Brandeis fencers primed for NCAA Regionals

Claim second-straight New England title; three bronzes at U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships


Caroline Mattos

In a final tune-up for next month’s NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, the Brandeis fencing teams competed this past weekend in the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championships and the United States Collegiate Squad Championships.

At the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championships at Mount Holyoke College on Feb. 22, Brandeis won the overall six-weapon title and the men’s three-weapon title for the second consecutive year. They also won the individual squad championships in the men’s sabre, men’s foil and women’s foil. The Brandeis women came in third in their three-weapon event.

The Judges beat Sacred Heart University, 163-158, to win the overall six-weapon meet. The men also defeated MIT, 74-68, in their three-weapon standings. In the women’s overall standings, three points separated the top three teams. Sacred Heart edged Boston College, 92-91, with Brandeis in third with 89 points.

In the individual weapons, the Judges topped Sacred Heart, 27-26 to win the men’s foil title. They beat MIT, 27-24, for the men’s sabre title. The men’s epee team, with 20 points, finished third behind MIT, 24 points, and Sacred Heart, 21 points. Brandeis women’s foil won their second-straight title, edging Dartmouth, 35-34. The Judges finished fifth in both women’s epee and sabre with 27 points apiece.

Brandeis’ top individual performances were in men’s sabre, with junior All-American Adam Mandel winning gold and classmate Jess Ochs-Willard winning silver, and men’s foil, with junior Noah Berman earning a silver medal in a tightly contested final.

Two other Brandeis fencers finished just out of the medal standings. Sophomore Ari Feingersch was fourth in the men’s epee while senior Vikki Nunley had the top finish for the women, placing fourth in the foil. In women’s epee, sophomore Gwen Mowell placed sixth overall, while freshman Nina Sayles was 10th in women’s sabre action.

The next day Brandeis sent the men’s sabre, men’s foil and women’s foil teams to the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Each team earned a bronze medal. Princeton University, fifth-ranked in the country, won all three events and University of Pennsylvania, seventh-ranked, finished second.

Using the same format as international team competition, each team of three or four fencers competed to reach 45 touches first, switching fencers whenever a pairing reached a multiple of five or when time runs out.

Mandel, Ochs-Willard and junior Ben Loft advanced to the medal round in men’s sabre with a relatively easy 45-24 win over New York University. They fell to Penn in the semifinals, 45-32, but rallied to defeat the University of North Carolina, 45-42, in the third-place match.

In the men’s foil competition, senior Julian Cardillo, freshman Len Grazian, junior Ethan Levy, and Berman cruised past NYU, 45-28, losing just one head-to-head match-up. Against Princeton in the semifinals, the Judges couldn’t quite overcome a couple of rounds in which they only scored one touch, falling to the Tigers, 45-37. The third-place match came down to Berman making the final touch as Brandeis beat Boston College, 45-44.

Nunley and sophomores Eva Ahmad, Annette Kim, and Caroline Mattos won their opening matchup in women’s foil against rival NYU, 45-42. They dropped the semifinal match to Penn, 45-22, but came back to beat North Carolina, 45-39, and win the bronze medal.

The fencers will compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships at Wellesley College on March 9 as they attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held on March 20 to 23 at the Ohio State University.

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