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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Fencers rank no. 21 at NCAA finals

Published: March 28, 2014
Section: Sports

After sending three fencers to Ohio State University for the NCAA Championships March 20-23, Brandeis ranked 21st.

Adam Mandel ’15, Noah Berman ’15 and Caroline Mattos ’16 competed among 24 fencers in each of their respective weapons selected from Division I, II and III varsity programs throughout the country. The Judges qualified during the NCAA Regional tournament earlier in March, which sent fencers from colleges across the Northeast to the championships to meet competitors from the Mid-Atlantic/South, Midwest and Western regions. Mattos was fourth in women’s foil, Berman was 11th in men’s foil and Mandel was fifth in men’s saber.

Considering that the national tournament hosted most of American colleges’ best fencers, the Brandeis fencers knew that they were in for some tough competition. The tournament was formatted so that the fencers in each weapon fenced everyone, a total of 23 bouts per fencer, and wins and losses determined the winner. In some cases, it came down to the touch differentials, the numbers of touches a fencer scored minus those scored against them, to rank the fencers.

Pennsylvania State University stole the day as the top-ranking school. The best eight schools, a mix of Ivy League universities and athletic powerhouses, sent fencers from both genders for all weapons. Out of the 25 colleges at the competition, Brandeis scored 18 points, which earned the Judges 21st place.

Mattos and the women began the competition on Thursday. She came out with four wins and placed 24th overall, dropping one ranking from last year despite having won one more bout this time around.

Her big win on the first day was against Lee Kiefer, an Olympian who is now a sophomore at Notre Dame University. The Judge scored 5 to Kiefer’s 2, a solid victory. Mattos was one of only four fencers to outtouch Kiefer during the competition. Two of Mattos’ losses came down to the wire, ending with scores of 4-5. During her second day of the tournament, she secured three more victories, 5-4 against Kathryn Hawrot of Brown University, 5-3 against Mary McElwee of the United States Air Force Academy and 5-1 against Cassidy Seidl of the University of Pennsylvania.

Kiefer successfully defended her title as the NCAA Foil Champion, boasting a 19-4 record.

The men took to the strips on Saturday and Sunday. Starting first, Berman picked up five wins for a 5-18 record. His victories were over fencers from Princeton, UPenn, NJIT, New York University and St. John’s University. Berman started his first day on a strong note with a win against NYU’s Christian Vastola 5-0, and his second win later that day was 5-3 over Princeton’s Michael Dudley. Wins against UPenn’s Jason Chang 5-4, NJIT’s David Kong 5-4 and St. John’s Max Blitzer 5-4 came on Sunday, and Berman ranked 23rd.

Gerek Meinhardt of Notre Dame claimed the men’s foil champion title, with a 20-3 record.

Defending his 12th-place ranking from last year’s NCAA Championships, Mandel returned to the strips. His 9-12 record qualified him for 15th place, dropping three spots from his prior ranking, which had entitled him to All-American status. In five bouts, Mandel came up just short of a win, dropping each by a score of 4-5. Mandel’s first day of competition saw a 4-9 record, followed by day two’s record of 5-3. His strongest win was 5-1 over Yale’s Hugh O’Cinneide. The remaining wins were over fencers from San Diego, Yale, UPenn, NYU, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Columbia. With one or two more wins in his close bouts, Mandel may have ranked high enough to earn a second consecutive All-American bid.

The top male saberist was Penn State’s Kaito Street, who registered a 20-23 score.

With the post-season completed, the Brandeis fencers will not compete with the school until next fall, but the team will continue conditioning and individuals will continue to practice on a pick-up basis with teammates.