The women’s fencing team finished last at the Ivy League Championships Saturday and Sunday at the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center. The six schools that the Bears faced were all ranked in the top 15 of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association Midseason Poll released Feb. 4.
Sophia Yee-Wadsworth ’24 picked up eight individual wins to finish eighth in the epee, while Anika Breker ’24 and Casey Chan ’23, a former Herald senior staff writer, each won seven bouts in the foil and sabre, respectively.
“I don’t think we underperformed,” Head Coach Alex Ripa said. “These teams are very, very strong.”
Additionally, according to Ripa, the program lost a number of bouts by a 5-4 score. “If we converted even 50% of those, there would have been a lot of breakthroughs,” he said.
“I think this is the best our team has performed in a long time,” said Chan, adding that some Brown fencers beat individual opponents they had never previously defeated.
“I was really impressed with how we fenced,” Team Captain Anna Susini ’22 said, emphasizing that some of the teams Bruno faced had “twice the roster size we did.”
For Susini, the weekend marked her last Ivy League Championships at Brown. “I see this team that I helped build and I think that legacy is being carried on,” she said. “For me, I’m just really happy (and) really proud of them.”
The fact that Brown hosted the tournament also made the occasion particularly special for Susini. “I was so glad we were able to have it at home because that definitely made it a lot sweeter,” she said.
Ripa agreed, saying that the crowd support for the hosts was powerful, with alums, parents and parents of alums in attendance. “The noise on Saturday was overwhelming,” he said. “Everybody felt that there’s a new breeze blowing.”
“The feeling of what the team is capable of has changed,” he added.
But Ripa emphasized that it will be difficult for Brown to reach the level of other programs quickly, given the disparity in available resources.
According to Ripa, since the men’s fencing team does not have varsity status, the fencing program as a whole has fewer coaches than other Ivy League programs. The disparity of resources with other fencing programs makes competing for the Ivy League championship all the more challenging, he said.
Still, Susini is highly optimistic about the future of Brown fencing if it does receive more resources. “There are no doubts in my mind that Brown can get there,” she said.
Up next for the program is the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championships at Brandeis University Feb. 26. On March 13, fencers will compete individually in the Northeast Fencing Regionals in Cambridge, Mass.
Despite the disappointing results over the weekend, Ripa said that the team’s performance showed that the program is headed in a new direction. “I come away from the weekend realizing that we have convinced people that Brown has decided … to compete,” he said.