The Princeton fencing season came to a close two Sundays ago in Columbus, Ohio, at the NCAA Division I Championships. Summarizing the Tigers’ entire season would be a nearly impossible task, as fencing is broken down into three weapons and the men and women have separate teams, each with an individual component and a team component. However, the Princeton fencing season can only be characterized as astonishing.
“I’m very proud of my whole team, especially all the freshmen, who fenced very strong and beat some of the top NCAA fencers throughout the season,” junior épée Jack Hudson remarked.
The Tigers capped the season by finishing No. 4 at the NCAA Championships, marking the fifth straight year Princeton has finished in the top four. (Princeton is the only school ever to have achieved this feat.) Five straight top-four finishes is an incredible accomplishment for any school but is particularly impressive given the Princeton team’s relatively small size. The Tigers only have 23 fencers, while Columbia, Notre Dame College and Pennsylvania State University, the three schools that finished ahead of Princeton this year at the NCAAs have 45, 55 and 57 fencers respectively on their roster. Additionally, these schools are able to recruit some of the top fencers in the world, but what the Tigers lack in size and recruiting power, they make up for in hard work and dedication.
As junior épée Anna Van Brummen noted, “we went in with one less person, which means automatically 23 less points for your team, so for 11 people we did very well. Also, our freshman class was four people, while Columbia had around 18. We are simply not given nearly as many recruiting positions as nbso online casino reviews the other successful schools. Some of our squads don’t even have alternates, so if someone got injured we were pretty much screwed … Yes, there is taking home first place, but there is also doing your best with the situation presented to you, which is 100 percent what our team did.”
On the individual side, Isis Washington of St. John’s University edged out Van Brummen (who was competing in her first NCAA Championships) in her semifinal bout, 15-14. The match was never more than one touch apart.
“As usual being edged out sucks, especially by one point,” Van Brummen said. “In fencing, a point is scored in just a matter of seconds, so I find in all the 14-14 bouts that I end up losing, I just replay the last touch over and over in my head and think about everything I could have done differently, but didn"t. It"s almost easier when there is a larger score gap because then you know it was an issue with your fencing, which you can work on for next time, versus just luck. I actually fenced well and so did my opponent, so I am really not disheartened by my loss.”
Hudson also noted that “[Van Brummen’s] semifinal came down to an unlucky last touch that could have gone either way. The four-day competition is rough – especially on the girls this year since they had to cheer for us the first two days before fencing on the third and fourth day – so it was amazing that she was able to hold the mental and physical composure needed to make it to the final four.”
Hudson, whose NCAA individual run came to an end in the semis a year ago, advanced to the finals this year but in the end came up just short of winning the title, ultimately falling 15-11 to Jake Hoyle of Columbia.
“I wish I could’ve clinched the NCAA title,” Hudson said. “However, Jake Hoyle fenced very well all weekend and I couldn’t quite pull out a victory. However, I definitely noticed progress compared to last year. I felt like I was able to stay stronger mentally and physically throughout the competition, which is definitely needed in an event like épée where every touch counts.”
On the men"s team, Hudson finished second and sophomore Alex House finished eleventh in épée at NCAA Championships, freshman Thomas Dudey finished ninth in foil, and freshman Edward Chin and Peter Pak finished eighth and ninth in sabre, respectively. On the women"s team, Van Brummen finished third and junior Isabel Ford finished seventh in épée, sophomore Ashley Tsue finished tenth and senior Ambika Singh finished eighteenth in foil, and freshman Allison Lee finished seventh and junior Gracie Stone finished eighth in sabre.
With only one senior competing in the NCAA Championships this year, expect an older and more experienced Princeton fencing team to do even bigger things next year.