Bulldogs Prepare For NCAA Championship

March 18, 2009

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Since qualifying for the NCAA Championships at the conclusion of the NCAA Northeast Regional Competition on Mar. 8th, epeeists Alexander Cohen and Michael Pearce and foilists John Gurrieri and Shiv Kachru have been training in anticipation for this weekend's competition, to be held at Penn State's Ashenfelter Multi-Sport Facility. The four Bulldogs will be competing against the best fencers in their respective weapons from all around the country to determine individual National Champions.

The 2009 National Collegiate Men's and Women's Fencing Championships will feature 145 total fencers, to compete in men's epee, men's foil, men's saber, women's epee, women's foil and women's saber. Initially, fencers will compete in a round-robin style format of five-touch bouts. At the conclusion of the round-robin portion of the competition, the top four fencers in each weapon will compete in 15-touch elimination matches for first, second and third place.

Though individual in its nature, the NCAA Championship will also determine the place finishes of particular institutions, based on the aggregate number of victories that their student-athletes accumulate. Thus, though the fencers will be competing individually, the championships will retain certain team characteristics. Moreover, for the Bulldogs, the qualification for the NCAA Championships of the four aforementioned fencers represents both an individual and a team achievement.

Said Pearce, "Because we can only qualify two fencers per weapon, I want to reiterate how important the efforts of all our fencers, including those who did not qualify, have been to building team unity and promoting a competitive atmosphere."

In addition to the four male fencers who qualified for this year's NCAA Championships, three fencers from the women's fencing team will also be participating, making a total of seven Yale fencers, the most in recent memory. Especially promising is the fact that four of the seven qualifying fencers are freshmen, indicating a bright future for Yale Fencing.

"Qualifying seven people, the most I've ever seen or heard go, to the NCAA Championships is a testament to how hard everyone on the team has been working this year," commented Pearce. "While we will be facing tough competition from the top members of all of the Ivy League teams as well as the top teams in the country, I know that our training -- both mental and physical -- will ensure that we give each opponent a good fight."

Team manager Andrew Holbrook will be accompanying the Bulldogs to the championships to provide support as an assistant coach.

More information about the NCAA Fencing Championships can be found here. Highlights from the competition will be shown on CBS at 1 p.m. Eastern time, Saturday, May 2.

Report Filed by Arsi Sefaj '11, Yale Sports Publicity