March 6, 2007

Fencing Takes on IFAs

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For the amount that people rhapsodize about historic American sporting events like the World Series, Super Bowl, or even the Masters, the longest continued sporting event in the United States is actually the Intercollegiate Fencing Association (IFA) championships held in Lawrenceville, N.J., each year.

This past weekend, the fencing team made the trip to compete in the full day tournament, with sophomore Alex Heiss placing fourth in the individual tournament and the team finishing seventh overall out of 12 teams.

“It’s such a long tournament so it’s all about keeping your stems up during the day,” Heiss said. “It’s really easy to lose your energy and aggressiveness.”
[img_assist|nid=21905|title=En garde|desc=The fencing team took seventh in the IFA championships this past weekend.|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=66]

The tournament is so exhausting because the day begins with a team tournament. Each of the 12 teams faces off against every other team. During this stretch — which included bouts against each Ivy team as well as Boston College, Brandeis, Vassar, MIT and NYU — the Red landed a total of 349 touches, but received 369, leading to 47 victories in 99 bouts.

Standouts for Cornell included senior captain Ivana Zgaljic and Elise Pasoreck for the sabre squad. For the foil team, freshman Beth Rubin, and seniors Dana Baines and Shannon Flatley were among the top fencers for the Red in the team tournament.

However, only the top competitors are promoted to the individual tournament, which takes place directly after the team tournament concludes. Seeding is based on performance in the team tournament, and the bouts are direct-elimination 15-point contests. Freshman epeeist Tasha Hall and junior epeeist Erica Waichman joined Heiss in the individual tournament.

While Waichman didn’t place, Hall took ninth and Heiss took fourth.

“It was mostly a matter of confidence that I had build up over the season,” Heiss said. “I had fenced all these opponents already this season. Going into the tournament, I felt I had the focus on being clear with my actions and not making mistakes.”

At the end of the day, Heiss pointed out that the tournament is more about stamina than anything else.

“It’s mostly a mental game,” she said. “Being aggressive and being confident is the most important thing.”

Harvard took the overall title with 346 total points, the Crimson’s third straight IFA championship.