Lukas Flippo, Senior Photographer

The Yale men’s and women’s fencing squads will compete in their first team-based competition of the season this weekend at the Brandeis Invitational.

The teams will travel to Waltham, Massachusetts where both the men’s and women’s squads will compete on Sunday, Dec. 5. Facing six other schools, this event will be the first time that the Bulldogs have competed against Cornell and Brown in two years. While the Bulldogs participated in the Garret Open in November, the Brandeis Invitational will be their first team-based competition of the season.

“This Brandeis competition is going to be the first correctional meet from the first competition,” interim head coach Marat Israelian said after the Garret Open. “You’re coming in completely kind of like dry from the offseason, from the summer and you work on everything. Then you go for the first competition and you don’t know what’s successful or not. [The Garret Open] is the first competition that we have a direction of what you need to improve and get better and hopefully, we’re going to see that in Brandeis and that will make us more successful.”

At the Garret Open on Nov. 5 and 6, four Bulldogs clinched top-ten finishes across women’s epee, women’s foil and men’s saber. Fencers competed in individual competitions consisting of round-robin play and direct elimination rounds as opposed to the team-based format that the Brandeis Invitational and most of the Bulldogs’ future events will consist of. 

In gearing up for the Brandeis Invitational, fencers across both teams have been working on skills such as stamina and aggression. In the last iteration of the Massachusetts competition in 2019, the men’s team finished with a 3–1 record winning against Boston College, MIT and host Brandeis. Returning players for the men’s team will include Earnest Chen ’22, Safi Haider ’22, Daniel Li ’22, Jonah Cho ’24, Maxwell Yee ’23, Allan Ding ’24 and captain Nicolas Del Vecchio ’22. 

At the same tournament, the women’s fencing team also finished with a 3–1 record winning against the same colleges. Returning players include Emme Zhou ’23, Sophia Zhuang ’23, Sydney Hirsch ’24, Linda Liu ’23, Julia Balch ’23 and Joy Ma ’22.

“I am excited [for the Brandeis Invitational],” Christina Zozulya ’24 said. “I was very anxious about it, but knowing I can lean back into the team and that everyone is in the same situation lets me really focus on being the best fencer I can be. I’m feeling excited and good.”

The Brandeis Invitational will be the Bulldogs’ last competition of the calendar year, but the teams will participate in a training camp in early January in preparation for upcoming tournaments. These competitions include the Penn State Invitational during the weekend of Jan. 8, the Philadelphia Invitational during the weekend of Jan. 22, the Ivy League Round Robin tournament during the weekend of Feb. 12 and NCAA championship competitions beginning the weekend of March 12. 

The Ivy League Round Robin Tournament will determine the Ancient Eight championship rankings. Yale’s women’s team won the inaugural competition in 1982 and has been the Ivy League champion five times since the competition’s inception. The men’s squad has earned three championships since 1956. 

“The event that mostly everyone looks forward to is definitely Ivies,” Charlson Kim ’24 said. “For me, I am excited to see some of my friends from high school who went to other Ivy League universities for fencing. There also is more of a natural rivalry with schools such as Harvard and Columbia which makes the competitive atmosphere more fun.”

The men’s fencing team will not face Cornell this weekend as the Ithaca college lacks a men’s fencing team. 

Hamera Shabbir covers golf and fencing for the Sports desk and the School of the Environment for the Science and Technology desk. Originally from California's Central Valley, she is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in Environmental Studies.