Eli fencers dazzle in Garden State

After finishing a combined 2-9 in conference competition, the men’s and women’s fencing squads turned in what was arguably their overall best performance of the season in Saturday’s IFA Championships.

The men’s foil squad placed third overall, and the women’s and men’s teams each had five fencers finish in the top 16 of their weapon classes. With their surprising performance in Lawrenceville, N.J., the Elis push towards the finish of one of Yale fencing’s best years in recent history in impressive fashion.

Rookie phenom John Gurrieri ’10 competes in the foil event at NYU on Nov. 30. He was part of Yale’s three-man foil squad that finished third at Saturday’s IFA Championships.
Matt Lucas
Rookie phenom John Gurrieri ’10 competes in the foil event at NYU on Nov. 30. He was part of Yale’s three-man foil squad that finished third at Saturday’s IFA Championships.

The men’s foil squad, composed of Michael Aboodi ’07, John Gurrieri ’10 and Andrew Holbrook ’10, finished third overall against nationally-ranked programs from Columbia, Harvard, Penn and Princeton. At the individual level, Gurrieri, Holbrook, Michael Pearce ’09, John Beski ’07 and Bradley Broadhead ’08 all placed in the top 16 in their weapon classes. Pearce, who was just named second-team All-Ivy, paced the team with a second-place finish in the epee.

“I was very happy with the team, and it was a great performance,” Aboodi said. “Pearce came in second and he was amazing. He was on fire.”

Despite the foil squad’s strong performance, Gurrieri still came away from the competition wanting more.

“This tournament is pretty much all for glory, and they give out all these giant trophies,” Gurrieri said. “One of these trophies is for the best foil team. It’s called the ‘Iron Man’ and it’s pretty much the best trophy ever. It’s the best fencing prize in the world and I intend to win it before I graduate. That’s my pledge.”

The women also saw five Bulldogs finish in the top 16 and were led by epeeist Rebecca Moss’ ’10 fourth-place overall finish. Moss was recently named second-team All-Ivy and was coming off a 14th-place showing at the Junior Olympics two weeks ago.

Moss, despite turning in one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in recent memory, was still not entirely satisfied with her performance.

“I think I did pretty well, but I lost my last bout and I was kind of broken about that,” Moss said. “I was disappointed that I didn’t [WIN THE?] medal, but we had a pretty good day overall.”

Senior captain and foilist Alisa Mendelsohn ’07, the only Bulldog to be awarded first-team All-Ivy, also finished in the top 16 and carried the Elis in the weeks before with a 13-5 record at the Ivy North and South competitions. Although the Bulldogs will have a huge void to fill upon Mendelsohn’s graduation, the team looks to be in good hands as the surprisingly talented freshman class continues to impress. In addition to Moss, foilist Lidia Gocheva ’10 and saberist Farrah Kimovec ’10 joined saberist Erin Frey ’08 with a top 16 finish.

The Bulldogs’ strong showing at the IFA Championships was particularly impressive considering their disappointing finish at the Ivy Championships. The women’s squad finished 1-5; the men didn’t fare much better with a 1-4 overall record. The Elis pushed those losses a little bit further into the past with their performance this weekend.

“It was good for people who had lost some bouts to some people who they didn’t feel like they should have lost to,” Aboodi said. “When you see a school the second time around, you’re a little bit more experienced.”

The format of IFA Championships was also more conducive to the Bulldogs’ success.

“The style of the tournament is a lot different,” Moss said. “You’re matching up your best with the other school’s best. We do better fencing people on our level.”

The Elis square off in the NCAA Regional Championships in Somerville, Mass. next week.

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