Feb. 26, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale fencers will head to Waltham, Mass., for the IFA Championships this Saturday. Coming off a 2-4 Ivy League finish, the Bulldogs will meet Ivy rivals again among others.
The Intercollegiate Fencing Association was in existence before the NCAA had collegiate fencing, thus the IFA Championships is a non-NCAA tournament between the colleges that are in the IFA. It has an unusual format and its own trophies.
Instead of NCAA team fencing, where the three starters fence each of the other three starters (for a total of nine bouts), the IFA format is such that each of the three starters is named either "A strip," "B strip" or "C strip" and they only fence opponents in the same strip for three bouts. So unlike the NCAA format, where the winning team has won at least 14 of 27 bouts (nine per squad x three weapons), the IFA winning team has won five out of nine bouts (three per squad x three weapons).
Because there are fewer matches in this format, more teams can fence in a given day. Yale will therefore be fencing the Ivy League, Brandeis, Vassar, Boston College, MIT and NYU. Against the aforementioned opponents, Yale is 7-4 this season. The four losses come from Ivy League foes Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania and Columbia.
The IFA gives trophies to the first-place team as well as to each first-place squad. The epee squad came in second place last year.
The IFA Championship then becomes an individual tournament. The highest eight "A Strip", six "B Strip", and two "C strip" fencers are entered into a direct elimination tournament. Unlike NCAA fencing where all bouts are the first to five touches, a direct elimination bout is fenced to 15 touches.
The team is optimistic about this weekend's tournament.
"I think we are very ready for IFAs," noted junior sabreist Katherine Arden. "We fenced well against some tough teams at Ivies and I think that has given us the confidence to go into IFAs strong. I am very excited to see how our strong freshmen foil squad will do in the individuals. Kate Pitt and Valeria Makeeva have been fencing well all season, and I expect they will do well."
The following Sunday, the Bulldogs begin their NCAA journey with the NCAA Regional Championship in Cambridge, Mass.
Report filed by Dominique Fenton '10, Yale Sports Publicity