Tag Archive: Fencing

  1. FENCING | Fencers take 12th place

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    The fencing team grabbed the 12th spot in the NCAA Championships after going through a tough four-day tournament, with three fencers being named All-Americans.

    Foilist and captain Shiv Kachru ’12, epeeist Peter Cohen ’14, saberist Nathaniel Benzimra ’13, as well as foilist Lauren Miller ’15 from the women’s team traveled to Ohio and earned a total of 50 points, repeating the rank they earned last season.

    Miller’s seventh-place individual finish made her an All-American in her first NCAA championship.

    “I never would have believed I could be an All-American fencer my freshman year,” Miller said.

    She won 15 of her 23 matches, including contess against fencers from this year’s champion Ohio State and archrival Harvard in her fourth and thirteenth match, respectively.

    “I have known most of the fencers that I faced since high school, and it was interesting to see how they have adapted to college fencing,” Miller added.

    With a percentage of 0.652, she contributed 15 points to the Bulldogs’ side despite having to play with an injury she incurred several weeks ago. She had to skip the United States Collegiate Squad Championships last month and focused on qualifying for the NCAA championships by taking ninth place in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship on March 11.

    Whereas members of the women’s team in two different weapons qualified for last year’s championship, nly women’s foil represented the Elis this year, taking thirteenth place overall thanks to Miller’s efforts.

    However, the men’s team had all three weapons competing. Kachru and Benzimra each took the All-American honor for their weapons.

    As the grand finale of his college fencing career, Kachru posted the team’s highest finish, seventh place, and contributed significantly to the Bulldogs’ final standing. He started off strong on the first day with five consecutive wins, leaving him in fourth place. But he allowed himself to slip three places on Sunday with 14 victories overall and a 0.609 in percentage.

    “Since it was my last match, I was more relaxed and wanted more fun,” Kachru said. “I was disappointed with my second day’s result, but I am happy with what turned out,” he said.

    Considering the fact that he finished in the twenty-first spot last season, he had every reason to be satisfied with the results.

    This year’s Second-Team All Ivy Cohen slipped 14 notches from last year’s third place finish with nine wins and a 0.391 percentage. Although he struggled on the first day, he rebounded on the second day, finishing in seventeenth place.

    “The second day was a chance for me to improve after a tough time on the first day, which I was just not fencing well,” Cohen said. “In the end, I did not do as well as I would have liked but was happy with the way that I bounced back from my poor result on the first day,” Cohen said.

    In saber, Benzimra qualified for the first time in the NCAA after taking fifth place at the Northeast Regional Championship. He took twelfth place in the tournament.

    The host Ohio State ended up winning the championship, trailed by Princeton with a 21-point gap.

    Kachru said the Tigers invest hugely in their fencing program.

    “They have three coaches, one in each weapon,” Kachru said. “It is always a draw for stronger fencers to be recruited since it [Princeton] already has many strong fencers, which keep the ball rolling,” he added.

    The Elis have now officially completed their winter season.

    Kachru said it was a good season despite the team’s falling short in achieving its goal of the Ivy title. He added he is very satisfied with how young fencers like foilist Sam Broughton ’15 and Cohen are stepping up.

    Miller said many of the fencers will continue training consistently at their respective clubs during the summer.

  2. Fencing teams take eighth place

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    Plagued by injuries, the men’s and women’s fencing teams had to settle for eighth place at the United States Collegiate Squad Championships on Sunday.

    Although members of the men’s team said the championships, hosted at New York University, are typically treated as a “pre-match” for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, the team was nevertheless disappointed by its failure to win any medals. The women’s team earned 72 points in competition, while the men’s team won 77 points.

    The women’s team made it to the round of eight in épée. In the first round, women’s épée faced Brown for the second time this season and proceeded to the next round after defeating the Bears with a 45–38 score.

    “I was really happy to beat Brown [in épée] again in the first meet,” captain Robyn Shaffer ’13 said.

    However, in the next round, the Elis lost 45–28 against St. John’s, the team that eventually went on to take third place overall. In foil, the Bulldogs fell to Brown by a score of 45–22. One of the key foilists, Lauren Miller ’15, has not recovered from her injury, which played a big role in the poor results: Épéeist Maryne Dijkstra ’15 had to step in for Miller. In saber, the team took on North Carolina but lost 45–25, with standout saberist Madeline Oliver ’13 not competing in the match. Overall, épée ended in eighth, foil in ninth and saber in 13th place overall.

    “We focused on enjoying today’s match and our team really did,” Shaffer said. “It prepared us for the upcoming NCAA Northeast Regional in two weeks.”

