By SYDNEY ALTSCHULER
The Cornell fencing team will travel to Providence, R.I. to compete in the Ivy League Championships this weekend. The Red holds a 14-4 record going into the Round-Robins, with three of the four losses accounted for by Top-10 teams. In light of its recent success, the team hopes to capitalize on this positive momentum entering Ivys.
Cornell aims to make a name for itself this year among the top contenders for the Ivy championship title. Last year, the squad went 2-4 in conference play, tallying three losses on the first day to Princeton, Harvard and Brown, and then rallying the following day to rack up two wins against Penn and Yale. The Red could not find the equalizer in its contest against Columbia and lost, 20-7, to close the weekend. This year, the squad hopes to clinch tight bouts and steal the crown from Princeton, which earned it in 2013.
The tournament will pose a challenge for the Red as the squad matches up against all the Ivy League powerhouses, with the exception of Dartmouth, which does not have a women’s team. Harvard, Princeton and Columbia, all sitting at the top of the national rankings, will be competing.
All five of Harvard’s NCAA national qualifiers will return for the Ivies, led by 2011 national champion Alex Kiefer. The Crimson’s Emma Vaggo is another fencer to watch if her 16-2 epee performance at the Round-Robins last year, earning her All-Ivy status, is any indication of what she has in store for 2014.
No. 1 Princeton has swept the competition this season and currently holds a perfect 21-0 record after securing 13 wins at the Northwestern Duals this past
weekend. The Tigers have claimed the last four Ivy titles consecutively and hold a 25-match winning streak at the Round-Robin.
Similarly, Columbia has seen great success this season with notable wins against Harvard, Notre Dame and Penn State and may carry that momentum into Ivy play this weekend. The Lions’ Jackie Dubrovich returns this season after finishing second nationally in women’s foil.
Despite the guarantee of strong competition, Cornell feels prepared and to take on these opponents. According to junior Olivia Weller, the squad believes the key to success is going in with the right attitude.
“This is my favorite competition of the year because you get to fence with some of the best people in the country. … Anyone can beat anyone else on any given day, so it is important that we go in determined to fight for every bout,” she said.
Senior April Whitney said that the best will take on the best this weekend, and the Red must remain composed and disciplined to gain the edge over the competition.
“To be honest, it has less to do with our competitor and more to do with our mindset. All of the Ivies have powerful teams — some of them have Olympians — and each bout is going to be a challenge in itself,” she said. “We will need to rise to the challenge and stay mentally strong throughout the two-day event.”