Freshmen lead the campaign for fencing at NCAA Championships

The story of the year for the Yale fencing program has been its exceptional freshman class.

Despite their relative inexperience, it was the freshmen who once again led the way at the 2007 NCAA Fencing Championships last Friday. Foilist John Gurrieri ’10 capped off an impressive rookie season with an 18th place finish, the Bulldogs’ highest. On the women’s side, epeeist Rebecca Moss ’10 added to her second-team All-Ivy honors with a 20th place finish.

Despite his relative success, Gurrieri still wasn’t satisfied.

“The NCAAs were really hard, and I was hoping to do a little better,” Gurrieri said. “I want to finish at least 12th next year because that would be All-American. That’s my goal.”

In addition to Gurrieri, epeeists Michael Pearce ’09 and John Beski ’07 also qualified for the NCAAs. Pearce, who finished fourth at last year’s championship, added a 21st place finish to his series of accolades, including Academic All-Ivy and Second Team All-Ivy distinctions. Beski rounded out the squad with a 23rd place finish.

The NCAA Championships marked the end of one of the most successful fencing seasons in recent history. The men posted a .500 record and the women beat Princeton — two accomplishments that had eluded the Bulldogs for the past five years. The Elis’ achievements this year, when combined with expected improvements to an already stellar freshman class, give the team plenty of hope heading into next season.

“It was a really fun season,” Gurrieri said. “I think we’re going to do better next year than we did this year — we’ll have a winning record.”

—Karan Arakotaram

Donaldson ’08 takes 3,000-meter title at ECAC Championships

During the month of March, the men’s and women’s track teams transitioned from inside to out and got a look at their strengths entering the spring 2007 season.

At the women’s indoor ECAC Championship, Claudia Duncan ’10 qualified for the 500-meter dash finals with a school-record time of 1:15.12. The following day, she improved on her own mark, clocking in at 1:14.32 for a sixth-place finish.

Lindsay Donaldson ’08 won the 3,000-meter run for the second consecutive year with a time of 9:22.01 and the 4×400-meter relay team placed eighth to round out the Elis’ 14-point, 21st-place finish.

Following the conclusion of the indoor season, both the men’s and women’s teams headed west for the UC Irvine Collegiate Classic. Donaldson and Katrina Castille ’07 were the women’s team’s only two first-place finishers, taking home wins in the 1500-meter run and the 100-meter dash, respectively.

For the men, captain John Langhauser ’07 nabbed first in the shot put and fifth in the discus throw. The 4×100-meter relay team finished in 41.09 for the Elis’ only other first-place finish.

Despite several impressive individual performances, nothing showcased the Elis’ depth more than the 1500-meter run, in which Jared Bell ’09, Brian Gertzen ’07 and Tadhq O’Callaghan ’08 finished in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Injuries stymie gymnastics at Penn State meet over spring break

The Bulldogs saw plenty of the highways and byways of the Mid Atlantic during a spring break swing that took the squad to Towson, Md., Morgantown, W.V., and State College, Penn. The gymnastics team, which put the finishing touches on a perfect home season the week before vacation, performed admirably at Towson before hitting a few rough bumps in the final two meets prior to the ECAC Championships.

The team wasted little time after classes got out on March 9 to get down to Maryland for a tri-meet against Towson and Rutgers. The Friday afternoon affair had Yale matching up against Rutgers for the second of three times this season — the ladies from the Garden State got the best of the Bulldogs at a quad meet in New Brunswick on Feb. 3. This time around, an energized Eli squad posted the best team score of the season (191.775), with Alina Liao ’09 (38.525 points, third place) and Brigitte Kivisto ’10 (38.3, fifth place) leading the powerful charge, and eked past Rutgers by a 10th of a point to clinch second place.

An early injury hurt the Bulldogs right out of the gate in a quad meet at West Virginia the following Saturday. Still, the squad managed to rack up a few individual accolades, including Laura Lombardi ’08 nabbing a career-high 9.75 on the bars. But when the dust cleared, the 186.925 score was not enough to get Yale out of the basement.

Injuries still haunted the Elis at No. 13 Penn State on Saturday, where the host Nittany Lions dominated visiting New Hampshire, Rutgers and Yale. In an otherwise disappointing fourth-place team finish, Liao provided the highlight of the day with a stellar 9.8 on beam, tying for second place.

Yale heads to Cornell this weekend for the ECAC Championships.