While the stars definitely shined in this weekend’s fencing meet, it still took a group effort for the men and women’s squads to end the team season on a high note.
Both teams rode great individual performances on their way to strong finishes at Saturday’s ECAC Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships at Brown. The men and women finished fifth and fourth respectively as the combined Yale team placed fourth overall in the field of 12.
“I think this was a great end to our team season,” captain Erica Korb ’05 said. “Nearly every fencer did as well or better than expected, which is rare in a sport that is so dependent on being mentally focused. It’s pretty easy for even the best fencers to just lose concentration and therefore have a bad day or lose an important bout that they should have won.”
The women’s team proved Saturday that their winning record was no fluke. The highlight of the weekend was the impressive performance put on by the saber team, which finished second behind Penn. Olympic bronze medallist Sada Jacobson ’06 led the way with a dominating showing, winning 11 qualifying bouts to earn the No. 1 seed in the elimination round. Jacobson did not slow down, beating teammate Erin Frey ’08 — who had nine victories — en route to the finals. In the final round, Jacobson dispatched younger sister and Columbia freshman Emily Jacobson to win the individual gold medal.
But Jacobson’s was not the only gold medal Yale fencers earned. Korb started the day with seven victories in the epee qualifying rounds to earn the fourth seed for the elimination rounds. Korb then won three close bouts in a row, including a 15-10 victory over Columbia’s Morgan Midley to win the gold. The epee squad finished sixth overall.
The foil closed out the women’s strong showing, finishing fifth as a team. Alisa Mendelsohn ’07 won nine qualifying bouts and finished fifth in the elimination round to lead the foil squad.
After a difficult season, the men’s team put their 0-4 Ivy record behind them and fenced consistently well throughout the day. The epee squad led the way, finishing second behind Harvard, and captain James Rohrbach ’05 and John Beski ’07 steered the team as they have all season. Rohrbach and Beski both qualified for the quarterfinals, placing eighth and sixth respectively. Will Tauxe ’05 added nine victories to the team total.
“I was ecstatic about epee,” Beski said. “We had quality performances from everybody. We all beat people we weren’t necessarily supposed to [beat]. This was a great season for the epee. We only lost three times and two were against teams with World Championship and Olympic experience.”
The men’s saber followed closely with a fourth place finish. Chris Peterson ’07 and Harry Flaster ’05 paved the way with six wins apiece. Peterson finished ninth in the individual rounds.
The Bulldogs’ top individual performance came in the foil. While the squad placed ninth in the team competition, Cory Werk ’06 did not disappoint. Werk started off with four victories in the qualifying round to earn the eighth seed. After dispatching the ninth seed, Werk reminded everyone why he was second at last year’s NCAA Championships by upsetting No. 1 seed Mike Kantor from Vassar. Werk’s streak came to an end in the final round as he lost a closely contested match to Penn’s Ronald Berkowsky to earn the silver medal.
Next weekend the Bulldogs will host the NCAA Individual Qualifying Tournament. Carly Guss ’06 said she has already set personal goals for next weekend.
“It would, of course, be fantastic to qualify for nationals,” Guss said. “But if I finish the day knowing that I have fenced my best I will be satisfied.”
Mendelsohn said while the Qualifying Tournament is an individual event, there is still a team mentality involved.
“I hope that we get at least one person from every weapon to qualify,” Mendelsohn said. “Whether or not I qualify doesn’t really matter, as long as Yale is represented at NCAAs.”
But while the individual season continues, Saturday’s IFA’s marked the end of the team season for the Elis. After up and down seasons, both Yale squads exceeded expectations in the finale. But the strong performance may have been bittersweet for the seniors on the team who saw their team collegiate fencing experience come to end, Korb said.
“As much as we all complain about long bus trips and even longer competitions, I realized just how much I was going to miss traveling with my team next year,” she said. “It is a really great feeling to share a victory with your teammates and I’m glad that we had such a great day in our last team meet of the season.”