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Fencing teams finish second-to-last in Ivy Champs

Both squads entered the competition with just one loss, but struggled against talented Ivy competition

The men’s and women’s fencing teams hosted the Ivy League Championships Saturday and Sunday at the OMAC, with the men taking fifth place out of six teams and the women bringing home sixth out of seven.

Bruno challenged some of the best teams in the nation — as four of each of the men’s and women’s competitors rank in the top ten in the country.

“After competing against them for years, we start to know the players of the other schools,” said women’s captain Kathryn Hawrot ’14. “They’re tough competitors, but they’re not impossible to beat. We tried to keep our heads in the game.”

The team competed in three weapon areas: saber, foil and epee. Each team sends three competitors to each weapon group, and each competitor fights every person in their division. In a match against Princeton, the three Bears would each fight the opposing three Tigers — for a total of 27 bouts, with a win earning a point.

Saber fencing is characterized by more aggressive tactics and fast footwork. Foil fencing involves more movement of the body to avoid the opponent’s weapon. Epee fencing emphasizes clean blade work and maintaining proper footwork.

Both the men’s and women’s squads jumped out to strong starts Saturday morning, taking down Yale 17-10 and 14-13, respectively. But that was all the team success the Bears would taste, as both the men and women would struggle the rest of the weekend. The men fell to Columbia, Princeton, Penn and Harvard to round out their 1-4 meet. Similarly, the women fell to Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, Penn and Harvard. The Bruno losses were not without drama, as the women battled Cornell to a 14-13 final and Penn to a 15-12 decision.

“I thought we had a strong performance,” Hawrot said. “We did drop a few places since last year, so we were kind of bummed about that. This year was a little harder than past years, though, so I still thought we had a strong performance.”

Despite mediocre team finishes, many Brunonians turned in respectable individual performances.

In women’s saber, Caitlin Taylor ’14 earned a spot on the All-Ivy second team, leading the Bears with 12 wins. Taylor rode a 12-6 record to fifth place in saber. Taylor’s saber success was echoed by teammates Lauren Altman ’16 in seventh place and Christine Whalen ’15 in ninth place. With an impressive 5-4 record on day one of the tournament, Hawrot turned in a tenth place finish in women’s foil.

“I was pretty happy,” Hawrot said. “I didn’t do as well as last year, but there are new, high-ranked freshman so the competition was definitely harder this year. I have some places to improve in. Overall, it was a good way to go out as a senior.”

Women’s epee witnessed a notable performance from Laney Caldwell ’14. Caldwell finished Saturday in eighth place and rounded out Sunday in twelfth.

Leading the way in men’s saber was Alex Palabrica ’17. The first-year notched a 6-9 record, good enough for 10th place in the evenly-matched field. Barrett Weiss ’15 took eleventh place in men’s foil, with a record of 7-8. Twin 9-6 finishes from epee swordsmen Simon Jones ’16 and James Yoon ’17 placed the teammates in a tie for seventh place.

The meet comes after an impressive regular season for both squads. The men carried a 13-1 record into the conference final, while the women posted a 14-1 regular season mark. The struggles this weekend after both teams’ dominance all season is a testament to the caliber of Ivy competition. The men improved one place on last season’s sixth-place finish at the Ivy meet, while the women fell two places from their fourth-place rank last season.

In team competition, Harvard and Columbia tied for the Ivy title with matching 4-1 records. On the women’s side, defending national champion Princeton took the title with an untouchable 6-0 record.

While the Ivy meet is a climax of the season, it is not the end. The Bears will fence again in the NCAA Regionals March 9 in Wellesley, Mass.


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