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Fencers finish 13th at NCAA Championship

Sports Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A record six fencers represented Bruno at the NCAA Division I Championship last week and led the team to a 13th place overall finish in a field of 25 schools. Teddy Weller ’13 and Kelly McGuire ’13 led the way for the Bears, racking up nine points each. Christine Whalen ’15, Barrett Weiss ’15, Kathryn Hawrot ’14 and Cory Abbe ’13 also competed in the tournament.

Each weapon had 24 competitors. For the men, McGuire finished 18th in epee, Weller finished 20th in sabre and Weiss came in last in foil. On the women’s side, Whalen and Hawrot came in 19th in sabre and foil, respectively. Abbe finished 21st in epee. Brown was only one of nine schools to have at least one fencer compete in each weapon.

Despite finishing in the highest position among Bruno competitors, McGuire said he had hoped to do better at the tournament.

“I could not get focused, and I got kind of flustered,” he said. “So the next day I kind of refocused and had a really excellent second day.”

The record number of competitors comes only a season after the men’s and women’s fencing programs were almost eliminated from the University’s varsity athletics program. Head Coach Atilio Tass said the large number of fencers Brown sent to the tournament demonstrates the success and bright future of the program. 

“Having so many people qualify – the result speaks for itself,” Tass said. “It has been a great season, and we are looking forward for next year.”

Tass said he was happy with his players’ performances at the tournament, adding that he believes that each of the six could return to the tournament next season.

“This is a very dedicated group of people, and they love what they are doing,” Tass said. 

McGuire, a first-time participant at the tournament, said he thinks the Bears can feature even more fencers in the tournament next season, noting that the team has several talented players beyond the six who competed at nationals. 

“I think we definitely have a group of incredibly competitive and strong athletes,” McGuire said. “Everyone does really push themselves pretty hard, and it’s been fun because every year now … the team has improved.”

None of the competitors at this year’s tournament were seniors, and half of the competitors at the tournament were underclassmen.

“This experience – it builds for the future,” Tass said. “The fact they have qualified as a freshman or sophomore … is very, very impressive.”

Tass said the strong first-year performances from Whalen and Weiss were particularly impressive in light of the turmoil surrounding the program. 

“It (was) a very difficult recruiting season, especially because, at the time I was recruiting, we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen with the program,” Tass said. “But I think (recruits believed) that we were not going to be cut.”

The NCAA tournament ended what Tass called “a great season” and, with several talented underclassmen fencers, the Bears have reason to be encouraged for next season.

“There’s just more room for improvement, and everyone seems to think that’s the way it’s going,” McGuire said.


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