FENCING | Foilists lead Yale at Open

Foilists Nat Botwinick ’11 and Katharine Pitt ’12 led Yale fencing with top-10 finishes at the Penn State Open individual tournament two weekends ago in State College, Pa.

Botwinick finished in fourth place and Pitt finished in sixth, while the men’s foil squad as a whole saw four of its six fencers place in the top 16.

The Penn State Open is an individual event that serves as a warm-up for the regular season and does not count towards a team’s NCAA ranking. The Open, however, is the teams’ first opportunity to face major rivals and is used by the coaches to determine the starting lineups, captain and epéeist Rebecca Moss ’10 said.

Besides Botwinick, John Gurrieri ’10 placed 12th, Taylor Gregorie-Wright ’12 placed 14th and Jonathan Holbrook ’12 placed 15th. The only team with more top 16 foil finishers was Notre Dame, a perennial powerhouse, according to captain Andrew Holbrook ’10.

“The foil team had a great performance today, and we were all glad to see that we’ll be able to count on them this coming season,” Holbrook said.

The women’s team also found success. Pitt, a returning all-American, led the team with a sixth-place finish.

“We were expecting her to upset one of the best girls from Ohio State,” Moss said. “She fenced well, but the other girl had a lot more experience. We are definitely going to depend on her again this year.”

Moss also highlighted the strong showing by the freshmen on the women’s side.

“Jennifer Ivers [’10] and myself should have been leading the team,” she said. “[But] the freshmen were great and stepped in.”

Saberist Madeline Oliver ’13 led the class of 2013 with a ninth place finish.

Yet Moss said she was disappointed with the way the saber squad performed, saying they did not compete at their best.

“Several members [of the senior class] did not make it out of pools [preliminary bouts],” Moss said. “But we like to think about it in a positive way. It was not their best days, but they’re definitely going to bounce back from it, and they were able to gain a lot of experience.”

The freshmen men also performed well at the Open. Colin Mills ’13 led the saber squad with a seventh place finish in his first collegiate competition, while saberists Nathaniel Benzimra ’13 placed 20th and Will Zhao ’13 placed 29th.

“It was very exciting having the first tournament with the team, because it’s typically a very individual sport, unless you fenced for your high school,” Oliver said. “It was an amazing feeling to hear a bunch of people who you spend two hours of your day with cheer you on. Everyone was very into it. I really enjoyed it.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete at the Brandeis Invitational in Waltham, Mass., on Dec. 5.

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