February 10, 2009

Fencers Closer Than Last Year

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The fencing team (7-7, 1-2) kicked off Ancient Eight play this weekend during the first half of the Ivy League Championship at Columbia. The women finished 1-2, beating Brown, 17-10, but losing to fifth-ranked Harvard, 6-21, and seventh-ranked Princeton, 11-16.
“The Ivy championship is the [hardest] tournament for us because there are many national, world and Olympic team members there,” said head coach Iryna Dolgikh.
Despite losses to the Tigers and the Bruins, Dolgikh said, “It’s ok, we’re getting stronger. It was a great experience.”[img_assist|nid=34912|title=Take a stab at it|desc=The fencing team went 1-2 in its first half of the Ivy League Championship, defeating Brown but falling to Harvard and Princeton.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
She said the team minimized its margin against Harvard as compared to last year, and came close to beating Princeton.
The saber squad managed to beat Princeton, yet lost to the other two schools. Nevertheless, “We had a lot of really close bouts,” said senior Alex Heiss, noting that co-saber captain and sophomore Gwen Waichman almost beat a Harvard fencer who also competes for the junior national team, freshman Caroline Vloka.
“This shows that we can definitely beat anyone if we start strategizing more. We can become a top saber team in the future,” Heiss said.
Although the team as a whole may have lost two matches, each fencer’s personal record is what will determine who makes it to the NCAA regional championships. Dolgikh noted that many of the women fenced well on an individual, as well as team, level.
Additionally, after both rounds of Ivy tournaments, six of the best fencers from each squad in the Ivy League are selected and honored. Last year, Heiss became the third Cornellian to receive this honor.
“I hope to keep up my record to get it again,” she said.
Assistant coach Rachel Covault noted that having a tournament in New York City allowed many parents and alumni from the area to watch the team.
“It was neat to have a crowd surrounding us,” she said.
Team and co-epee captain, junior Katherine Thompson, was positive about the tournament. “The team tried very hard and that’s all you can really ask,” she said. “We didn’t lose for lack of trying. It was a good challenge and fun to fence such great fencers.”