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W. fencing tops Columbia, St. John's

Punxsutawney Phil may have recently seen his shadow, indicating six more weeks of dark winter days. For the men's and women's fencing teams, however, the future seems much brighter — as success this weekend in New York has moved both Princeton teams closer to capturing Ivy League titles.

While both the men's (9-3 overall, 2-0 Ivy League) and the women's (10-2, 2-0) teams easily defeated Ivy rival Columbia Saturday in New York, only the female Tigers managed to emerge victorious against St. John's, 14-13.

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Expecting a bigger challenge from the Lions, the Princeton women, undefeated in the Ivy League, had no trouble beating Columbia, 21-6.

"I was pretty nervous heading into the meet because I knew the strength of the Columbia fencers," freshman foil Eva Petschnigg said. "Columbia is probably the toughest competition next to Yale."

However, there was no stopping an undefeated Petschnigg, nor any of the female Tigers, as they earned a quick win over the Lions.

"We ended up beating Columbia in the first bout of the second round which was really amazing," junior captain Lisa Leslie said. "A lot of that can be attributed to our sabre squad."

That group, led by senior Nicole Polanichka, junior Alexa Chew and freshman Ibby Caputo, went 9-0 against the Lions. They faced a much bigger challenge from fencing powerhouse St. John's, which boasts a former national champion. Not only were the Red Storm sabres strong fencers, but St. John's epee squad was equally talented.

"Winning against Columbia also had a strong impact [psychologically] on how we did against St. John's," Petschnigg said. "I really didn't expect to win that meet. I think that the fact that the foil squad was fencing so well against Columbia and St. John's definitely inspired the other squads."

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Princeton's ladies may not have felt the nerves which tend to come with Ivy matches, but the Tigers stepped up to the challenge posed by the Red Storm.

Sophomore epees Lindsay Campbell and Mary Dunlap gave Princeton two huge wins as they unexpectedly defeated a pair of St John's phenoms.

"The meets this weekend really proved how much spirit and will to win we have," Leslie said. "I think that we are in an excellent position right now to capture the Ivy title."

The men's team also has hopes of recapturing the Ivy title. Princeton's 14-13 loss to St. John's this weekend signals, however, that such a feat will require more endurance from the team.

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"If we win the next three meets, we recapture the Ivy League title and that has been our goal all year long," senior captain Jason Burrell said. "Penn is going to be our toughest league competition. I expect it to go down to the wire and hopefully we'll be able to pull it off."

Much like the women's team, the male Tigers went down to the wire against St. John's, but were not able to come out on top. Princeton entered the match against the Red Storm coming off a convincing 18-9 win over Columbia.

Although the easy win over the Lions gave the Tigers a confidence boost, that was not enough to lift the Princeton men over the Red Storm.

Freshmen sabres Dan Pratt and Jim Wallen and junior squad leader Terry Kim turned out strong finishes as they defeated St. John's, 7-2. Despite successful performances from a young and talented sabre squad, the men came away with a 1-1 record for the weekend.

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