STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – On Saturday and Sunday, the Yale women's fencing team took part in the Penn State Open, in State College, Pa. The two-day individual tournament was the Bulldogs' first live competition of the season, and gave them a chance to assess their standing at this point in the year. Captain Madeline Oliver finished in the Top 16 in saber and sophomore Robyn Shaffer finished in the Top 24 in epee.
Given that the team is in the midst of rebuilding and training some new fencers, the Penn State Open provided a much-needed opportunity to get some real experience for the Bulldogs. Yale sent three saberists, five epeeists and two foilists to the tournament. Each fencer had to progress through three pools before reaching the direct elimination stage. Of the ten Yale fencers, only Oliver and Shaffer made it out of the first round.
"Unfortunately the two freshmen who are learning saber didn't make it out of their pool," said Oliver. "but the tournament was useful in getting them some competition experience. Their positive attitude and eagerness to work hard was evidenced once again this weekend."
Oliver made it out of pool play and into the direct elimination round. However, a tough draw on her first bout forced her into an early exit. Though she had to settle for 16th place—the same finish she enjoyed in last year's Penn State Open—Oliver fenced very well overall during the tournament. Meanwhile, Shaffer reached the third round of competition before finishing in the Top 24.
"This weekend's tournament was a great bonding experience for the team," said Oliver. "It was a learning experience for the freshmen and a good experience for the upperclassmen to get back into the competitive spirit."
Yale will fence next at the Brandeis Invitational on Dec. 5.
Report By Arsi Sefaj '11, Yale Sports Publicity