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Fencing Squad Starts Off Season Well at the Big One Tournament

By Evangelos Efstathiou

The MIT men's and women's fencing teams began their season Nov. 7 at the Big One, a New England intercollegiate invitational tournament. In attendance were NCAA Division I powerhouses Boston College, Brown University and Brandeis University, along with non-NCAA schools Tufts University, University of New Hampshire, Boston University, Dartmouth College, University of Massachusetts and Wellesley College.

Individual competitions were held in each of the six weapons, men's and women's foil, epee and sabre. Fencers competed in round robin pools of six or seven fencers, with those results used to seed a direct elimination table. Although the Engineers faced formidable competition, they had overwhelming success, capturing three golds, a silver, a bronze, and placed five other fencers in the final eight.

The men's sabre team turned in an outstanding performance. Brian Bower '99, Evangelos Efstathiou '00, Allen Chen '00, Phil Miller '01 and Rafael Bras '02 all advanced to the round of 16. Unfortunate seedings paired Bower against Miller and Chen against Efstathiou in that round, with Bower, Efstathiou and Bras advancing to the final. Again, seedings did not favor MIT, as Efstathiou was paired against Bras in the quarterfinals. In the semifinal round, Bower defeated Brandeis' top two fencers to earn first place, while Efstathiou finished fourth.

The first women's sabre competition in the history of the Big One was held this year. MIT's representation in the field of 24 fencers consisted of Kit Lennox '02 and Caroline Purcell '02. Lennox, having fenced for only a month, turned in an outstanding performance, placing 14th. Purcell, the 1997 US Women's National Champion, easily swept through the competition to take first place.

In women's epee Nora Szasz '99, defending New England Champion, ruled the day. After dropping one bout in her pool, Szasz won five successive direct elimination bouts to earn first place. Sara Perry '99 advanced to the round of 16, while Sylwia Daniszewska '01 lost in the round of 32. Amy Chou '02 and Natalie Cusano '02 were eliminated in the round of 64.

Men's foil was the most dominant squad of the day, with four members making the finals. Ali Ibrahim '01, who did not surrender a touch in the pool, Ben Vandiver '00 and Ruben Brown '99 finished sixth through eighth respectively. Newcomer Oliver Chadwick '02 advanced to the semifinals before losing to a difficult Brandeis opponent and ended up finishing third. Andre Van Horn '01, who faced teammate Chadwick in the round of 16, finished 12th.

In women's foil, team captain Aimee Wiltz '99 took second place. Oriana Hunter '99 placed 9th, while Joan Hon '01 went out in the 32 and Danielle Morse '02 and Rayka Yokoo '02 fell in the 64.

Men's epeeists Matt Duplessie '99 and Paul Thordarson '01 advanced to the round of 16, while Tom Baker '00, Curtis Wade '01 and Mike Krypel '01 all went out in the 32.

MIT competes in it's first series of dual meets this Saturday, facing conference teams Tufts, Dartmouth, Bates and Brandeis.