FENCING | Bulldogs show promise despite stiff competition

Lauren Miller ’15 took 10th place in the foil competition, which was the team’s best performance.
Lauren Miller ’15 took 10th place in the foil competition, which was the team’s best performance. Photo by Zeenat Mansoor.

The Bulldogs travelled to Philadelphia this weekend for the Penn State Garret Open, beginning their season with a promising start.

The men and women’s fencing teams each sent three members to the tournament. Each weapon was well-represented on the leaderboards for both days of the round-robin tournament. The Elis faced nine other teams, including Princeton, last year’s Ivy League champion and NCAA runner-up.

“[The Garret Open] is always a really hard tournament,” epeeist Peter Cohen ’14 said. “There are a lot of solid schools that come out, each with really good fencers. There are really no weak points in the lineups.”

Foilist Lauren Miller ’15 said the team members agreed that there were no easy bouts throughout the tournament. Unlike regular season competition, the Garret Open is scored individually. It does not count toward the team record, nor is it factored into individual NCAA records, according to Miller.

“As challenging as the day was for everyone, it was a great reality check,” Miller said. “We had the opportunity to practice against talented fencers while not having to worry too much about losing bouts.”

On Saturday, two members of the women’s epee squad made it into the direct elimination round after three rounds of highly competitive pools. Captain and epeeist Robyn Shaffer ’13 placed 14th in a field of 46 competitors. Not far behind was epeeist Katherine Miller ’16, who placed 16th.

Lauren Miller took 10th place in foil competition, which proved to be the team’s best performance. Since only 33 epeeists participated in the tournament, there were just two rounds of pools before the direct elimination bracket.

“I think we did fairly well,” Shaffer said. “It’s a hard tournament, but we had some really good bouts. I think it was a good way to see where we are against the competition.”

On Sunday, members of the men’s foil and saber squads also appeared on the leaderboards, due to an outstanding performances by the team’s newest members. Freshmen foilists Brian Wang ’16 and Jin Ishizuka ’16 placed 10th and 13th respectively in foil competition. Meanwhile, Hugh O’Cinneide ’15 of the saber squad finished in 11th place.

“Overall, we probably didn’t do as well as we had hoped to do, but we had a strong showing from our freshmen,” Cohen said.

Cohen finished in 20th place in the men’s epee competition.

The teams will build off what they learned at Penn as in-season practices continue.

“For the next couple of weeks, the main focus point at practice will be to increase the competition level and bouting experience,” Shaffer said. “For a month or so, we’ve been working on drilling and conditioning. Now it’s time to put that towards a more competitive situation.”

The Bulldogs will have their first team meet at Brandeis Invitational in Waltham, Mass. on Dec. 2.

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