The sound of steel clashing against steel rings out from the depths of Bartels Hall. Two masked combatants lunge furiously at each other, trading rapid parries and ripostes almost faster than the eye can see.
While it’s short on the violence and bloody endings of most silver screen duels, collegiate fencing lacks none of the excitement or intensity. Cornell’s coach, Al Peters, commented on what sets fencing apart from other college sports: “I think that fencing courts complexity and intellectual appeal. It’s a combination of technique with tremendous spirit. It makes for a fascinating challenge.”
Fencing matches are divided into three categories: foil, epee, and sabre. Each weapon has its own particular nuances and rules of competition.
Experience remains the largest challenge the Red will have to overcome this season.
“Last year we graduated our top fencer in each weapon,” said Peters. “We’ve brought in five freshmen this year, which is a big change, as well as one transfer student, so it was a very new team. I know that they had prepared extremely well. It’s a motivated and ready team.”
The Red made a strong debut two weeks ago at the Temple Open in Philadelphia. The event was a preseason tournament where the fencers competed individually. Thus, the Open was considered a good warmup for the team’s experienced fencers and a valuable training opportunity for the new recruits.
Regardless of any stumbles as a result of inexperience, the team performed well in Peters’ view.
“I was pretty happy,” said Peters. “The epee team was