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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Julian Cardillo reflects on fencing season

Published: March 30, 2012
Section: Sports

This past weekend foilist Julian Cardillo ’14 finished 19th out of 24 foil fencers at the NCAA Collegiate Fencing championships at Ohio State University.

Cardillo is currently majoring in politics with a minor in journalism. Aside from fencing, he is also involved with WBRS and BCLU.

Cardillo, who placed 17th in the championships last year, won seven of his 23 bouts, two fewer than last year. His best win came in the first round of action in which he beat Reggie Bentley of Notre Dame University, 5-2. Bentley finished the tournament in fifth place. Cardillo also defeated Shiv Kachru of Yale University, 5-3, who ended up finishing in seventh place.

“I think I fenced better this year I did last year,” Cardillo said. “I was more consistent this year. Last year I had a good first day but a bad last day. This tournament is always going to be close. I lost six matches by one point. I don’t really judge my performance by place. I feel like I could have done better. I need to learn how to close out matches that should be victories.

Cardillo competes in the foil, which is the weapon that fencings start out using. “I tried saber and epee, but foil just fits my personality best,” he said. “It’s not a slow tempo like epee or fast like saber. With foil, you can make your own pace and movements. I’ve grown up with the foil and I’ve been able to take it and add my own style.”

Fencing was a large part of the reason that Cardillo chose to attend Brandeis. “I started fencing when I was six because my older brother, who is nine years older, also did it,” Cardillo said. “I naturally followed in his footsteps. I knew Brandeis had a really good reputation as a school with a fencing program. My brother also went here, which was a contributing factor. [Additionally], I knew Brandeis had … Eileen McNamara as a professor; as an aspiring journalist I thought I could take advantage of that.”

As a competitor, Cardillo is always looking to improve. “Tactically, I’m always improving. I’m constantly looking at new techniques. There has been some natural progression from year to year.” In terms of next year, Cardillo mentioned, “It really just comes down to discipline, I just need to keep refining skills and take it to the next level.”

Coach William Shipman has also affected Cardillo’s development as a fencer.

“Coach Shipman is definitely very experienced. I respect him a lot. He’s been at Brandeis for a long time so I think that’s a testament to how good of a coach he is,” Cardillo said. “But at the same time, I’ve been with a different coach at my club team, Alex Ripa, since I was nine, so it’s hard to go back and forth between two coaches. I try to use [Shipman’s] tactical advice to improve my game. It’s been a pleasure the past two years to work with him.”

Cardillo continued, saying that the logical end of his time in fencing would be to make the Olympic team. “To make the Olympic team you have to be ranked high enough in the country to compete in the world cups and your performance there gets you into qualifiers. I’ve never been able to focus all of my time on fencing, but if I could I feel like I could make it there.”

Cardillo reflected though, “If I don’t make it, it’s fine, I’ve had the time of my life, traveling domestically and internationally to represent Brandeis. I just feel like going to the Olympics is a great next step.”

Cardillo was the only fencer at the championships this year; therefore, Brandeis only obtained seven points, which earned Brandeis a 23rd place finish out of 25 competing schools.

Cardillo said, “It was interesting being the sole representative of the team. I went with Alex Powell [’12] last year, and it was a terrific experience. The two us did an excellent job together. This year I was looking to go back there with someone. Mike Zook [’13] and Zoe Messinger [’13] came close and Powell missed the qualifiers due to illness.”

Cardillo continued saying, “It’s important to qualify as many people as possible for morale and, just from a numbers standpoint, the more people you have the better the school can do. If there were more representatives there, the finish for Brandeis could have been different.”

Throughout this year, the team improved steadily becoming more competitive with Division I schools as the season continued. Cardillo agreed saying, “This year was a huge transition year. We graduated a lot of seniors last year, but I think that was good because we needed to develop a new identity. You’ve basically taken six freshmen and you’re starting them. It takes a little while to develop a team’s mentality.

“That’s why this semester we came out better and improved. Everyone wants it. Everyone knows we can be a top-10 team in the country and I wouldn’t be shocked if in the next 10 years we are a top-10 team in the country. We have a lot of good recruits coming in [next year]. Just learning how to win and close out matches will go a long way.

“We’re a young team, but I like that. Everyone is improving and growing. [There’s] nowhere to go but up.”