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A Mixed Decision For Fencing Teams

By Evan Efstathiou


Last weekend MIT fencing reclaimed one title and relinquished another in a thrilling Men’s and Women’s New England Championships at Smith College.

MIT took the New England title for best men’s and women’s combined teams ahead of Brown, BC, and Tufts.

In their first championship event of the postseason, MIT women shined with 69 wins to pull ahead Brown and University New Hampshire to retake the New England title, their third title in four years.

Women’s fencing finished the season at a near-perfect 18-3, dropping by mere touches to Duke, Cornell and Harvard during the regular season. The men’s team matched their 1999 season record of 14-5, inspired by victories over rivals including Harvard for the third consecutive year and an upset over Duke at the MIT Invitational.

Women succeed in individuals

The women reigned in the individual finals, led by returning New England champions Caroline M. Purcell ’02 and Dianne K. Allen ’01, and by a solid performance by newcomer Clarissa Y. Smith ’04.

Purcell finished the day 11-0 in the team event and 8-0 in the finals. Purcell is now undefeated at New Englands for the last two years.

Jennifer A. McKeehan ’01 and Priscilla del Castillo ’04 followed closely behind Purcell, qualifying to the finals and finishing third and fourth, respectively.

In the foil finals were Dianne K. Allen ’01 and veteran Jade Joan Hon ’01. Hon had overcame injuries during the season and rallied her teammates to victory in the team event. Hon beat out opponents from UNH, UMass, BC, and Brown to take third in the finals and earn the MIT straight “T” distinction in her final year of fencing.

The biggest surprise of the day was Smith, who squeaked into the finals with a 5-5 record at the A strip. Once there, Smith blazed through her opponents to finish 7-1 and tied for first with 2000 All-American Sarah Hobstetter. For the tie-breaker, the epeeist faced Hobstetter for the third time that day and went touch for touch in the bout, taking a 4-3 lead before dropping the last two touches to place second.

Also in the epee finals was Jennifer A. Lue ’03, who finished fifth.

Men fall to Brown in tiebreaker

The MIT men, fresh off two consecutive championship titles, finished the day in a dead tie with Brown University at 60 wins. Under a new tie-breaking format, the top MIT sabre, foil, and epee fencers had to face off against the top three fencers from Brown.

Leading the way was Philip W. Miller ’01, who trounced the sabre champion from the finals in a decisive 5-2 bout.

Oliver J. Chadwick ’02, last year’s New England foil champion, dropped the foil bout 5-3, leaving the teams tied at 1-1 with epee left.

Southpaw Neal K. Devaraj ’02 faced Mark Dembitz in a heated battle that ended at a score of 4-3 as time expired. The win gave Brown the win.

Men take third places in individuals

The men had a tougher time with the Individual Finals, as fencers from each of the three weapons managed third place finishes behind fencers from Brown and Boston College.

Chadwick, last year’s foil champion, finished third, with Andre D. Van Horn ’01 sixth.

In sabre, Richard D. Burstein ’02 continued to excel in post-season competition following last year’s IFAs, defeating teammate Miller and placing third overall. Miller finished fourth.

Brown continued to dominate men’s epee, finishing 1-2, followed by Devaraj in third and Paul J. Thordarson ’01 in fifth.

Men’s epee and sabre saw 1-2 finishes in the second string competition, as Matthew R. Levy ’04 (epee) and Anthony P. Reinen ’03 (sabre) took gold ahead of teammates Brendan P. Miller ’02 and Arjun R. Narayanswamy ’02.

Leading the way in foil was Douglas J. Quattrochi ’04 in second, followed by Timothy R. Kreider ’04 in 4th.

On the women’s side, Michelle A. Nadermann ’03 captured the gold in epee and Lisa M. Bell ’04 silvered in foil. Both Rayka Yokoo ’02 (foil) and Sasha R. Manoosingh ’03 (sabre) finished fifth.

This weekend MIT fencers will face their best-in-class rivals at the IFA Championships, held at Harvard University’s Gorman Track and Tennis Center on Saturday and Sunday. IFAs, one of the most challenging collegiate fencing competitions in the nation, sets MIT against 13 schools, including top 10 ranked Princeton, Yale, Columbia, St. John’s, and UPenn, along with local rivals BC, Brandeis, and Brown. This post-season matchup is a precursor to the NCAA Northeastern Regionals on March 11th, from which fencers are selected to go on to the Division I National Championships.