    As last year’s defending champions, the men’s team also could not grab a single medal and failed to defend its title on Sunday.

    “Today’s match was not the best,” foilist and team manager Jose Martinez ’12 said. “We did not perform up to my expectations of the team, but that said we were fencing very short-handed.”

    Last season’s silver medal-winning épée and foil squads both fell to the Tar Heels in the first round by a score of 38–45 and 45–41, respectively. Although the saber squad also failed to win back the bronze medal, it went on to the second round after defeating local rival No. 9 Sacred Heart, 45–37.

    Men’s team captain Shiv Kachru ’12 said that the tournament was tougher this year, as more teams competed at a higher level. Although head coach Henry Harutunian had said in an interview before the championship that his saber squad was somewhat weaker than other weapons in the Ivies, last weekend it was the Bulldogs’ best weapon. However, the Elis faced the Lions in the second round and lost 45–37, failing both to revenge their loss in the Ivies two weeks ago and to proceed to the semi-finals in the tournament. The men’s saber squad ended in the seventh spot, foil in ninth and épée in 10th.

    “We had a pretty bare-bones squad because of injuries and illness, so a mixture of starters and alternates fenced,” Martinez said.

    The Elis now have two major competitions awaiting them: the NCAA Northeast Regional and the National Championship.

    “I want more fencers from my team to qualify,” Kachru said. “Last year we had three [including myself] qualify in foil and épée. I wish the saber does better so that we can get the number up.”

    Since the team’s major matches of the season are during and shortly after spring break, members of the team said that those who do not have active clubs in their hometowns or live too far away to make travel worth the trip will stay in New Haven to practice. Other fencers will also make good use of their time by visiting their original clubs, fencing some different opponents and working with their old coaches.

    The Elis will compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional on March 11.

  3. M. FENCING | All-Ivy Honoree talks fencing


    Last weekend, the men’s fencing team took fifth place in the Ivy League Championships at Coxe Cage. Despite their disappointing finish, two of the Bulldog fencers earned the All-Ivy Honors, foilist James Broughton ’15 and epeeist Peter Cohen ’14. Now with the NCAA National Championship looming ahead next month, the News sat down with Cohen. Hailing from Irvington, N.Y., last season’s All-American talked about the state of Eli fencing, his fencing career and the team’s prospects for the future.

    Q First of all, congratulations on earning All-Ivy Honors. How do you feel about earning this award? How do you think you got this?

    A I’m very happy. It shows recognition of my hard work. It shows that I am dedicated to the team. We didn’t end up winning all the matches, but I still contributed.

    Q How is the atmosphere on the team right now? How are the practices faring? I heard the team got the Monday off.

    A The result was not ideal, but people are working really hard.

    Q Going back to the Ivies. What do you think caused the fifth-place finish?

    A We first had Brown. They are not one of the strongest [teams], but we did well against them. Then it was Harvard. We played really hard but lost. And then we found out that Princeton won. We had a chance if we beat Princeton. We had a lot of energy going into the next day, but we lost. There wasn’t any specific thing that we couldn’t execute. We wanted to finish with a positive record. I believe nobody was in the right mindset. The loss against Columbia was again about broken mentality.

    Q Is there anything that could be done specifically to improve in epee?

    A The team hasn’t changed much from last year. Basically it is all about mentality, and we just have to work on that.

    Q Did many people show up to support you? Parents? Suitemates like Adam Fields ’12?

    A Two of my suitemates, my parents, sister and my high school coach were there.

    Q How is your relationship with the coach, Henry Harutunian? He seems to regard you highly.

    A He is such a legend. He is really interesting. He takes fencing into a lifestyle, more than just a sport. He matured me as a person. I really appreciate that. He is also really wise so I can learn a lot from him.

    Q Tell me about your high school fencing days. Did it help in any way in preparing you to become a better fencer at Yale? Did you also happen to have what people call a “fencing notebook,” a record book of your fencing scores in your teenage years?

    A I fenced on my high school [Hackley] team in New York. It wasn’t intense, but I fenced at the international level. I won a silver medal on Team USA in Maccabiah. That prepared for my level of fencing here. But the best thing about here is I have team that supports me.

    Q How did fencing influence your life?

    A I have learned to lose like a gentleman and sportsmanship. I also learned determination and time management skills. My results influence the team, in the sense people rely on me, so I have to make sure I “produce and produce.” This is something the coach always emphasizes.

    Q Is there any special diet that you follow? Do you, or rather, can you drink coffee?

