By Edward Shaw
Undermanned and injured, the Bulldog fencers struggled to follow up on their triumph at H-Y-Ps as they competed at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships Mar. 2-3.
Yale finished fifth overall as the Eli women placed fourth in the 3-weapon event while the men took seventh. Perennial powerhouse St. John’s University dominated the event, taking first overall by winning both the men’s and women’s 3-weapon events.
The IFA Championships, hosted at Vassar College’s Walker Field House, showcases the competing teams’ top three fencers in each of the men’s and women’s foil, epee and saber events.
The Bulldogs brandished their weapons Saturday in a team competition that split each weapon group into A, B and C strips. The top twelve fencers from Saturday’s events — six from the A-strip, four from the B-strip and two from the C-strip — competed for individual honors Sunday.
The Eli women were without their number one saber, Sada Jacobson ’04, who was competing with the women’s national team over the weekend. The Bulldogs were also hampered by injuries to men’s captain Cameron Hill ’02, women’s captain Zane Selkirk ’04 and Sarah Senk ’03, all of whom withdrew during the weekend.
“I think that the team was a little burned out after the tough season we faced prior to IFAs.” Selkirk said. “It was a little bit difficult for everybody to get as excited as we needed to be.”
In the women’s team competition, the Elis battled to third, fourth and sixth place in the foil, epee and saber, respectively.
Even without Jacobson, the Bulldogs managed to perform well in the saber thanks in large part to the performance of Sophie Jones ’03, who finished third on the B-strip with a score of plus-21. The score is measured by the difference between touches scored and touches received.
“In spite of many injuries, we finished very solidly and it was great that our subs got some competition experience,” Jones said.
Jones took ninth in the finals of the women’s saber.
Selkirk had a strong performance in the foil, recording a score of plus-17 on A-strip, which was good for fourth place. Jennifer Joseph ’04 also won 22 points for the Elis as she finished third on B-strip.
“All things considered, I was surprised how well I ended up doing,” Selkirk said. “Although I was more or less immobile, using simple defensive actions, I was still able to place well on A-strip.”
But injuries cost the Yale women, as Selkirk — who qualified for Sunday with a No. 4 seed — withdrew with a stretched ligament. Joseph represented the Bulldogs well in the foil, though, as she fought to a third place finish in the finals.
“I felt that Sunday was one of my best performances all year,” Joseph said. “I was able to get into the bouts mentally, to focus and to keep the intensity going almost the whole time.”
In the men’s draw, the Elis struggled in all weapon classes. Yale took ninth in the saber and seventh in both the foil and epee.
“Seventh place for the epee squad is disappointing, but not terribly,” said Hill.
Mitsuhiro Sudo ’02 led the saber squad on A-strip as he finished fifth with a score of plus-18.
James Rohrbach ’05 took fourth place on B-strip to bolster the Elis’ epee squad. On A-strip, Michael Alexander ’05 took eighth and Hill took 11th.
“I was especially impressed with James’s and Michael’s fencing,” Hill said.
Sudo and Rohrbach were the only Eli men to qualify for Sunday’s individual event. Both Yale fencers recorded 10th place finishes in the saber and epee, respectively.
The Bulldogs will look to get back on track this Sunday as they compete in the Regional NCAA qualifier at Columbia University.
By Edward Shaw