After sending 10 fencers to last Sunday’s NCAA Regionals, the Cornell women’s fencing team posted successful results, finishing the meet with three individuals in the top 10.
Senior Victoria Wines highlighted Cornell’s weekend with her second place finish among 45 epee fencers. Her silver medal represented the second consecutive time making the podium at Regionals, and fourth overall time in her career. Wines’ finish also qualified her for a spot at the upcoming NCAA Championships.
“This will be my fourth trip to the NCAA championships, and I have been excited every time,” Wines said. “I’m looking forward to see what happens this year.”
Cornell’s epee squad was rounded out by three freshmen who recorded notable finishes in their first Regionals: Caroline Kleiner at 17th, Rebekah Jones at 18th and Vera Lin at 23rd.
The Red also enjoyed success in the foil event, as juniors Luby Kiriakidi and Gabriella Zusin finished fifth and ninth, respectively. The duo’s performances placed them into contention for spots at the championship tournament. Junior Julia Telischi rounded out the foil squad with a 14th place finish.
“I had to remind myself … that I’ve been working hard all season, and I deserved to [make Regionals],” Kiriakidi said. “I also kept feeling that I was missing some key secret to fencing well, but I realized there is no key besides getting on the strip, using my tools and watching every moment … to outmove and mess with my opponent.”
Juniors Regina Chen and Megan Buteau, and senior Abigail Forth competed in the sabre event and recorded respective finishes of 19th, 25th and 27th.
As a whole, the Red exceeded expectations. Six of the 10 competitors finished higher than their initial rankings entering the tournament. The feat is even more noteworthy after taking the Red’s circumstances entering the Regionals into account — six of Cornell’s competitors had never fenced in a NCAA tournament prior to Sunday, and several members of the Red had been recovering from injuries entering the tournament.
“Even though some of the girls had to overcome some injuries leading up to this tournament, [we] felt prepared, physically and tactically,” Chen said “It was a pleasure to see all of the team’s hard work in the gym and the salle come to fruition.”
While the performances of Wines, Kiriakidi and Zusin will undoubtedly highlight Regionals, the tournament also presented some learning opportunities for the team as a whole. In particular, Cornell gained valuable experience fencing in consecutive bouts for long periods of time.
“One of the struggles of the long day was remaining engaged mentally throughout all the bouts,” Chen said. “The team’s mantra ‘one touch at a time’ helped us move past those obstacles and refocus.”
The Regionals also afforded the Red an opportunity to reevaluate its mental toughness.
“[Regionals] was a reminder of how big the mental aspect of the sport is to the overall game,” Kiriakidi said. “I hope we as a team can keep discovering that mental talk brings out our best fencing individually.”
While many of the competitors will head home having gained valuable fencing experience in Regionals, at least one member of the Red will compete in the upcoming championships. Kiriakidi and Zusin will find out if they will be joining Wines when the official list of NCAA Championship qualifiers is released Tuesday afternoon.
The NCAA Championships begin on Friday, March 24 at Notre Dame and continue through Sunday, March 26