    A I don’t drink coffee. I don’t have a special diet. I am just tall and lean. I pretty much eat anything at the dining hall. On match days, I have bananas and Gatorade mixed with water.

    Q It seems that fencing requires a high level of concentration. How do you work on this?

    A Basically we have to compete more and practice more. We do situational bouting, where you are put in a high pressure situation.

    Q Can you give us some of your insights on the fencing team’s walk-in system? Do you think more spots are needed for recruits?

    A I think more spots can’t hurt us. Traditionally, other teams with many recruits are better, but we have been fighting so well. Next year we need more recruits in foil since the current foilists are all graduating.

    Q One of the team’s biggest prides is holding the highest average GPA standing among all the varsity teams. What made this possible? Did the coach’s philosophy of putting priority on academics have anything to do with it?

    A He understands that we are students. Our priority is to win, but also he knows that we go to Yale. He believes in being well-rounded.

    Q One of the team’s symbols, the Little Iron Man, is displayed on the second floor of Payne Whitney Gym. Can you tell us any interesting stories behind it?

    A It’s the oldest trophy in the collegiate sports. It comes from IFAs ([Intercollegiate Fencing Association] that we won a couple years ago, and that is why we are still keeping it. It was for the best foil squad.

    Q What else do you do on campus, besides fencing?

    A SigEp and [Yale Entrepreneurial] Society.

    Q What is the team’s goal for the NCAA National Championships and, going further, the rest of the year?

    A Last year, I earned 15 out of 24 points for Yale, and our team earned 40 points in total, which put the team in 10th. I was in third place. I definitely want to qualify and hope to make to All-Americans like last year and show some improvement.

  4. FENCING | Mixed results for Elis at Ivies

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    At the Yale-hosted Ivy League Championship this weekend, the women’s fencing team showed vast improvement over last year’s championship by taking fifth place and defeating Brown and Cornell.

    The No. 10 men’s team, which took second place last year, struggled this weekend and slipped to fifth place. The women’s team overall had a 2–4 record for the weekend and the men’s team went 1–4. Foilist James Broughton ’15 and epeeist Peter Cohen ’14 won second team All-Ivy honors for their strong performances.

    On the first day, the women’s team took on Brown, Harvard and Cornell, and ended the day with a 2–1 record. Against Brown, the Bulldogs narrowly escaped defeat with a score of 14–13. Foil and epee prevailed with a 6–3 win, whereas saber endured a 2–7 loss.

    “Brown was a strong team to fence, but I am happy that we especially showed strength in foil,” said foilist Jillian Liu ’12. However, in the next round, the Bulldogs had to swallow a crushing 21–6 defeat against the Crimson (foil 6–3, epee 7–2 and saber 8–1). In the last match of the day, the team rebounded by smashing Cornell 16–11 (foil and epee 6–3, and saber 4–5).

    On the other side of Coxe Cage, the men’s team fenced against Brown and Harvard and took one win and one loss, putting them in third on the first day. The men opened their first match against Brown and won big, posting a 17–10 win. All three weapons scored wins: saber 5–4, epee and foil both 6–3.

    “Brown was decent, and it is definitely a good start for us,” said saberist Nathaniel Benzimra ’13. “We played really well overall.”

    Unfortunately, the goddess of victory did not smile upon the Elis in a clash against the No.3 Crimson. “The Game” of the Ivies drew approximately 40 Yale supporters, including the suitemates of saberist Adam Fields ’12, many of whom showed up for the contest with blue Y’s painted on their bodies.

    The team dominated in epee with a score of 6–3 but showed ineffectiveness in foil and saber, losing 4–5 and 2-7, respectively, en route to a 15–12 loss overall.

    On the second day of the championship, both teams faced Princeton, Penn and Columbia but failed to come up with a single win. The women’s side gave in to the Tigers 25-2, Quakers 20-7, and Lions 22-5.

    Despite these losses, team captain Robyn Shaffer ’13 said she was satisfied with her team’s performance.

    “We are really proud of our results this year,” she said. “We set our goal for the weekend to beat Cornell and Brown, and we accomplished that goal. It is an improvement from last year, so we can tangibly see that we’ve made progress, which is a great feeling.” Shaffer added that fencing is as much a mental sport as a physical one, and after a loss it is best to “put aside negative thoughts and start preparing for the next bout.”

    Head coach Henry Harutunian said the team put dignity in the games and it was quite impressive for the women to beat Brown and Cornell, which are heavily composed of recruits, whereas the Elis have only two foilist recruits: Lauren Miller’15 and Katharine Pitt’12.

