Published: Mar 04, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Mar 02, 2012 06:02 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Led by the third-place finishes of Natalie Bulik-Sullivan and Gabe Foster, plus a 14th-place for Nikhil Shankar, state champion Chapel Hill High School finished strong in both women's and men's fencing last Saturday in the N.C. Fencing League tournament held at East Chapel Hill.
CHHS and the hosts at East produced several top-20 finishers, said Chapel Hill coach Doug Guild. Bulik-Sullivan and Foster had the best finishes for Chapel Hill, which won the NCFL's dual-team tournament the weekend before, ending up with a 14-1 record.
"It was a nice showing," said Guild.
Chapel Hill's dual-team victory made CHHS just the third program to win an NCFL title in the Olympic sport's young life in North Carolina.
Unlike collegiate teams that compete in foil, epee and sabre, North Carolina Fencing League matches are contested only in foil.
Fewer than a dozen North Carolina schools field club teams in the NCFL, which includes Carlisle Prep of Martinsville, Va., among its members.
The other NCFL members are an eclectic mix from the mountains to the sea, including Elkin, Eden Morehead High School, CHHS and East Chapel Hill, Durham's N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, parochial Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville and the Cape Fear Fencing Association of Wilmington.
"I'd say we're about where lacrosse was in North Carolina a few years ago," Guild said. "We're still trying to grow the sport among North Carolina high schools.
"It took lacrosse some time, but now it's a sport recognized by the (N.C.) High School Athletic Association. We're working on that."
Despite the presence of one of the nation's most successful programs at nearby UNC, Chapel Hill and East have not dominated the sport in its early years the way they did in lacrosse or even soccer.
The Buckin' Elks of Elkin High School won six straight NCFL state championships before East Chapel Hill won the 2011 NCFL title.
That Wildcat team was led by Issac Sears, now a member of the University of North Carolina varsity.
East Chapel Hill High's Simon Carsey won the 2009 NCFL individual championship, coached by Joe Walker and Guild.
Guild, a Maryland native who fenced sabre for Ron Miller's varsity in the 1970s, helped start the programs at N.C. Science and Math and East Chapel Hill. He coached Chapel Hill to 14 straight wins this season after an opening loss to Carlisle.
A consultant with his own firm, Prescott Environmental Associates, Guild also teaches fencing classes out of the Ballet School on Franklin Street and helps run theChapel Hill Fencing Club.
"I'm trying to do my little bit to help grow the sport in North Carolina," Guild said.