FENCING: En garde to fencing season

After three months of fall training, the men’s and women’s fencing teams will begin their competitive season this weekend as they travel to Waltham, Mass. for the Brandeis Invitational on Sunday.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to take on Brandeis, MIT, BC, Air Force Academy and St. Johns in all three weapon categories: foil, épée and sabre. While the annual tournament is usually the team’s second of the season, an earlier competition was cancelled in November, making Brandeis the 2013-’14 teams’ debut. Members of both the women’s and men’s squads said they are excited to begin competing after practicing all semester.

“The team has worked incredibly hard over the past few months, demonstrating remarkable determination and dedication,” men’s captain Cornelius Saunders ’14 said. “The training has resulted in visible improvement in individual performances.”

Last year in the Brandeis Invitational, the men’s team beat five opponents, losing only to St. Johns. Peter Cohen ’14 said that he thinks the team is capable of sweeping the tournament this year.

Both Cohen and Hugh O’Cinneide ’15 qualified for the NCAA National Championship last March, finishing in 17th in épée and 11th in sabre, respectively. The team hopes to send more athletes to nationals this season, Cohen said.

Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer ’14 said he is optimistic about the upcoming season and thinks that the new freshmen have had a positive influence on team dynamic. He added that the team is well-balanced this year, both across class years and weapons.

The women’s squad is looking to improve on last year’s result at Brandeis, where it beat MIT and lost to five other opponents. Women’s captain Lauren Miller ’15 said the team is well prepared for the upcoming tournament.

“I think we can bring our fencing up another level this year,” she said. “We have several talented new members and we’ve been working hard all year. With the right mentality going into competitions, we can definitely improve our performance over last season’s.”

Miller and Madeline Oliver ’13 represented the Yale women’s team at the NCAA National Championship last year, alongside Cohen and O’Cinneide. Miller placed 13th in the foil competition and Oliver finished 10th in the saber competition.

The Bulldogs will next compete against Sacred Heart in a home tournament on Jan. 18.

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