February 17, 2006

Heiss, Waichman Set For Junior Olympics

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Freshman Alex Heiss and sophomore Erica Waichman are heading to Hartford, Conn. this weekend to compete in the Junior Olympic National Championships. Over 1,600 fencers will compete in the tournament this weekend. The tournament has a junior (under-20) and a cadet (under-17) division, with Heiss and Waichman slated to compete in the junior field. Competitors qualify for the event by earning national fencing points, or by placing in local qualifying tournaments.

Since this is an individual event, Heiss and Waichman will be fencing for themselves for the first time this season, as opposed to competing for Cornell. Due to the nature of the competition, the quality of fencers should be more advanced. However, the preparation remains the same for the two Cornellians.

“We have been practicing as usual. We had some Ivy League matches, and there were really good fencers there. That should give us some practice heading into this event,” Heiss said. “I think I have improved a bit since my last national competition, and I’ll get to see how much.”

“It is a lot different, because it is individual, but in the end, I am still representing Cornell, which makes you feel good,” Waichman said.

Waichman, who will be comWaichman, who will be competing in the epee, and Heiss, who will be competing in the sabre, have both fenced in this tournament before. Waichman, who missed last year’s championships due to illness, finished 18th two years ago, and hopes to improve on her performance.

“I just want to fence as well as I can, and hopefully win more bouts than last time,” she said. “I have been taking a lot of one on one lessons with [Cornell head] coach [Iryna Dolgikh], and been doing a lot of bouting during practice. You need to be physically strong and able to go the distance for the entire day.”

This year, the duo qualified based on national points. The tournament will not only have the traditional college-length matches, but will also include longer, 15-point matches.

“I am more used to this format, as opposed to the college format,” Heiss said. “The longer bouts will be an adjustment, but I like them more, as they give you a chance to feel out your opponent.”

Both Heiss and Waichman turned in strong performances last week in the inaugural Ivy League Championships, and will look to keep that momentum going. Heiss recorded two victories in a 19-8 loss to Yale in the Ivy League championships, while Waichman won all three of her matches against Penn in Cornell’s 21-8 loss to the Quakers.

“I just want to fence as much as I can, and finish at least in the top-32, to get national points,” Heiss said.

Archived article by Jeremy Drucker
Sun Staff Writer