The 9-1 Harvard women's fencing team finished fourth in the New England Championships for the second consecutive year yesterday at Boston College and qualified for the national collegiate championships to be held in Philadelphia in late April.
Senior Debbie Sze led the Crimson, winning nine of her 12 bouts in the preliminary rounds, then taking two of six duels in the final round to finish fifth individually. After losing her first bout in the eliminations to a fencer from the University of Maine she vanquished Yale's Ina Peacock to even her record at 1-1.
She then lost three straight bouts, the last two by one point as the fatigue resulting from waking at 6 a.m. and fencing 15 bouts overcame her. Sze did finish in fine style, recovering from a 4-1 deficit in her last bout to win 5-4.
Jenny Laforet, fencing varsity for the first time due to an injury to Leslie Feder, also captured nine of 12 bouts in the preliminary rounds and missed qualifying for the elimination rounds by one win.
Sophomore Laforet fenced perfectly in the second round as she lost only 11 touches in four victories. Laforet, adrenalin flowing in her first varsity opportunity, fenced with intensity throughout and took advantage as others tired. She lunged effectively and quickly, using every inch of her 5-ft., 2-in. frame to reach her opponents.
Kathy Lowry, casting aside the cane she has been walking with for two weeks, bravely fought to victory in eight of her 12 duels, suffering with her injured knee.
Captain Nancy Cooper had a disappointing day, inexplicably falling in seven of 12 bouts. Four times on the day she lost 5-4 bouts, once after being ahead 4-2, and another time after fighting her way back from a 4-2 deficit.
Cooper admitted being drained and tired of fencing towards the end of the day and she battled without her customary toughness as she lost three of her last four bouts. A more typical performance by Cooper in the nationals just might leave the Crimson near the top of the U.S. women's fencing heap.