March 27, 2007

Heiss Takes 13th at NCAAs

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This past weekend, sophomore Alex Heiss traveled to Madison, N.J. to represent the women’s fencing team at the 2007 NCAA championships in Simon Forum at Drew University.

Heiss, who qualified for the event by finishing sixth at the NCAA Northeast Regional championships, finished 13th in the Sabre Division among an extremely competitive field of 24 fencers from across the nation.

“The women sabre field was pretty tough,” Heiss said, “There were a lot good fencers at the tournament. So given the conditions, I’m pretty happy with my performance.”

The competition was broken up into two days; rounds one through four were held on Saturday while the last three rounds took place on Sunday. After the first four rounds, Heiss sat at 14th place with a 42% winning percentage and an indicator score of -10 (46-TS, 56-TS). However, she was able to win four of her final nine bouts on Day 2 to move up one spot in the final standings.

Overall Heiss finished with 10 victories, winning 44 percent of her bouts and scoring 75 touches to 90 touches recieved.

“ I’m sure her traveling alone, with none of her other teammates competing, was not the way she would have preferred it if she had a choice,” said assistant coach Olena Gutor. “I’m sure she would have liked to see more of her teammates there with her because that’s the kind of girl she is. And the fact that she was still able to go out and compete the way she did just makes her performance all the more impressive.”

Some of her most impressive bouts included victories over Christine Griffith (Temple), 5-0, Kristine Jones (Temple), 5-4, Randy Alevi (Brown), 5-3, and Eva Jellison (Stanford), 5-2. Heiss also defeated three fencers that finished the competition ahead of her, including Eileen Grench (seventh), Jellison (10th) and Alevi (12th).

“I just tried to remain focused, even though I knew I was facing stiff competition,” she said. “I just tried to focus, compete as hard as I could and not worry about who was seeded where.”

Her 13th place finish was also a huge improvement from last year’s 20th place finish at the same tournament, but Heiss believes she could have done even better.

“I let a couple of bouts slip away. I had some good upsets, but I also lost some bouts that I feel I should have won.”

Cornell was one of only five Ivy League teams to qualify fencers for the tournament, with the other schools being Columbia, Yale, Brown and Harvard. The Red also qualified two fencers for the second straight year. However Senior Ivana Zgaljic, who represented Cornell at two of the last three NCAA Championships and was scheduled to compete this past weekend again, opted to not compete.

After the team’s strong season and her successful campagin, Heiss is excited about the prospects for herself and her team next year.

“This year our coaching staff did a great job of coaching us and we — as a team — put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard-work and it showed in the results. I’m confident that with the same amount of focus and dedication, the team will only continue to improve.”