    The men’s side lost 18-9 against No.2 Princeton although it secured a 6-3 victory in foil. The team also submitted to No.7 Penn 16-11, but the Bulldogs did defeat the Quakers in foil 5-4. In the last match against the Lions, the men lost 18-9 despite taking epee with a 5-4 victory.

    “We are actually disappointed at our result, but the team tried its best,” said the men’s team manager Jose Martinez ’12.

    Martinez said he was particularly proud of Broughton because he is a freshman who performed well in a high-pressure situation.

    The Elis will compete in the United States Collegiate Squad Championships on Feb. 26 at NYU in New York.

  5. FENCING | Elis defeat Vassar and Drew

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    On Saturday, both the men and women’s fencing squads dominated Vassar College and Drew University at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

    The No. 10 men’s team (8–4) defeated Vassar 21–6 and Drew 24–3, while the women’s team (6–7) beat the Brewers 19–8 and obliterated Drew with a 26–1 win. The teams show promise going into the Ivy League Championships — the first time the teams will face Ancient Eight opponents this season — at home at the Coxe Cage next weekend. The men’s team is currently ranked fourth in the Ivy League, and the women’s team is ranked in eighth place.

    “The matches against Vassar and Drew were a great tune-up for the Ivy League Championships,” team manager and foilist Jose Martinez ’12 said. “We were expecting to do well, but we kept up the pressure all day. They might not have the talent to match some schools in the Ivy League, but they are building strong programs and are doing better every year.”

    Despite subjugating the two rivals, Martinez said, the team feels like it has a ways to go if it is to take the Ivy title.

    He added that the entire season’s training is designed with only the Ivies in mind, and the team is combining a heavy practice schedule with scoutings of other Ivy teams.

    “This will by far be our toughest test of the year, although we have fenced some of the best schools in the nation already,” Martinez said. “Regardless though, we are fencing at home, and if another team wants to take the championship from us, they know that road has to go through Yale fencing.”

    Whereas the men’s team exchanged some wins and losses in the previous week’s matches, the Elis dominated this week’s lineups and won in all weapons except épée against Vassar. In the match against Vassar, foil went 9-0, épée 4-5 and saber 8-1. Against Drew, foil, épée and saber all finished 8-1.

    While every player contributed to the wins, Martinez singled out Canadian foilist Sam Broughton ’15 as the man of the match.

    “[Broughton] won all 5 of the matches he fenced this season and put on an amazing display of skill and determination,” Martinez said.

    In the women’s team, foil went 6–3, épée 7–2 and saber 6–3 against Vassar. Against the Rangers, épée went 8-1, saber 9-0 and foil 9-0.

    “Our victories over Vassar and Drew were definitely team victories,” team captain Robyn Shaffer ’13 said. “In previous matches, one squad had faltered while the other two performed well; this weekend, all three squads were competing strongly.”

    Shaffer said Brenda Seah ’14 and Rachel Hayes ’15, both on the saber squad, especially shined as non-starters.

    She added that the team is looking to the Ivies next weekend and will compete in a round robin against the other seven of the Ancient Eight.

    “It’s a very tough tournament, so we are aiming to fence well while keeping a positive attitude. Coming off this weekend’s strong performance, we are hoping to improve over last year’s results,” Shaffer said.

    The Elis will be competing in the Ivy Championship from Feb. 11 to 12 at the Coxe Cage.

    Correction: Feb. 8

    An earlier version of this article misreported the score for the women’s fencing team’s match against Drew University. The score was 26–1, not 21–6.

  6. FENCING | Bulldogs take up arms


    While Yale fencing head coach Henry Harutunian has coached the men’s and women’s squads for 41 years, his greatest desire for this season is to maintain the teams’ three-year standing as the varsity teams with the highest average grade point averages.

    Fencing does not have a large group of followers nationally or within the Yale community, and Yale Athletics does not heavily fund the program. Even as an athletic coach long devoted to his sport, Harutunian often prioritizes his players’ academic endeavors over their athletic commitments, women’s team captain Robyn Shaffer ’12 said. But the team’s academic priorities have not stopped the Bulldogs from achieving distinction in this oft-ignored yet historic sport.

    This season, Yale has its eyes on the Ivy championships. The No. 10 men’s team is especially eager not to repeat last year’s disappointing Ivy finish, in which the Elis lost the title to Harvard by only one point in the final 20 seconds of the season.

    “If we keep up the good teamwork, we definitely have the potential for a successful season,” Peter Cohen ’14, an All-American épéeist last season, said.

    While students generally know that Yale has a fencing team, three team members said they feel Yalies rarely follow the varsity sport. Cohen said he thinks the main reason fencing is not dominant in campus converstaion is that the rules are so confusing.

