November 16, 2001

Fencing Ready to Climb up Ivies

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While it may reside on the periphery of the sporting consciousness for many Cornellians, there are many reasons to be very interested in the exploits of the fencing team. For one, sports like basketball, hockey and football may produce tremendous excitement and heated rivalries, but deriving national significance from Ivy League contests in these sports is often a difficult task. Fencing is altogether different.

“In fencing, the Ivy League is pretty much the strongest collection of talent in the country,” said sixth-year coach Al Peters.

The Red begins its Ivy season on Dec. 1 against Yale. Like all Cornell sports, Peters notes that its goal is to win the Ivy League championship. Nonetheless, he is aware that in the deepest conference in the country, it will be an uphill battle.

“Realistically, I think it’s going to be tough this year,” he noted.

The team’s camaraderie is crucial to its success.

“We count on working together to beat other teams,” Peters added. “There are too many players to instruct at the same time so [they] do a great job of lending their eyes and ears to each other.”

There has been one event thus far in the fencing season, the Temple Open, which took place in Philadelphia on Nov. 3. The tournament, being an individual, preseason event, lent itself naturally to the role of training tool, designed to break in the newcomers and build cohesion in the squad for the more important battles looming ahead. When asked to assess the team’s performance in this tournament, Peters was neither effusive nor negative in his assessment.

“At this tournament, they hit right about where I expected them to hit,” he stated.

Nonetheless, there have undoubtedly been some quite positive achievements for the team at this early point in the season. At fencing matches and tournaments, the players are split into three competition groups, each based on the weapon they use: epee, saber or foil. In the epee standings, Stephanie Glaser, Patricia Blumenauer, and Siobhan Cully made it to the round of sixteen before finishing 10th, 11th, and 12th respectively. In the saber Standings, Elinor Granzow finished 12th, while in the foil standings, Tara Watkins made it all the way to the eighth spot before losing to Penn State’s Meredith Chin who Peters describes as one of the top collegiate fencers in the country.

The players, also, feel pretty good about where they are at this point in the season.

“We’ve actually been doing really well,” said Blumenauer, the epee captain. “I think it is going to be a good season. Now we just want to prepare for Yale. It’s one of our tougher meets. If we could beat them it would be great, but they’re one of our toughest competitors.”

While the team has had a handful of solid performances so far that it will likely add to as the season goes on, there are several obstacles that Red will have to overcome on the way. For one, it lost Ellyn Rajfer ’01, a three-year captain, to graduation and Roopa Rangi, who elected to take some time off from the sport. Both players advanced all the way to the national NCAA fencing championships last year.

Peters acknowledges that some of their contributions may be missed but he is confident in the group of players he has to fill those and any other voids. Blumenauer also concurred.

“We suffered a lot of losses but we gained a lot of talent,” she said.

Archived article by Andrew Bernie