Cross Grabs Second Title

Alexandra C. Bell

She helped the Harvard women’s fencing team to its second consecutive Ivy title, and now Emily Cross has collected a second straight individual glory, with her victory in this year’s World Junior Fencing Championship in Taebacek City, South Korea, yesterday.

Cross, despite a tenth place ranking after the preliminary qualifications, soundly quashed opponent Arianna Errigo of Italy 15-5 and win the gold in Women’s Foil.

“Obviously that is a harder road to travel,” said Harvard Fencing Coach Peter Brand of Cross’s relatively low opening seeding. “Initially when I saw that I was concerned, but she came through like the trooper that she is.”

Cross fenced Errigo in the finals of last year’s World Championships as well, but her margin of victory yesterday was much more secure than that of her tense 15-14 win in the previous title match.

“She destroyed her competition, winning the gold medal bout by a resounding score,” said Anne Austin, co-captain of the Women’s Fencing team.

“It is very hard to repeat,” Brand said. “A lot of the people she fences at that level are already professionals, so it’s quite remarkable.”

This is not only Cross’s second consecutive win at the World Junior Championships but her third World Champion title in four years, a feat that has never been achieved by anyone else in the age group, according to Brand.

He commented on the reasons for her success:

“I think that is the 64 thousand

dollar question,” he said. “Emily is a phenomenal person, with tremendous desire and determination. She sets her sights very high and works very hard to accomplish all these things.”

“I think that is one of the things that happens when you come to Harvard,” Brand added. “No matter whether you’re in a perceived minority sport, or a football player, or a virtuoso violinist, no matter what you do, you always get the resources and support you need to excel, and I place that directly at the feet of Larry Summers and the administration and the Harvard Athletics Department.”

This was Cross’s last year competing at the junior level, as from next year onwards she will be over 20 and so will instead need to enter the Senior Championships. But Austin does not see that as stopping her.

“Emily has consistently earned her success; she has always struck me as one of the hardest workers in the sport,” she said. “She’s driven by both her intense competitive edge, but also her love for fencing. While many people burn out after fencing as long and as competitively as Emily has, she’s willing to keep pushing herself because of her love of the sport. She’s clearly Olympic material.”

Harvard men’s fencers Benji Ungar and Teddy Sherrill are also competing in the Junior World Championships in today’s epee event.

—Staff writer Alexandra C. Bell can be reached at acbell@fas.harvard.edu.

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