After a season full of expectations, the men’s and women’s fencing teams ended their seasons in fourth and fifth place respectively at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association championships March 3.
But thanks to strong performances from individual team members at the northeast regional championships March 12, the Bulldogs will send seven team members to the NCAA championships March 22-25. Saberist Luke Ferreira ’02, epee squad member Cameron Hill ’02, foil squad member Daniel Senft ’03, saberists Sada Jacobson ’04 and Sophie Jones ’03 and foil squad members Zane Selkirk ’04 and Jennifer Joseph ’04 will all travel to Wisconsin for the national championship.
Of the Bulldogs heading to the NCAAs, three are freshmen, representing an unusually strong freshman class.
“I’m really happy for the freshmen that they get to experience nationals their first year here,” women’s team captain Helen Liu ’02 said. “The more you fence people, the better you’ll be the next time around. We wouldn’t be surviving without the freshmen.”
Each team in the IFA selected their best three fencers for each weapon and each fencer competed in a different preliminary bracket using a round-robin format. After the preliminary round, the top six fencers in the top bracket, the top three fencers in the second bracket and the top two fencers in the third bracket advanced to an individual elimination tournament.
Saberist Liu led the women (10-3, 4-2 Ivy) with a first place finish in the individual saber competition while the best the men (5-6, 2-3) could manage was a seventh place finish from foil squad member Daniel Senft ’03.
The women were without Jacobson at IFAs, who was at a national tournament.
Liu attributes the women’s fifth place finish to inexperience.
“The women did the best they could [at IFAs],” Liu said. “A lot of people did the best they could. We could have done better but we finished right where we should have given the inexperience we had.”
The men also were missing key members. Saberist Byron Igoe ’04 was out with a broken foot and foil squad member Peter Cellini ’04 was out with a virus.
“It was a good performance given the fact that we were missing important team members,” Senft said. “We couldn’t compensate for them. Overall, [the bouts] went fine.”
At regionals, which were held at Boston College, Senft and men’s team captain Cameron Hill ’02 improved upon their performances at IFAs. Senft finished fourth out of a field of 29 while Hill, who did not qualify for the finals at IFAs, finished ninth at regionals. Although the men’s team only qualified three team members for regionals, all three qualified for the NCAA championships.
“[Qualifying for NCAAs] was at least some vindication,” Hill said.
Although Liu entered regionals seeded third, she finished the tournament in 18th place, and did not qualify for NCAAs.
“NCAAs was a huge disappointment for me,” Liu said. “I have no idea how [not qualifying for NCAAs] happened. I was pretty shocked at what happened. It wasn’t exactly the way I pictured seeing my season ending. Something was missing.”
In preparation for the national tournament this weekend, team members have reverted to an individual focus.
“We’ve been training as individuals,” Hill said. “A lot of people have gone home to their own clubs to focus on their own games. I just want people to go and enjoy themselves.”
There will be a total of 144 fencers in Wisconsin for the four day event, with 24 fencers for each weapon.
“If I make it to the final four, anything is possible,” Senft said. “The hard part is having to put forth a solid performance over two days.”