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Fencers Fall to Strong Pool of Competitors at IFA

By Wendy Yu

MIT hosted the annual Intercollegiate Fencing Association Men's and Women's Championships this weekend. The IFA, established in 1894, is the oldest tournament of its kind in the United States. The tournament included several Ivy League schools as well as Brandeis, Boston College, Rutgers, New York University, St. John's, and MIT. Most of the schools are Division I.

The women's fencing division is divided into two weapons: foil and epee. The men's division is divided into three weapons: foil, epee, and sabre. At the start of the tournament, each school divides their women's team into four levels of ability ranging from A through D, and their men's team into three skill levels. Fencers in each skill level competed with each other in round robin competitions. Also, the top eight individual performers from each pool advanced to Sunday's round of competition.

Nora Szasz '99, who fenced with the epee in the A pool, was the only competitor from either team to advance to Sunday's individual competition. She finished the opening round with a 75 record, a tremendous accomplishment given the calibre of the competition.

The MIT women's team placed eighth out of twelve teams and the men's squad finished last in their pool of eleven teams.

"There was a lot of tough competition at the IFAs. Many of the fencers there were nationally and world ranked," said Aimee Wiltz '99, captain of the women's team.

Matt DuPlessie '99, captain of the men's team said that the team wanted to do better than it did, but called the game "a learning experience." "It's an honor to participate in the IFAs with the caliber of fencers that were there," he said. DuPlessie pointed out that both the men's and women's teams placed second at the New England Fencing Champion-ships that took place recently.

This is the second time in three years that MIT has hosted the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships. Both fencing teams will head to the NCAA regionals Saturday. The top two fencers from each of the three weapons of the men's team qualified for the regionals. On the women's side, the entire starting squad for both the foil and epee have also qualified for the NCAA regionals.

Shao-Fei Moy contributed to the reporting of this story.