Women’s fencing falters at HYPs



Zane Selkirk ’04 had to take a year-long hiatus due to an injury suffered in her sophomore year. But Selkirk rejoined the Yale women’s fencing team just in time.

Selkirk proved her value this weekend, overcoming Harvard’s top epeeist with a nail-biting 5-4 victory in the third and deciding bout on Saturday at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, hosted by Princeton. Duke also participated in the meet.

But despite Selkirk’s exciting win, the Elis (5-7, 1-4 Ivy) were unable to defeat Harvard (10-5, 2-3), Princeton (8-2, 3-2 ), or Duke. All three teams are much more experienced than the young Bulldogs. Yale fell to Princeton 17-10, to Harvard 20-7, and Duke 19-8.

After taking last season off due to injury, Selkirk rejoined the Eli squad on Jan. 25 hoping for little else than to aid the inexperienced epee squad. A foil fencer prior to her injury, Selkirk has provided the Eli epeeist with an unlikely star and with veteran leadership.

“Zane Selkirk took out Harvard’s Jasmine McGlade,” Yale captain Erica Korb ’05 said, “Since McGlade is one of the top fencers in collegiate women’s epee right now, that’s pretty impressive.”

Despite Selkirk’s exciting win, the Elis (5-7, 1-4 Ivy) were unable to defeat Harvard (10-5, 2-3), Princeton (8-2, 3-2 ), or Duke. All three teams are much more experienced than the young Bulldogs. Yale fell to Princeton 17-10, to Harvard 20-7, and Duke 19-8.

The last regular season match of the season has traditionally been a three-way meet between Harvard-Yale-Princeton. But this season, Duke was added to the competition list two days before the event. Korb said that the Blue Devil’s late entry caught the Elis by surprise.

“I think a lot of the team was not fencing their best against Duke, but this isn’t particularly surprising since we went into the weekend all pumped to fence the two other top Ivy schools and were only told we were fencing Duke two days before the meet,” Korb said.

Fencing competitions consist of 27 bouts each, and matches are scored individually against each school. Each weapon fences nine bouts, represented by the top three members of each group, who each fence three bouts. Within each bout the first fencer to reach five touches wins. The Bulldogs collectively fenced a total of 81 bouts on Saturday.

The Eli epee squad had the strongest performances of the weekend, beating Princeton 6-3 but narrowly losing to Harvard 5-4 and to Duke 6-3. In addition to her close win against the Crimson, Selkirk also triumphed over Princeton undefeated. Squadmate Korb proved herself unbeatable against the Blue Devils.

The younger Bulldogs drew inspiration from the performances of these two veteran team members.

Alisa Mendelsohn ’07, who has consistently proven herself to be Yale’s top foil fencer, won 2-1 against both Harvard and Princeton, but had a 1-2 loss to Duke. Mendelsohn, also turned in an exciting performance against the Tigers’ top foilist — Jacqueline Leahy. Leahy, second in the nation in her weapon, needed all three bouts including an agonizing 5-4 third bout to dispatch Mendelsohn narrowly lost to Leahy, 5-4.

“[Leahy is] an amazing fencer, number two in the country, and it was nice to feel as though I was competition for her,” Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn was the only Eli to represent the blue and white at the Junior Olympics on Feb. 14.

Foil was not as successful as the epee squad, losing 6-3 against Princeton, 8-1 against Harvard, and 5-4 against Duke.

Yale saber lost all of three of its matchups 8-1.

While some would be easily discouraged by this weekend’s defeats, the young Bulldogs remain optimistic.

“It’s a lot of fun when you get the chance to fence strong fencers, and competing against both Harvard and Princeton gave us that opportunity,” Selkirk said.

Korb maintains that the Elis continue to rebuild and look for new ways to improve.

Next, Yale will compete in the IFA Championships on Mar. 6, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

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