A season that began full of championship hopes but fell prey to injuries and sickness reflected itself in the results of the NCAA championships in Wisconsin Sunday, as the fencing team, which had hoped to place in the top five, took ninth place overall.
Sada Jacobson ’04 led the women with a first-place finish and national championship in women’s saber. The Bulldogs sent seven fencers to the four-day event, placing three fencers in the top 10 of their respective competitions. Foil squad member Daniel Senft ’03 led the men with an eighth-place finish in men’s foil.
Foil squad members Zane Selkirk ’04 and Jennifer Joseph ’04 finished ninth and 19th, respectively. Saberist Sophie Jones ’03 finished 16th, epee squad member Cameron Hill ’02 finished 19th and saberist Luke Ferreira ’02 finished 22nd.
Over 144 fencers competed in the championships, with 24 fencers in each category. After seven rounds of preliminary five-touch bouts, the top four fencers went into single elimination bouts.
Jacobson qualified for the gold medal bout at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, but the final bout was not scheduled to start until 4:30 p.m. Head coach Henry Harutunian helped Jacobson remain calm in the interim.
“When I get nervous, my fencing tightens up,” Jacobson said. “The whole day, he was telling me to loosen up. He said it was more important to fence well than to win the bouts.”
By the time Jacobson dismissed St. John’s University’s Marissa Mustilli 15-6 in the final bout, the championship victory brought more relief than excitement.
“I was really happy [the tournament] was over,” Jacobson said. “The whole weekend, my fencing was pretty strong.”
But not every fencer had the same relieving experience.
“Personally, I was very disappointed with my performance,” Hill said. “There was a certain lack of mental preparation due in part to the weak showing this season.”
In preparation for next season, the men’s team plans to restructure their practices so squad members are better prepared for individual competitions.
“We weren’t isolating problems like we should have been,” Hill said.
Despite finishing 16th out of 24 competitors, Jones remained pleased with her performance.
“I fenced solidly,” Jones said. “I was happy with most of my bouts but could have fenced better the first day. I was just happy to have a winning record.”
While most of the team has finished competiting for the year, Jacobson will continue to take her show on the road when she competes at the Junior World Championship in Poland April 7. Next year, Jacobson plans to do a better job of balancing her commitments both at home and abroad.
“This year, I felt like I was biting off more than I could chew,” Jacobson said.
While the Bulldogs will have to wait until next January for more Ivy competition, the daughters of Eli already have their eyes on next February and H-Y-Ps.
“Next year, we want to get the Ivy title,” Jones said. “[The title] has been the goal since I got here.”
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