They may be a little green around the gills, but the rookie fencers put on a strong showing for the Yale men’s fencing team at the Penn State Open on Nov. 22 and 23.
“The freshmen did great at this meet,” captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. “Regardless of the results, they fenced at the level they need to be fencing at.”
Among the 147 competitors from more than 15 fencing programs from across the nation at the event, epee fencer John Beski ’07 placed sixth and foil fencer Michael Aboodi ’07 placed 19th in their respective events. Epee fencer Will Tauxe ’05 and sabre fencer Harry Flaster ’05 also did well, finishing 16th and 28th in their events respectively.
The Penn State Open was an individual competition consisting of two pool-rounds of four to five bouts each. The first round cut the number of competitors in each pool to 30; the second cut the number of competitors to 24. Those 24 then faced off in a direct elimination bracket. The tournament does not count toward NCAA records.
The solid finish came despite several disadvantages. First of all, the Bulldogs are a relatively young team still in the process of rebuilding. Yale has 14 fresh faces on its squad this season, and the lone senior who was supposed to be on the team — Byron Igoe ’04 — will miss the entire season with an injury. In addition, the Elis were forced to compete in the tourney without two of their top fencers — foil fencer Corey Werke ’06 and sabre fencer Chris Peterson ’07. Werke finished first in the foil event at last year’s open, while Peterson is considered one of the top freshman competitors in his event.
The Elis discovered a sense of team chemistry at the tournament that makes them optimistic about the rest of the season.
“At Penn State we really saw how well the team was able to work together, and we were all able to fall back on each other,” Aboodi said. “Maybe we don’t have the skills of a good team, or the experience, but that’ll all come and we will be a great team.”
According to Rohrbach, improvement will come from continual practice.
“We just need to keep working hard and getting better,” he said. “We can’t be at this level in January, but I feel like we’re where we need to be for November.”
Rohrbach stresses that each member has his own strengths and weaknesses and has to improve in different areas.
Regardless of their level of ability, the Bulldogs will have their first real competition today at NYU. Unlike the Penn State Open, today’s contest against the Violets will count toward the Elis’ season record.
The contest is organized so that Yale’s three starters in each weapon will face NYU’s starters in 27 total bouts, each bout being worth a point. The winner is whoever wins at least 14 bouts.
Last year, the Elis edged out the Violets 14-13 due to the efforts of the teams foil corps — Werke, Nathan Elchert ’05 and Daniel Senft ’03, who graduated in May.
Despite the win last year, Yale head coach Henry Harutunian refuses to underestimate the Violets.
“NYU is a very tough team,” he said. “We will do the hardest we can.”
Aboodi, however, is much more confident.
“We’re going to crush NYU,” he said.