If the men’s fencing team was concerned about filling the gaps that last year’s seniors left in the lineup, Cory Werk ’06 put many of those concerns to rest Nov. 16 at the Garret Penn State Open.
Werk finished first in foil and Luke Ferreira ’03 finished 14th in sabre. The tournament, an individual competition that featured 146 fencers from more than 15 prominent programs, was a warmup for team competition. The Bulldogs begin their team season at home Dec. 3 against New York University.
“It’s a really good early gauge in the season about how you and your teammates stack up against the competition,” epee team captain James Rohrbach ’05 said.
The tournament consisted of three pool rounds of four or five matches each and then four rounds of direct competition. In order to win the foil competition, Werk had to complete around 20 matches, team manager Will Tauxe ’05 said.
“Competitions like this are very grueling,” Tauxe said.
Werk is the biggest recruit for the team in the last two or three years, Rohrbach said.
Ferreira advanced out of the pools, but was eliminated in the first round of direct competition.
Rohrbach finished 20th in epee.
Bobby Garcia ’06, a walk-on, gave what head coach Henry Harutunian called a “surprise performance.” Garcia performed well at the tournament despite the fact that he has only been fencing for two months.
Team captain Byron Igoe ’04 had a wrist injury that kept him out of the competition.
In a year where there is only one senior and freshmen comprise nearly one-third of the men’s fencing team, the Bulldogs will have to rely on their youthful energy rather than veteran experience.
“We’ve got a team full of people who love the sport,” Igoe said. “We’re relying a little bit more on the freshmen walk-ons.”
Last year, the team finished second in the Ivy League and finally managed to beat Princeton, who had consistently defeated them in the past, Harutunian said.
“This year will be more tough,” Harutunian said. “We are rebuilding this team.”
Harutunian said that preparing for the match against NYU has been made more difficult by the Thanksgiving break and the Game. The fencers will return the Sunday after the holiday and then have a light practice on Monday before competing on Tuesday.
Despite the shortened practice time and young team, Rohrbach believes the Bulldogs may exceed Harutunian’s expectations.
“After how we performed at Penn State, I feel really confident going into NYU and expect to come out of there with a victory and roll into the Ivy League season after winter break,” Rohrbach said.