This Wednesday, five members of Yale women's fencing will travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Notre Dame and Indiana Sports Corporation. They will compete in a field of the top 72 female collegiate fencers in the country on Saturday and Sunday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The Bulldogs have not qualified this many competitors in more than a decade, possibly even longer since women's saber was only first introduced to the collegiate circuit in 2000.
Team captain and senior epeeist Katherine Miller had a fantastic season, capped off with a third-place finish in the regional qualifier event. This will be Miller's second and final trip to NCAA Championships, an event that she calls almost absurdly difficult given the caliber of fencers. However, she's elated by the number of Bulldogs who qualified, which she views as a "triumph." She looks forward to the competition. "The beauty of fencing is that anything can happen in any given match, and I think we're all eager to keep showing everyone that Yale fencing is on the rise."
Two other seniors will join Miller at NCAA Championships, senior saber fencers Lillie Lainoff and Joanna Lew. This will be Lew's third time competing, and Lainoff's first. Lew is glad to spend her last fencing tournament with so many teammates, and looks forward to "pushing to break personal and team records as we compete in Indy." Lainoff is thrilled that her last collegiate tournament will also be her first NCAA Championships. "It's a perfect ending to my time as a member of Yale women's fencing."
Rounding out the five Yale qualifiers are sophomore and freshman foilists Sarah Pak and Anna Zhou. Both are first-time NCAA Championships competitors. Zhou believes "no matter how [the team] does at the end of they day, we will be happy for each other and proud of what we've accomplished." Pak echoes Zhou's sentiments, and also notes the significance of the event, for the first-time competitors as well as the seniors who will be competing in their last collegiate tournament. "No matter how we do this weekend, I know we'll still be cheering for each other like crazy (with our foam fingers of course) and fencing our hearts out. There's not really much more you could ask for."
Each event will consist of a 24-person round robin. Once the pool is complete, the top four finishers will fence in semi-final bouts to determine which two will compete for the individual title. Every round-robin victory will contribute a point to the team's overall score, which will be used to determine the national champions. Last year, the Bulldogs finished 17th in the combined men and women's team standings.
Live results can be found at: http://www.escrimeresults.com/tournaments/NCAA.html
A live feed of the semi-final and final bouts will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App. The championship bouts, as well as other select highlights will air on ESPNU at 2:30 p.m. on April 5.
Schedule of events
Saturday March 25
9:00 a.m. Women's Foil, rounds 1-3
11:00 a.m. Women's Epee, rounds 1-3
1:30 p.m. Women's Saber, rounds 1-3
Sunday March 26
9:00 a.m. Women's Foil, Epee, Saber, rounds 4-5
1:30 p.m. Women's Championship Bouts (in the order of epee, foil and saber)