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With Ivy League team play wrapped up for the academic year, the Crimson men and women’s fencing squads made their way to New Haven, Conn. to face some of the best competitors from the Northeast at the regional qualifier for the NCAA championships.
The men’s side sported a top-three finisher in each of the weapons, and women’s co-captain Adrienne Jarocki began her quest for her third saber individual championship crown with a second-place finish.
Despite coasting his way to the top seed out of the first set of pool play bouts, sophomore saber fencer Eli Dershwitz was not content with his initial performance.
“I started a little bit slow with two close bouts, so I just tried to stay focused throughout the day and make sure I was putting on my best performance [and] cheering on my teammates,” Dershwitz said.
By the end of the evening, Dershwitz had left little doubt as to why he had qualified for the United States Olympic team last year and is among the best saber fencers in the country. The sophomore thoroughly picked apart most of his opponents. His lone defeat came against second-place finisher and Columbia fencer Michael Costin in a 5-4 tally
Dershwitz finished with a 10-1 mark in the final pool, a plus-21 touch indicator, and the top spot.
Looking ahead, Dershwitz will aim both to repeat his appearance in the NCAA championship’s final four and improve upon his tied-for-third result his freshman campaign.
“I think I have to stay focused this time. My final bout my freshman year, I lost my focus a little bit and let my emotions get the better of me,” Dershwitz said. “I’ll try to stay strong throughout the entire [championship] tournament and see how it goes.”
Freshman foil fencers also burst onto the national stage for Harvard at the Northeast qualifier, with Matthew Branman and George Haglund nabbing second and third place, respectively, and Duncan Rheigans-Yoo taking fifth among 33 fencers. Branman rode a plus-18 indicator and eight bout wins to earn the stellar result, while Haglund was close behind with a 7-3 bout record in the final set of pool play bouts.
Co-captain Stephen Mageras finished eighth with a 4-6 record in the final pool play bouts to round out the Crimson foil fencers.
In epee, sophomore Albert Chien finished third out of 37 fencers and easily qualified for the NCAA championships. The vast improvement came just a year removed from a 10-13 record and an 11th-place result his freshman campaign at the same qualifying event.
As a team, the women’s side qualified 11 fencers for the NCAA championships, which topped last season’s mark. With the final NCAA championship team result reliant on the entire body of results for each squad, the double-digit competitors fencing for the Crimson in two weeks will be advantageous.
“Qualifying 11 puts us in a really good spot for NCAAs,” co-captain and foil fencer Liana Yamin said. “We showed a lot of endurance today—by the end of the day, when you’ve fenced 20 bouts, it’s tough to keep moving as fast as you’ve started, but we showed a lot of tenacity.”
Unsurprisingly, co-captain Adrienne Jarocki was at the front of the pack of Harvard fencers, finishing with a second-place mark thanks to a 9-2 final pool play record. St. Johns fencer Karolina Cieslar snagged the top spot after defeating Jarocki, 5-2, in a direct elimination bout after both fencers finished with nine wins in the final pool.
Sophomore Gabby Tartakovsky improved upon a 10th-place finish at last year’s regionals by fencing her way to the seventh spot, while freshman Marta Lasota finished 10th.
On the foil side, senior Hali Nelson turned in her best NCAA regional performance yet, winning eight bouts in the final pool play round to earn fourth place in the event. Junior Mackenzie Lawrence was not far behind with a sixth-place finish.
The two Crimson epee fencers—sophomores Sharon Ra and Shawn Wallace—finished ninth and 15th, respectively.
With the NCAA championships in South Bend, Ind., home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the ninth-ranked Crimson team has its work cut out if it hopes to dethrone any of the nation’s best for the national team title.
“It’s helpful to remember that each bout counts for the team,” Yamin said. “It’s so many bouts against the best fencers in the country, one right after the other. No matter what happens in each one, you have to drop it and prepare for the next one.”
—Staff writer Caleb Y. Lee can be reached at email@example.com.
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