NEW HAVEN, Conn. —The Yale women's fencing team will travel University Park, Pa., for the Garret Penn State Open this Saturday for their first competition of the season. The women will face a number of highly ranked schools from last year's NCAA Championships, including fifth-place finisher, Penn State.
Team manager and junior saber Lillie Lainoff said that the Garret Open functions well as an introductory meet because the results do not count toward the team's record, so it is a good opportunity for the team to test its strength in a competitive atmosphere.
The structure of the event will allow the team to measure both individual and collective skill: each team member will compete in the initial round of pools, then based on their results, will continue fencing in pools until the top 16 competitors fence in a direct elimination bracket.
In addition, the Garret Open is the only collegiate competition this season where individuals are first seeded by their United States Fencing Association ranking—this ranking is determined by competitions such as North American Cups, World Cups, National Championships and other non-NCAA competitions.
And while the team has only been together training together for about a month, team members are already excited and impressed with the team dynamic and strong leadership.
"The team is the smallest it's been in recent memory, and the smallest since the beginning of Yale fencing rosters incorporation into the website in 2007," Lainoff said. "The team itself, therefore, almost operates like its own squad - because it is small, we know each other better and on the whole the team is more tightly-knit."
She added that the structure of practice has shifted slightly since last year in order to accomodate and strengthen the current individual athletes and team ethos. One notable change is the incorporation of more more squad-based footwork into the routine.
As the team heads off this weekend, they will introduce freshmen Lucy Friedmann, Alice Oh, Sarah Pak and Jenny Zhao onto the collegiate circuit. After the Bulldogs, old and new, warm up at Penn State, they are set to compete at the Brandeis Invitational in Waltham, Mass., on December 6.
Report filed by Caroline Hart '17, Yale Sports Publicity.