NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This Sunday, Feb. 21, the Yale
men’s fencing team will head up to Ithaca, N.Y., where
Cornell will host the first half of the Ivy League Championships.
Competition will begin at 11 a.m. and Yale will fence Columbia,
Harvard, Penn and Princeton. The championships are a two-day event,
and the second half will take place the following Sunday, hosted by
Penn in Philadelphia. The Bulldogs head into Ivy competition with
an 11-2 dual-meet record. The team will leave for Ithaca Saturday
at noon bringing 16 fencers along for the competition.
“This tournament is what we have been working towards all season,” said captain Andrew Holbrook. “Everyone has been putting in phenomenal effort at practice and we have become a better team for it. We have tremendous confidence in each other and the
fact that this weekend, everyone will perform their best. We have one goal: to win the Ivy League. I believe we can do it and every member of this team does also.”
The Bulldogs will be the only team to fence four opponents on Sunday, leaving only Brown for the following weekend at Penn. All other teams receive a bye, during one of the four timeslots scheduled for competition. However, Holbrook is undaunted by Yale’s demanding schedule.
“Some may look at the fact that we face four schools on the first day as a disadvantage,” he said. “I actually think it will work to our advantage and help us to establish a positive momentum and energy. Many of the team's best performances have come during long days and this weekend will be no exception.”
At last year’s Ivy Championships, Yale finished in fourth place, with a 1-4 Ivy record. The Elis’ only victory came against Harvard in the first day of competition. They fell in a close match against Princeton, and also lost to Penn, Columbia and Brown. Yale finished behind Penn, Columbia and Princeton—tied with Harvard and Brown for fourth place.
This year, the Bulldogs are looking to improve on last year’s performance. Though they have lost the services of last year’s captain, epeeist Michael Pearce ’09, the Elis have improved the overall strength of their team. The freshman class has been particularly pivotal in shoring up the Yale saber squad. Junior Olympian Nathaniel Benzimra, Colin Mills and William Zhao have each made important contributions to the Bulldog saber squad. Additionally, the Yale foil squad, which has proven itself as the best in the nation for the past two years running by winning the Little Iron Man trophy, has continued to perform as such this season. The foil squad has incredible depth, with seven competent foilists that can each fence at any time.
“This is without a doubt the strongest men’s fencing team that Yale has put together in at least ten years,” said Holbrook. “However, the rest of the Ivy League has improved as well, so we have our work cut out for us.”
With its improved and well-rounded team, Yale hopes to make an impact and compete for the Ivy League title this year.
11:00 Yale v. Columbia
1:15 Yale v. Harvard
3:00 Yale v. Penn
4:45 Yale v. Princeton
Report by Arsi Sefaj ’11, Yale Sports Publicity