February 25, 2010

Fencers Head to Penn for Second Half of Ivy Championships

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The fencing team will conclude the Ivy League Championships and team competition for the 2009-10 season this weekend in Philadelphia, Pa. After last week’s bouts, the Red is ranked fifth in the tournament standings, with a win against Brown and losses to Harvard, Columbia and Penn. After finishing sixth at the championships last year, the Red hopes to continue its steady improvement by either retaining or advancing its position in the standings. Cornell will face Yale at 11 a.m., and Princeton at 1:15 p.m. to finish its bouts.

Cornell’s bouts against Yale will match the fifth-place Red against the sixth-place Bulldogs and should prove an even competition. Both teams had similar results against Penn, with the Red falling to the Quakers, 17-10, while the Bulldogs lost 16-11. Similarly, the Red and the Bulldogs had parallel results against the Crimson; Harvard defeated Cornell 18-9, and Yale, 17-10.

After Yale, Cornell will take on 3-0 Princeton in its final bout of the tournament. Although Princeton was No. 9 nationally at the start of the tournament — compared to No. 3 Harvard and No. 2 Columbia — the Tigers are currently ranked first in the tournament with an undefeated record.

“Princeton has a huge influx of amazing freshmen. The coach did an incredible recruiting job,” said senior Tasha Hall.

To beat Princeton and Yale, Cornell will look to its usual suspects: the fencers who have established themselves throughout the year.

In Saber, the freshmen duo Audrey Speer and Beverly Yang will lead the Red. Yang was the only Saber to finish the first day of competition with a .500 record or better.

Epee’s squad is composed almost entirely of senior fencers, including Hall, Sallie Dietrich and Katherine Thompson. Thompson and Hall were two of four Red fencers to finish with records of .500 or better after the first day of competition. Thompson, an all-Ivy fencer last year, finished the day at 5-4, while Hall was 4-4. Freshman Christie Robinson also impressed teammates and opponents alike with her 5-2 victory over NCAA runner-up Noam Mills.

The Foil squad has an all-Ivy hopeful in sophomore Rebecca Hirschfeld, who stands near the top of the Foil standings with a 9-3 record so far in the tournament.

“We’ve worked very hard with Rebecca because she can make it to All-Ivy, top six. Also, I hope our captain, Katherine Thompson, can make it as well,” Dolgikh said.

Senior Dana Baines has also been strong for the Red foil squad, picking up two wins against both Penn and Brown last week.

For Baines, Dietrich, Hall and Thompson, Sunday’s bouts will be the culmination of four years of fencing under Dolgikh. While some may continue to the NCAA Regional and NCAA Championships, none will fence again in a Cornell team competition.

As Hall said, “This is my last Ivy so I really want to go out with a bang. I’ll be fighting the hardest I have in all the years I’ve been here.

To Thompson, “The Ivy’s are the best tournament that we have against the strongest teams. It counts the most … everyone that’s on the team this year and in previous years has been wonderful. Being able to spend time with them is a really good way to end the season and four years.”

Original Author: Nathan Lowry