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Club fencing team performs well in first tournament

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 08:11

While Tufts students have recently been closely following NESCAC playoffs in a wide variety of fall sports, the Tufts Club Fencing Team quietly kicked off its 2012−2013 campaign this weekend. On Saturday, the team journeyed to Smith College in Northampton, Mass. to participate in the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC) 2012 Fall Invitational.

The Jumbos competed in all three fencing weapons — foil, epee and sabre — at the tournament. Foil attacks with the tip of the weapon and targets the torso, while epee uses a similar, but heavier weapon, to target the entire body. Sabre, though, is a slashing weapon that targets everything from the waist up, excluding the hands.

Although coach Louise Klann did not attend the tournament, the Tufts squad was ready to display its talents at the first tournament it has competed in since United States Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs (USACFC) National Championships in April.

“Going into the Invitational, we felt pretty strong,” foil captain Randy Tesser, a junior, said. “We achieved many of our preseason goals in practice, so spirits were high.”

The Jumbos placed highest in the Invitational’s epee competition, as epee captain Mark Eisenberg, a senior, finished at an impressive seventh out of 89 competitors. Eisenberg was thrilled that his yearlong preparation had paid off, given such a long hiatus since his last collegiate tournament.

“The Fall Invitational marked a terrific start to our tournament season, and it was great to see the competition we’ll be facing again later this winter and into the spring,” Eisenberg said. “Even without our coach being there with us, we came out strong and had a productive day.”

Also competing in epee were sophomore Robert Ruenes and junior Evan Moulson, who finished in 46th and 59th places, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Jumbos finished admirably in the tournament’s foil competition, as junior Carter Casey led the way for Tufts with a 33rd place finish. It was difficult for the majority of competing schools to place well in the Invitational’s foil competition, as eight of the top sixteen fencers, including the winner, came from fencing powerhouse Sacred Heart University. Tesser finished 58th for the Jumbos out of 79, with junior Taylor Malone coming in right behind in 59th. Following his performance, Tesser noted ways in which he would like to improve for future tournaments.

“I’m very proud of [Casey’s] performance, and while [Malone] and I had an off−day, sometimes you get placed in a tough pool,” Tesser said. “Personally, I’d like to work on internalizing the training I do so it’s more accessible when in a bout.”

In what came as the final event of Saturday’s Invitational, the Sabre competition marked a terrific end to the Jumbos’ experience in Northampton. Sabre captain Eli Kohlenberg, a junior, finished 11th overall for the Jumbos, with James Keifner and Derrick Kane coming in behind at 28th and 67th, respectively, out of 85. Eisenberg was very impressed with the performances of all sabre competitors, especially Kohlenberg.

“[Kohlenberg] had a great day, and it was unfortunate that he missed the top eight by a single point,” Eisenberg said. “His final bout was a nail biter, but we’re all still proud of his performance nonetheless.”

Although it is a club sport, the squad practices three times a week for two hours at a time, and players are also encouraged by captains and their coach to practice on their own at a local fencing club.

Above all, Tesser believes that with continued preparation, the team will only improve for future tournaments, which will take place in January and February following a return from winter break, plus the USACFC Nationals in April.

“In the heat of the moment, you’re running on adrenaline, so it’s important to learn to keep a sound mind,” Tesser said. “As a team, we’re getting techniques down well, and I definitely think we’ll be ready to incorporate our moves into competition bouts come January.”

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