December 2, 2008

Offseason Training Creates High Hopes

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This year, the fencing team expects to be better than ever. With hardly any recently graduated seniors and several new freshmen, team captain Katherine Thompson said, “All three squads are getting better.”
“The climate and discipline of the team changed a lot [this year],” agreed head coach Iryna Dolgikh. “There is a lot more discipline.”
After strong individual showings by the women at the Temple Collegiate Open, the team will be tested in the upcoming months at the Brandeis and Wellesley Invitationals coming up in December and January.
Then, it is on to Ivy play. Last year, the team tied for fifth place amongst the Ivies with a 2-4 record. However, junior Alison Ewing, co-captain of the saber squad, said, “We’re going to be a lot more competitive in the Ivies this year.”
The team will have ample time to practice before facing the six other Ivies with fencing teams on Feb. 8 at Columbia and Feb. 22 at Harvard.
Thompson, who also serves as the co-captain of the epee squad, attributed some of the team’s anticipated success to their new training and weight-lifting regimen.
“By October, we already noticed that the girls were a lot stronger,” Dolgikh said.
Although juniors Sallie Dietrich and Tasha Hall, who are both on the epee squad, are abroad this semester, they will both return in the spring to complete the team.
The foil squad expects a successful season as well. Sophomore foil co-captain Jessica Tranquada noted that, “Foil is a lot stronger this year.”
Ewing has high hopes for the saber squad as well.
“[The saber team had] a really strong season last year and didn’t lose anyone,” Ewing said. “… We’re just going to have the opportunity to get better because we’ve all had more experience.”
She added that the team has been helped by the new freshmen. “We have really high expectations because they all did really well [at Temple].”
During that competition, four of the five newcomers placed into the direct elimination round of the tournament, and freshman Rebecca Hirschfield placed 10th in foil.
In addition to performing well in the Ivy League, it is also important for the women to make it to the NCAA championships.
After sending three women last year, assistant coach Rachel Covault said, “We hope to qualify more people for the NCAA championships this year.”
Dolgikh credits the women’s improving performance to their willpower.
“We have lost to better teams in the past,” Dolgikh said. “But we won with our spirit. I always believe in my girls, and I try to motivate them. I say, ‘That other fencer — she has the same two arms and the same two legs [as you]! Go fight! Why not?’”