Sabres Climb To New Heights At Regional
Women’s Squad Will Send Three to NCAAsBy Philip W. Miller
The MIT women’s sabre was the most deadly weapon at the Northeastern Regionals. On the strips, the deadliest blades belong to Regional Champion Caroline Purcell ’02. Purcell, along with two other Engineers finished in the top seven to qualify for NCAA Nationals this weekend at Stanford.
Fresh off her IFA title the week before, Purcell again showed her skill by winning the women’s sabre competition with a barraging victory over Marisa Mustilli of St. John’s (NY). Purcell is currently ranked eighth in the country, and won the 1999 Junior Pan Am Games in Brazil. This will be her first trip to NCAA Nationals, only because this is the first year that women’s Sabre is a NCAA sport.
While Caroline was the anchor of the women’s sabre squad, she was not their only strength. After a rough time in the round of fifteen, Caprice Gray ’00 squeaked into the finals. However, in finals competition she awoke with a vengeance, finishing fifth overall and earning her own spot at Stanford. Gray finished third in the New England Conference and won the 1999 Bay State Games.
Strong and steady, Jen McKeehan ’01 rounded out the sabrists with a 7th place finish overall, despite facing Purcell in nearly every pool. Unfortunately for Jen, the NCAA limits a team to sending only two competitors per weapon, but she certainly will be fired up for her chance next season.
The Men’s Sabre squad also built upon it’s strong season last Saturday, with Phil Miller ’01 earning his spot at Stanford. Ranked tenth in the seeding brackets, Miller showed flashes of brilliance and upset a number of higher ranked opponents. He finished eighth overall. Miller makes his first trip to NCAAs this weekend. He placed seventh at IFAs last year and was fifth in New England this year.
Neal Devaraj ’02 continued his rapid ascendancy to one of the best on the NCAA circuit by placing an impressive 9th in a tough field. Devaraj, who started fencing only when he got to MIT, has gotten better with every meet and beat a number of more experienced fencers to earn his spot as an alternate for Nationals.
Ranked 17th in the Junior standings in Britain before coming to MIT, Oliver Chadwick ’02 also claimed a spot as an alternate for men’s foil. Chadwick had a phenomenal year as he beat many of the best nationwide en route to a fourth seed at Regionals.
Another bright spot came from a relatively new epeeist, Cheng Pei ’03. Pei, who started fencing only last September, claimed a victory over the Columbia A strip on his way to a 2-2 record in his first pool. Cheng finished a heart breaking 16th, missing the cut by two touches.
In addition Sylvia Daniszewska ’00 capped her collegiate career with one of her strongest performances to finish 13th in women’s epee. Women’s Captain Dianne Allen ’01 finished 13th in the foil field.
“I think this demonstrates the strength of our program,” said Coach Jarek Koniusz.