On Sunday, the women’s fencing team competed in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Across the three disciplines — foil, saber and epee — 104 athletes fought for one of 36 positions in the final of four elimination rounds. Two Bears, Casey Chan ’23, a former Herald staff writer, and Sofia Yee-Wadsworth ’24, were able to reach the final round of play. Both Chan and Yee-Wadsworth were selected to compete in the 2023 National Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships after their performances at NCAA Regionals.
“Regionals is without a doubt one of the hardest competitions of our season,” Yee-Wadsworth wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “It is a ten-hour marathon where you are … fighting your own mental and physical fatigue. It is completely and utterly draining, but even though everyone was contending with their own competition-day emotions, people on the team were constantly looking out for each other.”
Chan, one of the team’s two captains, narrowly missed the podium, finishing fourth in the saber — the fastest of the three fencing disciplines. During this event, athletes earn points for striking their opponents, either with the tip or with the side of their blade, in a target area anywhere above the waist. Rebecca Whang ’25 and Alexandra Tzou ’26 competed in the saber as well, finishing in 13th place and 16th place, respectively.
Seeded ninth overall in the saber, Chan was exempt from competing in the first round of competition. In the second and third pools, which each consisted of six bouts, Chan advanced with three and four victories, respectively. Chan’s early efforts propelled her into the final round of play.
With the NCAA Championships looming and playing for the possibility of qualifying, the stakes were high in the final round. Over the course of her 11 bouts, Chan was able to strike her opponents 41 times while only being struck 37 times herself, earning her a total of five victories — with her total touches serving as a tiebreaker.
“The NCAA Regionals are always a challenging tournament, but I enjoyed competing with great fencers throughout the day,” Chan wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “I was really thankful for my teammates’ support throughout the competition. I want to commend their awesome performances as well.”
“It would be a dream come true to compete at the NCAA Championships again,” Chan, who finished in 12th place during last year’s championships, wrote. “Throughout my fencing career, I’ve always dreamed of competing at (the) NCAA Championships and going up against some of the best fencers in the sport … It was a surreal experience last year and I enjoyed being able to compete on the collegiate national stage.”
This year, Chan said she hopes “to do even better than I did last year.”
The Bears also battled their way into the final rounds of another event: Yee-Wadsworth finished in seventh place in the epee. During the epee, which uses the largest of the three swords, athletes can only attack their opponents wielding the tip of their blades. With the target area expanded to encompass the entire body, athletes tend to play more defensively, causing the epee to be considered to have the slowest pace of the three disciplines.
“If you had asked me on Saturday before the competition if I would get seventh, I would have laughed and said you were being too kind,” Yee-Wadsworth wrote in a message to The Herald. “Regionals was without a doubt some of the best fencing of my career and I am very happy with my results, but I am also very grateful for everyone who supported me throughout this grueling competition, especially my mom and my teammates.”
Due to her seeding as one of the top 13 contestants, Yee-Wadsworth was able to sit out the first round of play. Over the next two rounds, she won seven out of a possible 12 bouts. In the final pool, Yee-Wadsworth was victorious in five of her 11 bouts, earning the seventh overall position. Yee-Wadsworth’s teammates, Arianna Baffa ’24 and Dasha Smuk ’26, finished in 25th place and 32nd place, respectively.
“Although I fenced very well yesterday, there are still technical and athletic areas of my fencing where I need to improve in order to excel at future competitions,” Yee-Wadsworth added. “Next year will be my final season on the Brown varsity women’s fencing team and I hope to build upon the successes from this season to continue to proudly represent Brown and the fencing team in 2023-24.”
In the foil, Anika Breker ’24 finished in 16th place, Anisha Kasi ’23 took home 21st place, Grace Li ’26 finished 29th and Samantha Chon ’24 finished 42nd.
Chan and Yee-Wadsworth will next compete in the NCAA Championships, which will take place March 23-26 and will be hosted by Duke University.