Courtesy of Yale Athletics

The men’s and women’s fencing teams slashed and stabbed their way to victory at the Brandeis Invitational on Sunday. Though the Elis faced fierce competition, the women went undefeated, while the men emerged victorious against four of their five challengers.

“All of our fencers exceeded expectations and fenced stronger than I’ve ever seen them fence before,” women’s captain Sarah Pak ’19 said. “I’m excited to build off of this last tournament and keep working to perform even better at the next.”

Held in Waltham, Massachusetts, the Brandeis Invitational represented the Elis’ first NCAA qualifying event of their fencing season. Last month, the Bulldogs competed at the Penn State Garret Open — a meet that ranked individuals instead of teams — and placed admirably. Some Elis battled their way into the top 10 out of about 60 athletes in each category: epee, saber and foil. At Brandeis, the Bulldogs’ record only improved.

The women’s team swept the competition with five victories across the board, defeating schools like MIT, North Carolina and St. John’s despite unforeseen circumstances prior to the event. According to Pak, the saber team’s starting status was particularly dicey on Sunday because two starters and every substitute were unable to participate. The entire foil squad also went without substitutes.

Despite these disadvantages, the women proceeded to dominate, with Shirley Wang ’22 ending the first round undefeated in epee while Lauren Kim ’21 and Anna Zhou ’20 followed suit without any losses in saber and foil, respectively. The women’s sweep of the invitational mirrored last year’s performance when they also defeated all five of the opposing schools.

The men faced stiff competition but in the end, they managed to overwhelm No. 8 St. John’s and other talented opposition such as Boston College. Though the Bulldogs faltered against UNC, their loss was narrow with the margin of victory amounting to just a few points. Foil squad captain Cameron Allen ’21 and saberist Walter Musgrave ’19 finished the day with 10–2 records, while the Yale epeeists successfully won every bout in the second round.

“Even though we are disappointed about the loss to UNC, we had a strong overall opening to the team season,” men’s captain and eppeist Isaac Shelanski ’20 said. “What is most exciting to me is that we didn’t fence anywhere near as well as we could have and still did well. I can’t wait to see what we can do when we’re at our best.”

The Elis improved on last year’s performance at Brandeis, defeating St. John’s by one point after losing to the Red Storm by nine points in 2017. Yale also widened its gap against MIT, defeating the Engineers by 13 points after a nine-point victory in last year’s invitational.

The Bulldogs put up a fight against the Tar Heels, though their efforts were met with disappointment when only the saber squad managed to come out on top. Against UNC, the epeeists and foilists ended with records of 2–7 and 3–6, respectively.

“This being my first real NCAA meet, my first couple of bouts weren’t that hot, but I was able to turn it around against St. John’s and Brandeis,” saberist Kevin Callahan ’22 said. “Although I lost against some fencers I know I could have beaten, I am very optimistic for the rest of the season and cannot wait for our next tournament at Penn State.”

The Elis will next compete on Jan. 13 at the Penn State Invitational.

Valerie Pavilonis |