1990 FENCING TEAM: THE FIRST OVERALL STATE TEAM CHAMPIONS FOR COACH DERRICK HOFF
The 1990 Fencing team joins the ’92 club that was inducted to St. Benedict’s Hall of Fame.
Coach Derrick Hoff, inducted into St. Benedict’s Hall of Fame in 2014, steered the 1990 team to rarified status is 1990. The team, captained by seniors Keymonte Crooms and Shorne Lawrence, won the overall New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association team championship for the first time by capturing the Foil and Epee disciplines, and placing third in Sabre. It was the second successive state title by the Gray Bee Foil contingent.
St. Benedict’s, which started its fencing program only six years earlier under Hoff, a state champion Foilist himself for Essex Catholic in 1978 & ’79, fended off Ramapo for the state title by a 73-69 margin. Steve Simonov, a native of Russia, and Tramond French won the overall Foil and Epee titles, respectively. Simonov went 21-1 during the season and avenged his only loss later in the season. French went 25-0 during his dual meet season. Jerome Fernandez, a Newark native, was second to Simonov in the Foil competition during the state tournament championship at Voorhees High School.
The Gray Bees also captured the Cetrulo Tournament title. The Cetrulo Tournament is considered the most prestigious tournament in the country and brings in teams from all over the United States.
The team posted and unblemished record of 16-0 during the winter of 1990 and gave Hoff’s team a two-year winning streak of 33-0.
The number of individual awards for the 1990 team were staggering. Jerome Fernandez and Simonov both wound up First-Team All-State, while Justo Rosario and Clayton Walton each received Third Team All-State honors.