UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. -- Yale fencers kicked off their season this weekend at the Penn State Open. The Open, a two-day event, is an individual event that serves as a warm up for the regular season that begins after winter break. Although Penn State is not considered when equating NCAA rankings, it is an important tournament because it is one of the few individually based competitions and is the first opportunity to face major rivals including Harvard, Princeton, Ohio State, Northwestern, to n ame a few. Penn State is the reigning all-around NCAA champion. The format was three rounds of pools and then direct elimination once 16 fencers remain. This tournament also aids in deciding the starting line up because it gives the coaches and captains a chance to see how individuals perform in competition.
Women's foil had 56 competitors. Yale fencers finished:
6 Katherine Pitt
38 Jillian Liu
43 Zoe Egelman
Returning sophomore and all American, Katherine Pitt clenched the highest result for Yale women, finishing sixth. Her performance last year was outstanding and she able to deliver once again. Pitt is, as one member of the team described her, a destructive fencer, meaning that she is able to use her opponents best actions against them in creative and effective ways. Her victory yell is representative of the driven fencer she is and also serves to remind us of her other great passion, theater. Jillian Lui, also a sophomore, had a difficult first round and was unable to make the cut but continued on in the consolatory round. Lui was highly successful in this round winning two direction elimination bouts and only losing the third by a single point.
Rebecca Moss noted, "Although Lui had hoped to finished better in
initial round, she made the best of the consolatory round and
gained some important strip time and experience.
Women's epee had 54 competitors. Yale fencers finished:
23 Robyn Shaffer
24 Rebecca Moss
33 Alexia Cesar
34 Tasha Garcia
37 Sari Levy
44 Katherine Sergerty
Some of the Yale women who were offered a chance to compete in epee have less experience than the team as a whole. Alexie Cesar a sophomore and epee fencer from England is one example. Having only fenced a single bout in competition last year, Cesar stepped on to the strip at Penn State with a surprisingly determined and confident attitude. Her final result of 33rd hardly tells the whole story. In her first round of pools, Cesar surprised nationally ranked fencers including Niklinska from Northwestern (who finished 14th) and Clay from Princeton with complex combinations of parries to win several upset matches and make it on to the second round.
Moss comented, "Although that round did not go as well for her, considering her past level of competition, we are extremely proud of her results."
Robyn Shaffer, a freshman and epee fencer, also caused some major upsets. Although just as determined as Cesar, her fencing style is much different. On strip she seemed patient and clam. She remarked that her attitude was greatly effected by the prospect of a week break from homework and exams.
Moss noted, "Fencing with a slight bounce in her step and her point always on target, Shaffer was able to lull her opponents into a false sense of security and then - bam! Considering the level of this competition, her ability to make it to all three rounds of pools is impressive and we look forward to watching her other achievements throughout the year."
It should be noted that freshman and epee recurit Maddy Buxton was unable to compete due to a scheduling conflict with her brother's wedding. She will be a powerful force through the rest of the season.
Moss went into the tournament with a slight hip flexer injury. The first round went very for her. She won all her bouts and ranked third. However, as the day went on, her injury began to annoy her more and more.
She commented, "I'm disappointed that was unable to do my job as captain of effecting leading my team to the best of my ability. I'm looking forward to resting and recovering over break so that I will be to do so at Brandies."
Women's saber saw 45 fencers competing for gold. Yale fencers finished:
9 Madeline Oliver
31 Jennifer Ivers
32 Katherine Arden
37 Andrea Feuer
Freshman recruit Maddy Oliver led the way in this weapon finishing ninth. Oliver's lively demeanor off-strip is only matched by her energetic drive on-strip. Her speed is such that she can chase down her opponents in a matter of seconds. Through her drive she was able to cause some upsets in the initial rounds, beating girls like Miller from Ohio State who ultimately finished ahead of her.
Moss noted, "Although her direct elimination bout did not go as we hoped, I have no doubt that she will continue to be an active positive force on our team throughout her four years at Yale."
Seniors Katie Arden and Jennifer Ivers had difficult and disappointing first rounds. Although they were unable to make the cut, they both fenced very well in the consolatory round culminating with them having to fence each other for the final match of that branch of the competition with Ivers coming out on top.
Moss added, "As all athletes know, it is impossible to be 100% on at every competition. These results do not do justice to their level of experience and commitment. I have no doubt that they will both rise above this off-day performance to impressive results in the future."
Senior Andrea Feuer has had an interesting fencing career at Yale. She is good natured and willing to help the team. As a result Feuer, has switched from foil to saber. This was her first individual saber competition and despite her lack of experience, she was able to nab a victory in her first round.
Up next for the Bulldogs is the Brandeis Invitational on Dec. 5.