February 22, 2006

Fencers Place at Jr. Olympics

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Sophomore Erica Waichman and freshman Alex Heiss have been two of the top performers all season long for the fencing team. This past weekend they proved it.

Fencing in the Junior Olympic national championships in Hartford, Conn., over the weekend, both Waichman and Heiss both turned in strong performances.

“They fenced very well, and I am very proud. The Junior Olympics had a high number of clubs and was a big, big tournament, with a high level of competition. They got good experience, and this will help us as a team and in the NCAAs later,” said head coach Iryna Dolgikh.

The tournament, which featured over 1,600 fencers from over 200 clubs and universities, was indeed a huge event. It had both men’s and women’s competitions in foil, sabre and epee in the junior (under-20) and cadet (under-17) age groups.

Waichman, an epeeist, competed last Friday. After a posting a stellar 6-1 record in her preliminary pool bouts, she advanced to the elimination round, with a first-round bye. The elimination round contains 15-point bouts, longer than the standard NCAA bouts.

After the bye, Waichman was able to win her first match in this stage, before falling in her second match to the third ranked epeeist on the United States junior team, Keri Byerts. Waichman finished in 51st place in a field of 170. Byerts, who has committed to national powerhouse No. 2 Penn State, fell behind early, but rallied to defeat Waichman. Byerts went on to win the bronze medal in the event.

“I was hoping to have had a better finish, but I fenced amazingly, and held my own against some incredible fencers. I am very proud of how I did. The best part of any sport is that you get better each time, so hopefully this will prepare me for the IFCs and the NCAAs,” Waichman said.

Heiss competed in the sabre on Monday, and advanced through to the elimination stage with a 4-2 record. Heiss cruised through her first two elimination bouts with 15-4 and 15-1 victories, before falling in a nail-biter by a score of 15-12. Her opponent in that match, Robin Shin, went on to win the bronze medal in sabre.

With her performance, Heiss finished 26th out of 126 competitors.

“I fenced pretty well at certain points. I didn’t do as well as I could have in the pools. I felt I had a comparatively difficult pool, and then in the elimination bouts I fenced well against the first two people. I was pretty scared against the third person because she has a great reputation and has a high rank nationally. I was able to catch up a bit, and fenced some of the best points I have ever done during the middle of the bout. This will definitely help in terms of getting my confidence up and knowing I can beat anyone if focused,” Heiss said.

“[Heiss] fenced amazingly, and I am very proud of her,” Dolgikh said. “She was very close to winning that match, and she was excellent. She is just a freshman, and she has had a very strong starting season. I am very excited for her. They both fenced very well in direct elimination.”

Archived article by Jeremy Drucker
Sun Staff Writer