The Cornell Fencing team heads to Waltham, Massachusetts this weekend to compete in the Brandeis Invitational. The meet will include matches with Brandeis, Boston College, MIT, UNC, and No. 5 St. John’s University.
The team has not fenced a meet since the Vassar Invitational two weeks ago, where the Red was enormously successful and picked up seven of eight possible wins.
Cornell looks to build on those successes this Sunday while facing a more skilled group of opponents. In particular, Boston College and UNC should test the Big Red fencers.
“In the past [they] have been challenging but we’ve already improved a lot this year under Coach Daria,” said sabre squad captain Megan Buteau.
In general, the team is confident that it can put up a good showing, even against these tough schools.
“UNC is by far the hardest and will definitely be a fight, but I think we are completely capable of overpowering them if we really focus, work as a team, and keep the intensity up,” said foil squad captain Gabriella Zusin.
Although fencing is known as a highly individual sport, both Zusin and Buteau agree that positive team dynamics are essential to everyone’s success this weekend.
“In practice we’ve been working on keeping a focused, team-oriented mentality,” Buteau said. “We were able to keep up this mentality really well at Vassar which was a much longer meet so we should be able to do the same at Brandeis.”
The same team-oriented mentality served the foil squad well at Vassar. That weekend, foil was the only squad that was able to beat Northwestern.
“I was so proud of the teamwork exemplified by the girls at Vassar, and I definitely think we need to continue supporting each other at Brandeis,” Zusin said.
The tough competition this weekend is also an opportunity for each individual fencer to improve their chances of qualifying for the NCAA National Fencing Championships. Qualification is determined in large part by an individual’s power ranking — a ranking which is most significantly affected by winning bouts or touches against the country’s most competitive fencers.
“I personally am really looking forward to fencing this weekend because there are many individuals who are past NCAA championship participants and it is always fun fencing in a high level competition,” said senior Victoria Wines.
For individuals to keep improving and achieve these goals, the squad captains generally agree that the priority is developing the team’s culture and keeping every fencer motivated.
“Fencing is an individual sport but when you get to college it becomes a team sport,” Wines said. “I find it really important to try to keep all the team members motivated to work hard no matter how tough it gets in the tournament.”
With the combined effort of the squad captains and a lot of teamwork, the Red will likely be able to collect another handful of wins this weekend, even with difficult opposition.
“I fully believe that my team is stronger than ever and we will hopefully fence [well] this weekend,” Wines said.