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Fencing Teams Show Strength Against Division I Competition

By Evangelos Efstathiou
Team Member

Last weekend, the women's fencing team held its own against some of the top Division I schools in the nation, including the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina and New York University. Though three out of the four schools are outside of MIT's region, the team competes against them to gain experience and to provide individuals with opportunities to improve their regional records.

The foil and epee squads began the day with a round against Penn in which both squads fenced solid bouts. On the foil side, starters Oriana Hunter '99, Dianne Allen '01, and Aimee Wiltz '99 contributed wins. For the epees, Nora Szasz '99 and Jessica Sandland '99 led in wins against the school. Despite this, the strong Penn team prevailed and won the round. Following two byes, the women faced up against Northwestern.

While the epee squad was able to win several tough bouts, the foil squad had a more difficult time in bringing up the total of wins. The charging attacks of the Northwestern foil squad proved hard to defend against and the MIT women foilists could not set up their own offensives. Eventually, Northwestern won the round 124.

The next round placed MIT against UNC, with the women rallying for an overall win. In the match-up with UNC, both epee and foil squads worked hard towards a team victory. The epeeists finished early with a 97 win. After three rotations, the women foilists had five victories and needed two more to secure a tie and possible win on indicators.

During the last rotation, MIT's foilists were able to post only one of the needed bouts for the closest loss of the day. At the end of the long competition, the women's team fenced against a competitive and experienced NYU team. Fatigue showed for both teams in the longer bouts and closer scores. In the end, the foil squad posted eight wins against the NYU team for a tie in number of bouts and a squad win on indicators. The epee squad had more difficulty with their competition and fought hard for wins against the tough NYU squad. The NYU team was able to defend themselves against the onslaught and won.

Though the women fencers were unable to reach a team victory, team captain Wiltz said of the women's performance, "This is definitely the best we have done against these schools since I've been at MIT. I was really proud of the way the foilists and epeeists fought for wins against such tough competition."

Individuals were able to finish with winning records on the foil and epee squads. Both Szasz and Wiltz had matching records of 10 wins and six losses, while Sandland finished close behind with a solid performance.

Wiltz, Hunter, Allen, Beth Manoogian '99 and Danielle Morse '02 competed for the women's foil squad on sunday. Szasz, Sandland, Sylwia Daniszewska '00, and Elizabeth Shin '02 competed for epee. The women will not compete for the next two weekends and will fence in the New England Championships at the end of February.

The men's fencing team had a strong showing to end their regular season competition with a 145 record overall, one of the best performances since the 1980 NCAA Bronze medal winning team. The competition began with a loss to top ranked Penn despite a strong showing by sabre squad leader Brian Bower '99. Bower defeated last year's NCAA silver medalist Michael Golia by a score of 51.

The second team that the men's team faced was Duke University;. Strong performances from all three squads pulled the engineers within two bouts of victory. The Engineers unfortunately dropped the match 1512.

After the men's team had a bye, they were able to gain some momentum.Team captain Evangelos Efstathiou '00 rallied the squad by winning three straight and finish the day with on a high note.

The men began by defeating Yeshiva, and then took on UNC, defeating them soundly. Curtis Wade III '01 and Mike Krypel '01, men's epeeists, had strong performances, and the sabre squad finished 63.

The biggest challenge of the day for the engineers was competing against NYU. Amazing individual performances bolstered the MIT team throughout the match. The men's epee squad leader Matt DuPlessie '99 swept three heated bouts against top ranked fencers in the country, and epee finished with a 45 record. The sabre fencers Phil Miller '01 and Evan Efstathiou also swept their bouts, finishing 63 combined. In the end, the foil squad needed to win two of the last three bouts, without squad leader Andre Van Horn '01, who had fenced earlier in the day. Oliver Chadwick '02, despite injuries, managed a victory, and in the final bout of the day Ali Ibrahim pulled an incredible upset to give MIT a 1413 team victory.

The men's team will be fencing in the New England and IFA championships the next two weeks, followed by NCAAs.