    “People just say it is cool, but they do not seem to be clear about what is going on exactly,” Cohen said.

    Yale fencing dates back to 1894 and began making waves in the 1920s. On the seventh floor of the Payne Whitney Gym, where the Eli fencers practice from 4 to 6 p.m. on a daily basis, the walls are plastered with 70 years of photos of Yale fencing.

    Unlike other sports, the men’s and women’s squads are meshed into one and practice together, which Cohen said helps foster overall team dynamics. Both teams travel together, and upperclassmen on each team go out of their way to help younger members, team members said.

    “Being on the team, there was no need for me to rush for sorority since all the teammates are like my sisters,” Shaffer said.

    One of the most unique features of Yale fencing is the recruitment process itself. Unlike sports such as football, swimming and track, which recruit heavily throughout the season, fencing relies heavily on walk-ons in the fall. Each team typically has only two recruits come to Yale each year. Harutunian said in an email that most of the fencers who walk onto the team have some experience fencing but not on a “competitive level,” and some are even new to the sport.

    “[The walk-on system] is unique to Yale in the Ivy League,” Harutunian added. “The inherent learning process for both individual fencers and the team as a whole may not bring too many victories, but in the long run, we are establishing something that students can take into their later lives.”

    Players interviewed differed in their reasons to start fencing and join the team at Yale.

    Cohen said fencers have “a lot of weird stories” about how they got into fencing. He was introduced to the sport in eighth grade, when his sister, who was attending Yale at the time, brought a fencer friend, Michael Pearce ’10, home for dinner.

    “Recently, I beat [Pearce] in an alumni match, which I thought was funny,” Cohen said.

    In fencing, there is no overwhelming popularity for a specific weapon. Instead, body features and starting age usually help a player decide what weapon to fence with. For tall, lean players like Cohen, épée is the most suitable weapon, as height allows épéeists to hit when a shorter opponent cannot strike back. Unlike foil and sabre fencers, épéeists can land touches on any part of the body, so long arms allow them to gain points while staying at a distance.

    Fencers who start early tend to take up foil, as they will have more time to hone their skills at this most-competitive weapon.

    Regardless of their weapons or the skills they come in with, Yale fencers hone their abilities with the help of a coach who is considered the essence of Yale fencing, both Shaffer and men’s captain Shiv Kachru ’12said.

    “Although there are famous figures like Sada Jacobson ’06 who won three medals in the Olympics, Harutunian is the true inspiration of our entire team,” Kachru said.

    Sparse funding for this lesser-known sport is one issue with which the coach continues to grapple. Since 1970, he has made a continuous effort to keep the team’s budget rational and economical.

    “We never want to go overboard, but at the same time we want to be capable of staying at a competitive level,” Harutunian said.

    In addition to strong leadership from the coach, the fencing captains are also an important asset to the team’s success. At the end of each season, captains — who are responsible for arranging practices, coordinating with the coach and working with the team manager — are elected by vote at a team banquet. According to men’s captain Kachru, the most successful candidates are experienced players with strong results. Developing connections with all the players and ensuring none takes disappointing games to heart are key criteria for a captain, he added.

    The Elis are hoping strong leadership and training will help them take the Ivy title this season.

    Last weekend, the No. 10 men’s team had to swallow a close loss to No. 9 Sacred Heart, at home.

    Both teams will compete against Vassar this Saturday in Payne Whitney Gym at 1 p.m.

  7. FENCING | Cohen ’14 places third at fencing nationals

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    When Peter Cohen ’14 was in high school, he honed his épée skills with St. John’s University junior Marat Israelian for two years under the same coach. On Friday at Ohio State University, Israelian crushed Cohen’s hopes of reaching the gold-medal match at the NCAA National Championships.

    “It started out neck and neck, 4–3, and then he started pulling away — he just edged me out,” Cohen said. He fell 15-4 to Israelian — who went on the win the tournament — and tied for third on his way to making the All-American team.

    Cohen’s result was the highlight of Yale’s performance at nationals over the weekend, where the three-person men’s squad finished 11th overall and the two competing women, captain Madeline Oliver ’13 and Tasha Garcia ’11, took 20th and 21st place in their weapons classes, respectively. Nathaniel Botwinick ’11 joined Cohen as an All-American with his sixth-place finish in the foil competition, while Shiv Kachru ’12 finished 21st in the same weapon class.

    “We had three guys that performed unbelievably, they put in everything they had,” said head coach Henry Harutunian. “The girls also held themselves up high in an unbelievably tough competition.”

