March 25, 2009

Fencers Conclude Season in Penn.

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While much of the country has been caught up in the NCAA men’s basketball finals, other winter sports, including fencing, have also been ending their seasons this month. Last weekend, four fencers traveled to State College, Penn., to fence in the 2009 NCAA Fencing Championship, where the team finished 19th out of 24 teams. Sophomore foil co-captain Jessica Tranquada came in 20th out of the 24 foilists, senior co-saber captain Alex Heiss placed 20th among the 24 saberists, and of the 25 epeeists, junior epee co-captain Tasha Hall came in 19th and junior Sallie Dietrich came in 24th.[img_assist|nid=36230|title=Lay down your weapon|desc=Cornell sent four fencers to the NCAA Fencing Championship last weekend in State College, Penn. The Red finished 19th out of 24 teams to end its season.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“It’s always amazing to see all the top fencers from other regions together,” Tranquada said of the tournament. “Just making it is a big deal.”
Coincidentally, all four women made it to the tournament last year, when Tranquada placed 16th, Heiss 13th, Hall 23rd and Dietrich 22nd.
Heiss is the only fencer in Cornell history to make it to the NCAA finals all four years.
“It was great to go for my fourth year and say goodbye to people I’ve been fencing since high school,” she said. “Even though my result is not as good as it was in the past, I’m happy with it considering competition was a lot harder.”
Hall verified this claim, saying, “There were about eight Olympians back this year” who had been training last year with the Olympic team and had therefore sat out collegiate competitions.
“It’s also harder going against state schools, since we’re used to facing the other Ivies,” she added, explaining that fencing teams at some of the top state schools often practice twice a day, every day.
“They train so much harder than we do, so when I beat an Ohio State girl, it was one of my best moments,” Hall said.
Rounding out the epee squad was Dietrich, who was the runner-up in the qualifying regional round of the tournament. She was one of the two women picked by the NCAA committee from each of the four regions’ runners-up to attend the finals.
“It was an honor to be there,” she said, “but it’s intimidating to see the list of incredibly good fencers you have to face. But it was a good experience and lots of fun.”