March 1, 2004

Fencing Places Fifth

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The fencing team finished its regular season this weekend, placing fifth at the 110th Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

While individual athletes will continue to compete in the NCAA qualifiers and tournament, this past Saturday was the last chance for Cornell to win as a team.

The Red rose to the occasion, fighting to a fifth place finish overall, the team’s best performance to date, improving upon its 2003 seventh place finish.

“It felt real good,” said head coach Al Peters. “The team was very proud.”

This weekend, all of the Ivy League schools were represented, along with Brandeis, MIT, Boston College, Vassar, and NYU.

“I expect them to fence well,” Peters said before the competition. “Everyone is eager and ready for the competition.”

The athletes exceeded Peters’ expectations. Personal records from team competition were used to determine who would qualify for a chance to fight for an individual title. The Red placed five athletes in the individuals, another unprecedented success for Cornell.

For the saber category, senior captain Lily Nierenberg and freshman Ivana Zgaljic represented the Red in individual competition. Freshman Alexa Rose and sophomore Meghan Phair qualified for epee, while freshman Shannon Flatley was the lone contender in foil. Last year, Phair was the lone athlete to compete in individual competition for the Red.

“The team is stronger than they were at the beginning of the season,” Peters said. “Teams that beat us strongly during the year we came back and beat them in this competition.”

The closest competition of the day was in the epee category. Rose led the Red in this team competition with a 10-1 record. Despite this break-out performance, Cornell finished one bout behind Columbia and Harvard, which tied for first.

The young saber squad came in fifth, bringing the Red its best finish ever in this category. The foil squad came in ninth in team competition.

“It’s wonderful for next year,” Peters said. “All the freshman we have saw concrete evidence for improvement. They have weathered tough and sometimes hard moments this year.”

The IFA Championships is an important competition because of the history behind it. It is one of the oldest college championships, and has been awarded every year since 1894.

“It’s just bragging rights,” Peters said. “But I like this competition particularly. When I was in school, it was more important than the NCAA. There is tremendous pride associated with it.”

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer