March 3, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Five Yale fencers will head to Cambridge, Mass., this Sunday for the NCAA Regional tournament. The competition at MIT will determine which fencers will head to the National tournament later this month. Heading to Cambridge from Yale are epeeists Abigail Fraeman, Rebecca Moss and Kristin Saetveit, saberist Katherine Arden and foilist Katharine Pitt.
Arden, Fraeman and Moss fenced at last year's regional tournament, where captain Lidia Gocheva was the only to advance. Gocheva had to end her season early this year due to illness. Then-sophomore Moss, who qualified for the NCAA National tournament her freshman year, ended up 18th. The epeeist encountered the eventual second-, fourth-, and seventh-place finishers in the second round of pool fencing and was unable to escape. Fellow epeeist Fraeman had an impressive outing last year, finishing 15th and just missing out on qualifying. Arden finished in 16th place for the Yale sabre squad. For freshman Pitt and junior Saetveit, this will be their first trip to Regionals. The regional tournament is set up very differently from regular dual meets. Instead of being a team event, the regional tournament is completely individual. The tournament is set up in three rounds, with approximately half the fencers from each round being promoted to the next (48 to 24 to 12). In each round, fencers are placed in a pool with 5-7 others and fence each of those fencers to five touches.
After each round, fencers are ranked by their results and then a percentage of lowest finishers are eliminated. If a fencer survives the three rounds she has a good chance to qualify for Nationals. This tournament, however, is only 60% of the equation for determining who competes at Nationals on Mar. 22. The other 40% is the fencer's ranking going into the tournament (determined by the fencer's record throughout the season).
Junior epeeist Moss, coming off a strong weekend at the IFA Championships, is ready for her third trip to Regionals.
"This tournament set-up is really high pressure because every bout can effect if you advance or are eliminated. You have to fence a lot of different people so you have to be focused enough to adapt to each person in a short amount of time," she noted.
She added, "The biggest difference is that this tournament is individual. Most of the season you fence with your entire team by your side and everyone's wins and losses count. At Regionals, it's all you and if you mess up there's no one to pick up the slack."
At Regionals the five Bulldogs will encounter familiar adversaries as well as a few new ones.
"Regionals are fun because they give you the opportunity to fence people who you have already fenced earlier in the season," commented Fraeman. "You already have a sense of how they fence, and you can use your knowledge to adjust your strategy and become a more effective fencer against them. It's also good to have the opportunity to re-fence people you narrowly lost to during the regular season."
Regionals are followed up by the two-day NCAA National competition in University Park, Pa., on Mar. 22.
Report filed by Dominique Fenton '10, Yale Sports Publicity