    The team’s two departing seniors, Botwinick and Garcia, especially deserved praise for their sustained contribution, Harutunian said, adding that he was proud of both teams’ seasons.

    Still, team members acknowledged there was room for improvement at the competition.

    “I went in with the right mentality but I had a couple of bad calls and bad matches early on,” said Kachru, who took second place at the March 13 Northeast Regional. “But that’s part of fencing and I wasn’t able to get my mentality back in the rest of my matches.”

    Captain Jonathan Holbrook ’12 said the individual format of the competition, where team members do not fence on the same strip and hence cannot cheer on and coach each other, made it difficult for Yale’s team, which fences in a team format during the regular season.

    For Garcia, who joined the team as a walk-on in her freshman year, the competition was a grueling conclusion to her college-fencing career.

    “It was especially intimidating because unlike our regular team meets, there were no bouts where I felt I had a really good chance of winning,” she said. “I had to put 100 percent of my effort into every touch.”

    Looking beyond the tough season the women’s team faced this year, Garcia said she felt her result reflected the positive training environment of Yale’s team, adding that she was excited to see the determination and dedication of the new walk-ons on the team.

    Oliver said that despite the commitment of fencers on her team, the lack of recruits meant that the team did not perform at a very high level overall throughout the season.

    “Next year, I’m hoping to have some recruits, the new fencers should be more experienced, and hopefully, we can just get into a groove and accomplish something,” she said.

    The men’s team meanwhile, made the jump from “a group of underdogs to consistent performers at the top level” this season, said Holbrook. He added his team would be a “force to be reckoned with from day one” next season.

    The men’s team lost to Harvard by a single touch in the final match of the Ivy League Championships, and also shared the United States Collegiate Squad Championships this season.

  8. FENCING | Five qualify for NCAA nationals

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    Five Yale fencers are headed to the NCAA national championships after a day of mixed results at the March 13 NCAA northeast regional at Vassar.

    Two weeks after winning the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships, the men’s fencing team saw three of its members qualify for NCAA nationals. Still, the result fell short of the maximum of six fencers that captain Jonathan Holbrook ’12 said he thought had a strong chance of qualifying. Two members of the women’s team also made it through to the national competition, ending the team’s season on a high note after disappointing showings at the Ivy League Championships and the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships.

    [ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”4630″ ]

    “It was a beautiful effort from everyone, and we’re very happy for those who qualified,” said head coach Henry Harutunian, who praised the season-long efforts of both the men’s and women’s teams.

    Among the men at the northeast regional, Shiv Kachru ’12 and Nathaniel Botwinick ’11 placed second and fifth in the foil competition, respectively. The two of them, along with Peter Cohen ’14, who placed 10th in épée, made it through to the national championships.

    This will not be the first time Botwinick fences at nationals. He qualified last year, ultimately finishing in sixth place and earning a spot on the All-American team.

    But Harutunian admitted the results were a “little disappointing” given the team’s strong performances throughout the season, adding that he had expected two épée, at least one sabre and two foil fencers to qualify. A maximum of two fencers per weapon per team can qualify for nationals under NCAA regulations.

    “Overall, this result is not up to the full potential for the team — we can do better as a team,” Holbrook said. “Our results as a team have been better than our results as individuals.”

    Last year, four male fencers, including Holbrook, qualified for the national championships. But because two other team members qualified in the foil competition along with Holbrook, he was unable to compete as part of the NCAA limit.

    It was a different story for the women’s team, which did better than expected at the regional tournament. The team celebrated the performances of captain Madeline Oliver ’13 and Tasha Garcia ’11 as they qualified for the national championships in sabre (eighth) and épée (ninth), respectively.

    “I cannot contain my enjoyment and happiness that Tasha made the NCAA [national championships] with all the hard work that she’s put in,” Harutunian said, adding that Garcia joined the team as a walk-on in her freshman year.

    Oliver, who qualified for nationals and placed 23rd in sabre last year, said she hoped her past experience would help her achieve success at this year’s competition.

    “Last year was very tough — it’s unlike any competition you’ve done before,” she said. “But with that experience under my belt, things should go well this year.”

    The national championships will be difficult for both the men and women, Harutunian predicted. He said schools like Notre Dame, Penn State and St. Johns, which award scholarships to heavily recruited students, would be particularly tough to beat.

    “They’re a completely different game,” he said. “But as long as my fencers do their best, I cannot ask more than that.”

    The NCAA national championships will take place this weekend at Ohio State University.

