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Men's fencing comes through in IFA Championships; women fifth

Epee had done it. Foil had done it. In the 73-year history of fencing at Princeton, only the men's sabre squad lacked a team title at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championship. In Cambridge, Mass., Saturday, the sabre squad captured that title that had alluded it for so long.

The victory of the sabre squad coupled with an epee championship and third-place finish by the foil squad gave Princeton the IFA team championship.

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"We did really well," senior sabre captain Graham Brooks said. "It was definitely one of our best showings ever."

Tradition

The IFAs are one of the oldest competitions in collegiate fencing and aside from bringing together some of the strongest teams in the nation to compete, it is also a test of a team on three different levels. On the first day, each school fences as a team and epee, sabre, foil as well as overall team titles are determined. Fencers compete for individual titles in each sword the second day.

Besides winning the sabre title, the Tigers also set the goal of winning the combined men's and women's title. The trophy for the combined championship was donated by Princeton and the Tigers wanted to bring it back home.

The women's epee team finished third and the foil squad eighth to lead the women's team to a disappointing fifth-place team finish. The women's fifth-place performance, combined with the the men's victory placed Princeton third in the overall team competition.

"We were hoping to take second or first," said sophomore foil Nicole Polanichka in reference to the combined team title. "But when we saw the strength of the competition, third was good."

Dual test

The IFAs are a test of skill as well as endurance. Each of the fourteen teams fences each other for a total of 13 matches over 12 hours of competition. The men's team did not lose any of its 13 individual team matches. This is especially significant in that it defeated both Columbia and St. John's, two of the nations' top teams and the only teams to defeat Princeton this season.

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"Everyone just fenced really well," Brooks said. "It was very tiring and we were very much up to the physical demands. We were able to pick up all the crucial bouts."

The test of endurance continued for the many Princeton fencers that qualified for the individual competition on the second day. Three fencers represented the women's team while the men captured nine spots, the maximum for an individual team.

The men's sabre squad continued to shine Sunday with Brooks capturing third, the highest position earned by a Princetonian. He was followed by juniors Igor Liskovets and Max Pekerev, who finished fifth and seventh, respectively.

Sophomore Steven Wang led the way in epee with a fourth-place finish and freshman Peter Rosen had the best finish in foil with eighth place. Freshmen dominated on the women's side as well, with Matilde Acerra and Kristina Hurme fifth and ninth, respectively, in the epee sword, and Lisa Leslie tenth in foil.

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The season continues next weekend at the NCAA Regionals at James Madison University. All 12 men's starters should qualify and many members of the women's team should as well.

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