After an exciting off-season which saw the recruitment of talented freshmen and a team member win an Olympic medal, the Yale women’s fencing team was able to translate the summer success into a solid season-opener.

The Bulldogs started the season strong at the Penn State Garrett Open held this past weekend. Yale’s top performance came in the foil competition where Diana Schawlowski ’08 placed seventh.

The Garrett Open, an individual meet comprised of hundreds of fencers from dozens of schools, provided the Elis with a competitive warm-up before starting their team bouts later this month.

Epeeist Erica Korb ’05 thought the weekend was a positive indicator of the season to come.

“Overall, I think the women’s team performed well and I’m happy with our results,” Korb said. “We all have to sharpen up our fencing before the bulk of our meets start. But since this is the first meet, I think we’re on track for where we should be at this point in our season.”

Korb led the epee squad with a ninth place finish, while Carly Guss ’06 was the saber team’s top performer with a fourteenth place finish.

Guss explained the value of the Open as an opportunity to not only evaluate the Yale fencers, but competitors from other schools as well.

“You get to assess people individually and identify their personal strengths and weaknesses,” Guss said. “It’s good to see how other people [from different schools] are fencing. A lot of the schools at the Open will be teams we’ll be facing later in the Ivy League.”

The Bulldogs hope to build on last season. Last year, despite having many members without any previous fencing experience, Yale finished a respectable fourteenth at last spring’s NCAA Championships in Waltham, Mass. The Bulldogs come into this season with the same core group from last year. One of the key returning fencers is Sada Jacobson ’06, who won a bronze medal in the saber division at this summer’s Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece. Overall, the Bulldogs are still relatively inexperienced, but Jacobson contends that it should not be an issue this season.

“Overall, we don’t have as much combined experience as some of the other Ivy teams,” Jacobson said. “But we’ve put ourselves in a position to do well and to challenge them.”

Jacobson did not compete last weekend.

The addition of many experienced freshmen provides the team with talent and depth. The Class of 2008 flashed its potential at the Garrett Open. Besides Schawlowski’s impressive performance, Erin Frey ’08 had a strong showing as she finished fifteenth in the saber competition.

Jacobson said other reasons for optimism are the solid practices and training sessions the Bulldogs have had so far.

“I would say that I think we’ve been training in a much more efficient, logical way than in previous years,” Jacobson said. “Everyone seems enthusiastic and willing to work. Now the crucial element will be in developing our competitiveness and aggressiveness — especially on the women’s team. The more we start to show that killer instinct, the better shape we’ll be in for competition.

The Bulldogs open team competition against NYU Nov. 30 in New Haven.

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