  9. FENCING | Men share Squad Championship

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    With its sabre, épée and foil teams each achieving a top-three finish, the men’s fencing team edged out most competition this past weekend at the United States Collegiate Squad Championship and tied for first place with Penn on Sunday. The women’s team, though, did not find similar success at the competition, with each of its weapons squads finishing in sixth or seventh place.

    The épée and foil teams led the charge for the men’s team, as both team placed second in their respective weapons competitions. Not far behind was the sabre team, which walked away from the championship with a third-place result.

    The team amassed an aggregate of 26 points across the three disciplines, the same score as Penn. The Quakers won the sabre title and came third in the foil and épée competitions.

    Head coach Henry Harutunian said the result confirmed the growing strength and momentum of the men’s team, which missed out on winning the Ivy League Championship by a single touch two weeks ago.

    “They’re unbelievable guys who hold themselves to the highest level — I don’t understand how they have so much energy,” he said. “All three weapons teams, they’re combining together very well, it’s amazing.”

    [ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”4711″ ]

    Harutunian said that the second and third place finishes indicated Yale was well within contention for further wins in future competitions.

    The épée team fell to Ohio State, 45–32, in the championship match, while the foil team was outmaneuvered by Notre Dame in its final, losing 45–33.

    Captain Jonathan Holbrook ’12 said that over the course of the season, his team had “gone from underdogs to champions.” The consistent and high-intensity fencing of the foil squad, of which he is a member, reflected its status as one of the strongest in the country, he added.

    Épée squad member Peter Cohen ’14 said the rally scoring system of the competition, in which team members fence to an overall goal rather than individual five-touch bouts, meant the result was reflective of the team’s efforts, not merely that of any individual fencer.

    Sabre squad captain Adam Fields ’12 agreed, noting his squad performed well despite coming up “just shy” of its goal of making the gold-medal playoff.

    Strong results across the board bode well for the NCAA Regional Qualifiers, Holbrook said, adding that the team stands a “strong chance” of qualifying the maximum of six fencers for the first time in many years. Last year three fencers, including Holbrook, qualified.

    But the women’s team will not go into the NCAA qualifiers with a similar level of momentum. Its épée and sabre squads finished sixth, while its foil squad placed seventh.

    “We are in a rebuilding phase right now,” captain Madeline Oliver ’13 said. “We have a lot of freshmen, and a lot of walk-ons, and they have been working really hard which I think is great encouragement for the other members of the team.”

    She explained that the sabre squad, for instance, has four walk-ons because the team did not get any sabre recruits this past year.

    Still, Oliver said she anticipates the team will have a better season next year as all the members of the team acquire more experience.

    “We’re working very hard to prepare them,” Harutunian said. “Many students come into college fencing with a good background — five to eight years experience — so it is very difficult if you are starting from scratch.”

    He said that “four or five” recruited women’s fencers had quit the team in the past year, adding that he did not wish to speak in more detail about the issue.

    Both the men’s and women’s teams will next compete at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships on March 13.

  10. FENCING | Mixed results for fencing at Ivy Championships

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    The title came down to just one touch.

    Heading into the final match of the Ivy League Championship tournament, Peter Cohen ’14 and Harvard freshman Mike Raynis were fighting for the title with their teams tied at 13 matches apiece. The two battled to a 4–4 tie in the final minute of the match. But with the seconds ticking down, Raynis flashed forward and landed a hit on Cohen to send the Crimson to its first Ivy League title since 2007.

    “I knew there was a lot of pressure going in,” Cohen said. “It was a really special situation. The entire team was counting on me.”

    The men’s team (11–5) had been unbeaten along with Harvard’s team through Sunday, until that loss to the Crimson (16–2), 14–13, while the women’s team (5–12) failed to post a win in the tournament.

    Coming off close matches with Princeton, 15–12, and Penn, 14–13, the men’s team held a 13–12 lead against Harvard before the last two jousts. But the Bulldogs could not uphold either, ceding the championship to the Crimson.

    Despite not coming away with the title, the Elis’ second place 4-1 round-robin result is a marked improvement over last year’s performance, in which the team finished 2–3.

    “A miracle happened,” head coach Henry Harutunian said of the result. “Everybody is holding themselves to their very best. It’s tremendous.”

    Three members of the male team made the All-Ivy team — Cornelius Saunders ‘14 in epée (13–2), Nathaniel Botwinick ‘11 in foil (11-4) and Nate Benzimra ‘13 in sabre (11–4).

    Harutunian said the team was “very healthy” and building on the upward trend on previous years.

    But it was a different story for the women’s team, sputtering after momentum-building wins against Sacred Heart, 18–6, and Vassar, 16–11, last weekend.

