In their last bouts before starting team competition later this month, the men’s fencing team competed in the Penn State Open this weekend.
The open is an individual competition and featured a wide variety of powerful collegiate programs such as Ohio State, and the Elis’ Ivy rivals Princeton, Harvard and Penn.
“The way they did the cut and organized who did advanced was really different,” Chris Sinay ’06 said. “I’m not sure how good of an indicator this is of [what's to come]. There were a lot of really good people and it skewed things in my mind.”
The competitions for each weapon featured approximately 60 people. Fencers were put in groups of six or seven, and the group went through a round-robin style competition, with each fencer taking on every other fencer in his group. The bottom of the group was cut, and new groups were formed from the remaining fencers. There were three rounds of this “pool” style, as the field was cut to 36, 24 and then 16. Finally, the remaining 16 fencers participated in a four-round direct elimination tournament.
The best result for the Elis came in the foil competition, where Cory Werk ’06 came in third overall. Werk, who placed second in last spring’s NCAA National Tournament, had won the foil competition at the open as a freshman two years ago.
In epee, two Bulldogs made it to the third round of pools before being eliminated — Will Tauxe ’05 and Steve Miller ’08. And in the sabre competition, Matthew Chaiken ’08 made it the furthest, advancing to the second round of pools.
“It’s great for us to see how we’re doing and what we need to work on,” women’s team captain Erica Korb ’05, whose team also participated in the women’s division of the same tournament, said of the men’s team. “In that respect, I think it served it’s purpose — we all came out of it knowing what we need to work on individually and as a team. And we still had some great results.”
Several Elis said that the event was frustrating because of its format. The Bulldogs had to compete against very strong fencers from larger programs and the tournament was organized much differently than it had been in previous years.
Sinay said it was hard to see how the results of the individual competition could be applied to predicting how the Bulldogs will fare in team competition.
“In team competition, three people compete, seeded one, two, three,” he said. “[At the open], five people fenced. It’s not a good indication — it’s hard to extrapolate how three would do.”
While other team members agreed that the competition was very difficult, several Bulldogs said that they saw the open as a chance to fence and prepare for future competitions, and that the open was useful as experience before the team season begins.
“I think we fenced fairly well,” Harry Flaster ’05 said. “The competition was really tough, but the whole purpose is to prepare us for the regular season. As far as that’s concerned, we fenced well — this should prepare us for our upcoming bouts.”
The Bulldogs begin team competition Nov. 30 against NYU.