Yasmine Halmane, Photographer Editor

Both the Yale men’s and women’s fencing teams kicked off their seasons with a strong showing at Penn State Garret Open last weekend. 

The women’s team secured six top-five finishes, with at least one in each of the three weapons. On the other hand, six members of the men’s squad finished in the top ten. Sydney Hirsch ’24 was the best finisher for the women’s team with second place in saber while Vinni Yu ’26 earned the men’s squad’s best result with fifth place in foil. 

The women’s team filled three of the top five spots in foil. The meet took place over two days, with the women’s team competing on Saturday and the men’s team competing on Sunday. 

“The meet went really well — it definitely showed that we were prepared and ready through our preseason and in season training leading up to the meet,” Stephanie Cao ’25 wrote to the News. “It was really great seeing everyone so supportive, mens and womens team, and cheering and helping each other, and now we definitely know what to work on and improve on before our next meet.”

Foil fencer Erica Hooshi ’25 underlined the effort the team has been putting in throughout the lead-up to the season, both individually and together. She added that she was confident in their ability to improve from last season when they finished ninth at the NCAA Championship.

Although hosts Penn State swept the first positions for all weapons in the women’s competition, the Bulldogs followed closely behind by joining them on the podium in each event. 

Along with Hirsch, Linda Liu ’23 secured third place in epee, while Emme Zhou ’23 and Helen Tan ’25 shared third in foil. Olivia Ren ’26 missed the podium but followed her two squadmates in fifth place.

“I’m really thrilled about this result — I think it was a great way to enter the season and a great start for establishing a competition mentality for our meets to come,” wrote Hirsch to the News. “Preseason training definitely paid off! I felt physically strong coming into this meet and I felt as if the team was already really tight-knit and supporting each other, which is invaluable.”

The epee fencers on the men’s team  secured three spots in the top ten of the event. Ted Vinnitchouk ’24 and Tony Whelan ’26 finished neck and neck in seventh and eighth place respectively, while Sartaj Rajpal ’25 rounded out the Bulldogs’ excellent display with tenth place.  

In men’s foil, Allan Ding ’24 closely followed top finisher Yu with a sixth place finish. Men’s team captain Victor Osoliniec ’24 finished tenth in saber.

“It was a pre-season meet so the team had an opportunity to see if what they have been working on … was working and what they had to improve on,” said Vinnitchouk. “This is the first real season since the pandemic so everybody is excited to pick up where they left off in 2020.”

Members from both the men’s and women’s fencing teams emphasized the camaraderie on display between the two teams over the weekend.

Hooshi explained that although only the women’s teams competed on Saturday, the men’s team showed up to cheer for them at 7:30 a.m. The women’s team returned the gesture on Sunday when the men’s competition took place.

“We’re definitely very tightly knit — everyone is friends with everyone,” said Rajpal. “We always support each other, whether that be at practice or at meets … The team is coming together really nicely.”

The Bulldogs begin their competitive season on Dec. 4 at the Brandeis Invitational.