that seemed to catch his last two opponents off guard. He credits his non-traditional technique for bringing him success.
“I guess I’m just fencing. A lot of times people ask me after ‘what did you do?’ and I don’t know. That’s my way. It just works,” said Cheng. “I like fencing abnormally.”
The girls bracket lacked some of the drama of the boys side, primarily due to domination by Klyce.
Klyce won her first two matches handily to face All-City winner Amanda Zerbe in the final. Zerbe had beaten third-place finisher Jayne Stewart in the semifinal.
In the final, Klyce built an early 11-3 lead by countering many of Zerbe’s attacks.
Zerbe strung together a few points later in the match, but never shrank the margin under six points. Klyce closed out the match with a 15-8 win.
“There’s certain styles that you’re good at because your style works well against it,” said Klyce. “[Zerbe] is a really great fencer but the way I was taught fencing versus the style that she has it was good for me.”
A perfect contrast to boys champion Cheng, Klyce fences with a methodical, deliberate style that lacks much of the dramatic lunging and jumping of other fencers.
“My mom’s a sports psychologist she does a lot of cooling exercises with me,” said Klyce. “I guess I’m just naturally chill.”