March 22, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having qualified four fencers for this weekend's NCAA Championships -- the most in recent memory -- the Yale men's fencing team was able to turn in its best overall performance at the Championships in a long time. Captain Michael Pearce took eighth place nationally among all epeeists, a result which was good enough to make him a second-team All-American. Alexander Cohen, who also fenced epee at the Championships, came in 24th place. Meanwhile, freshman Shiv Kachru finished 10th among all foilists and received an Honorable Mention for the All-American team. Also fencing foil, junior John Gurrieri finished in 19th place. All of these individual performances were good enough to earn the Yale men's fencing team an overall 11th place finish at the Championships.
At the NCAA Championship, fencers initially compete in a round-robin style format of five-touch bouts. At the conclusion of the round-robin portion of the competition, the top four fencers in each weapon compete in 15-touch elimination matches for first, second and third place. Each victory earns a fencer one point for his or her school, and at the conclusion of the event, institutions are ranked according to the total number of points won by their student-athletes. Yale received 18 points in men's foil -- 12 victories for Kachru and six for Gurrieri -- and 17 points in men's epee -- 14 victories for Pearce and three for Cohen -- for a total of 35 points and 11th place among men's teams.
"I'm extremely happy with the men's results," said Pearce. "We qualified the greatest number of men in a long time and because of this we finished the highest we have in a long time. I am so proud of the way we fenced on a competitive level with the top fencers in the country and also how we cheered each other on as teammates."
Kachru echoed his sentiments, "Even though this was the toughest tournament of the year, we all fenced really well and supported each other as a team. The four of us all stuck together and helped each other, which I think boosted our overall performance."
The total score earned by the Yale men will be added to that accumulated by the Yale women in the final two days of the Championships. This sum will be Yale's overall score for the NCAA Fencing Championship and will be used to rank it among other institutions. Given that the Yale women's fencing team qualified three fencers, the Bulldogs are hopeful of possibly securing a spot in the top ten for Yale.
Individually, Pearce finished in the top eight in the country for the first time since his freshman year. Kachru turned in the best performance at the NCAA Championships by a Yale freshman since Pearce's performance during the 2006 season.
Of note is that Gurrieri had to battle through an arm injury in order to compete at this year's NCAA Championships.
Said Pearce, "John fenced well, especially given the fact that he injured his arm in the last weeks of the season. I know that in the off season he will heal, train, and be ready for next season and hopefully his fourth NCAAs."
Having come to the end of the season the Bulldogs are satisfied with the strides forward that they have made this year, and look to build on this progress in the future.
"Coaches [Henry] Harutunian and [Lukasz] Paluszczak watched and supported us all the way through, and helped all of us push through the close bouts," said Kachru. "Overall, I'm really proud of the way that everyone fenced, and I believe this performance has given us something to build next year's season on."
Meanwhile, Captain Michael Pearce finishes his great Yale fencing career with these comments: "This whole season was exceptional because of the dedication and enthusiasm of all team members. Finally, I want to thank the coaches for their amazing support and team manager Andrew Holbrook for his great organizational prowess and dedication to making everything great for the fencers."
Full results from the NCAA Championship can be found here.
More information about the NCAA Fencing Championships can be found here. Highlights from the competition will be shown on CBS at 1 p.m. Eastern time, Saturday, May 2.
Report by Arsi Sefaj '11, Yale Sports Publicity