Fencing teams thwart Rutgers and Vassar

After more than a month out of action, Yale fencing got under way again Friday night at Rutgers’ Avenue Gym.

The Bulldogs competed against both Rutgers and Vassar, avenging last year’s loss to the Scarlet Knights. The women (4-0, 1-0 Ivy) were victorious over Rutgers, 20-7, and won by an even larger margin — 22-5 — over Vassar. The men (2-1) came out strong as well, fencing their way to a 21-6 triumph against Vassar and prevailing over Rutgers, 19-8.

Women’s captain Zane Selkirk ’04 was satisfied with the results of this year’s debut match.

“I was pleased with everyone, myself included,” Selkirk said. “It was a good start for the beginning of the second half of our season.”

Selkirk went undefeated in her six foil bouts versus Vassar and Rutgers. Overall, the foil women dominated, winning all nine bouts against Vassar and taking eight of nine from Rutgers.

Though head coach Henry Harutunian hastened to point out that both Rutgers and Yale lost key fencers to a national tournament taking place last weekend, he was pleased with this year’s results.

“Because we were working hard, it was a natural transition,” Harutunian said. “We’re on the right track.”

Against Vassar, the women dominated consistently, winning the saber, 8-1, and the epee, 5-4. But the bouts against Rutgers proved to be more difficult.

Following the first round against the Scarlet Knights, the Bulldogs found themselves down 5-4. After this initial scare, however, the women regrouped and fought their way to an eventual victory.

“They really pulled it out,” Selkirk said. “Everyone really shined.”

The men dominated their opponents for the most part as well. The Bulldogs won all nine saber bouts and eight of the nine in epee against Vassar. Though foil was edged out 5-4, men’s captain Cameron Hill ’02 attributed this performance to the illness of a key foiler, Daniel Senft ’03.

Hill, who competes in epee, went undefeated versus the Brewers. Against the Scarlet Knights he contributed to the 6-3 Eli epee victory, winning two of three bouts. The Bulldogs rounded out their performance with a 7-2 win in foil and a 6-3 triumph in saber.

Hill anticipated the win over Rutgers, though going into the match he admitted his uncertainty as to exactly how the team would perform. Hill felt that the greatest danger coming off of the monthlong break was not so much physical as psychological.

“Nobody felt out of shape,” Hill said. “But we were a little worried after our uncharacteristic loss to NYU [in December].”

After the wins, the fencers are confident about their chances in the upcoming match against Brandeis University Wednesday.

“Last year we crushed Brandeis,” Hill said. “I expect a similar performance.”

Though also optimistic, Selkirk emphasized that the teams will have to continue to practice at a high level.

“I’m confident that we can take Brandeis,” Selkirk said. “But we have to keep working hard.”

For the fencers, the next Ivy challenge will come in two weekends against the University of Pennsylvania, a school that edged out Yale in last year’s match.

“[Penn] will definitely be more interesting this year,” Hill said.

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