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Men take teams, individual honors

By Martin Dickau

The silence that had fallen over the ring of spectators was absolute. The ticking of the timekeeper's clock could be heard 10 feet away. The next touch would decide the foil title in the men's New England Fencing Championships Saturday.

Teams had come from all over New England only to fall like wheat before the flashing blades of host MIT, as coach Eric Sollee's men captured the overall team title, all three weapon titles, and two of the three individual titles.

The foil squad also walked away with the Silvio Vitale trophy for the weapon team with the best record. The team of Russell Holtz '85 and Mitch Messer '85 dropped only one of 26 bouts during the team competition.

Nearly 11 hours of fencing had come down to two former New England foil champions embroiled in a "barrage," or fence-off, for first place.

Saechin Kim '86 and Darryl Toney '87 had earlier put in a surprisingly strong showing in sabre, taking first place in that weapon.

Kim and Toney both advanced to the individual finals, where Kim placed second and Toney fourth.

The two teammates faced each other as they had in practice so many times over the last four years. Both fence left-handed.

New England 'ep'ee champion Alan Williams '85 combined with Rex Kochanski '85 for first place.

Williams went on to take the individual title, with Kochanski right behind in second.

Sollee was particularly pleased with Kochanski, Kim, and Toney, all three of whom first began fencing in his physical education classes.

The crowd, which had cheered each previous touch, held its collective breath, unable to choose one MIT foilist as favorite over the other.

Holtz went undefeated and Messer lost only one of his bouts, as foil easily dominated.

The two former New England champions met in the first bout of the finals, and Messer came away the victor. The defending New England champion lost a bout, however, setting up the final fence-off between the two teammates.

The remaining fencers, directors, and support personnel gathered around the strip to watch.

Holtz and Messer assumed the en garde position, and the director called out, "Fence."

The crowd was unwilling to root for Holtz or Messer, so it cheered every touch and shouted encouragement to the one scored against. At 4-4, however, the cheering stopped.

The two sparred briefly. An arm moved. A point made contact. The red light on the scorer's table went on. The crowd paused as if willing the superb display of fencing skill to continue.

The director's word "bout" broke the spell, and a cheer went up for Holtz, who had reclaimed the New England foil crown by a single touch.