    A 14-13 loss to Harvard Sunday afternoon cemented the team’s disappointing weekend, which also included losses to Columbia, 21–6, Brown, 12–15, Penn, 9–18, and Cornell, 17–10.

    “We’ve been having a problem with the women’s team,” Harutunian said. “There are some people doing a beautiful job and upholding the dignity of the team, but it’s tough going.”

    He explained that because three students had recently quit the team and he had only two new recruited fencers this past year, he had been forced to take many walk-ons with little to no experience.

    Four members of the women’s sabre team graduated last year, Harutunian said, leaving only one experienced fencer among the walk-on heavy team.

    “How can you ask anything from them when they’re fencing people with four to seven years’ background, with good experience in intercollegiate fencing?” he said.

    Last year, the women’s team came away from the Ivy round-robin tournament with a 2–4 record.

    “We had some good bouts and a couple of good individual records, but we just couldn’t put it all together for a win against this tough competition,” said captain Madeline Oliver ‘13 in a press release. She performed the best of the women’s team with a 12–6 record.

    Both the women’s and the men’s teams will be competing at the Junior Olympics in Dallas, Texas from Friday to Monday.

  11. FENCING | Fencers gain momentum for Ivy tournament

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    Yale’s fencing program has had a strong three days. The women’s team (6–6) won both of its matches this week and the men’s squad (8–4) split two matches — losing to Sacred Heart (14–9) by one point on a day when Yale was missing two of its most experienced fencers. With the upcoming Ivy League round robin tournament, last weekend’s momentum will be especially important.

    On Saturday, the men’s fencing team suffered a surprising upset against Sacred Heart but was able to rebound two days later against Vassar (19–9).

    The men’s squad began their match against Sacred Heart missing two of their best players, both absent due to circumstances beyond the team’s control: Nathaniel Botwinick ’11, captain of the foil squad and a bronze medalist in the North American Cup, was in France competing in the World Championships; meanwhile, team captain Jon Holbrook ’12 was sidelined due to an illness.

    These absences hurt the Bulldogs as they suffered a frustrating 14–13 defeat to the Pioneers.

    “They did not fence like themselves today,” admitted coach Henry Harutunian.

    But the team did not say that the absence of Botwinick and Holbrook was to blame for the Bulldogs’ performance.

    “We underestimated [Sacred Heart],” explained Peter Cohen ’14. “In years past we’ve beaten them every year.”

    Still, the team was able to bounce back two days later against Vassar College, handily defeating the Brewers by a score of 21–6.

    “We made some mistakes [against Sacred Heart] but we learned from them,” Alex Cohen ’12 said.

    Indeed, all squads showed a resounding comeback, with epee and saber winning 6–3 and foil winning 7–2. With this recent victory in mind, the team has set its sights on the upcoming Ivy League round robin tournament.

    “We’re back on track to win Ivies,” Peter Cohen said. “I think we’re back to where we should be now.”

    Over the past three days, the Yale women’s fencing team built up sizable momentum for the upcoming Ivy League round robin at Princeton.

    On Saturday, the Bulldogs dominated the Sacred Heart Pioneers (6–18) by a score of 19–8, winning foil and saber 6–3 and winning epee 7–2. The match occurred in front of a large home crowd at the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

    In a press release, captain Maddie Oliver ’13 talked about her team’s successful match.

    “I’m really proud of the way the women’s team stepped up today,” she said. “We took control and pulled out a good victory. Our freshmen fenced particularly really well today.”

    Besides a strong freshman performance, several upperclassmen had outstanding performances against the Pioneers. Four fencers — Oliver, Robyn Shaffer ’13, Lidia Gocheva ’11 and Katharine Pitt ’12 — achieved perfect 3–0 records for the day. The entire epee squad also enjoyed a winning record for the day.

    The match on Saturday was supposed to be a dual-meet, but Drew University had to withdraw due to weather.

    Two days later, the Bulldogs faced off against Vassar College, again winning on their home turf.

    The match against the Brewers was a bit more contested, but the Bulldogs were able to win 16-11, much in thanks to a dominant showing by the epee squad, which overpowered Vassar 8-1. Again, a strong home crowd helped the Elis on.

    “It’s always tough going into the Yale fencing room,” Vassar coach Bruce Gillman said. “The atmosphere and some good fencing on the Yale team frustrated our epee squad, which up until the Yale match had been pretty unstoppable.”

    With two impressive wins in three days, the Elis will be looking to carry the momentum into the annual Ivy League round robin tournament which begins on Feb. 12.