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Fencing prepares for new season

Published: October 26, 2007
Section: Sports


After finishing last season first among Division III schools at the NCAA tournament, as well as claiming the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Championships, the Brandeis Fencing team is back in training and ready for the 2007-2008 campaign.

I think the season is going very well, said Eugene Vortsman 08, the Mens Captain. We lost some very strong seniors who added a lot to the team, not just in skill, in regards to fencing, but very charismatic also. We've replaced them with some solidfencers who have an incredible amount of potential.

Graduated from the Mens side is Kai Keller 07, who placed 19th at the NCAA tournament last March;

at the same tournament, Will Friedman 09 and Caitlin Kozel '09 also placed. The three earned the Judges 19 points, placing them first among Div. III schools for the first time since 2004.

Training has gone extremely well so far, said Vortsman. We only really had captain's practice and recently started coach's [practice]. Basically, everyone walked into the fencing room with enthusiasm and gave every practice 100 percent. I can't ask for more and so far we're looking forward to a very good season.

We have recently started our real practices with coach and things are looking promising, added Stef Aucoin 08, captain of the Womens team, but at the moment its just getting back into the swing of the movement and actions of the sport.

The fencing team is led by William Shipman, who has been coaching the Judges since 1981. He has won five University Athletic Association titles in his time at Brandeis, including three straight Womens titles from 1993-1995.

“Women's foil is especially deep,” said Shipman. “We have six of our top seven all returned and Stef [Aucoin] should be a leader there. I expect good things.”

“The Men's team should be very good, on paper,” continued Shipman, “as we have the whole core foil team returning. I hope they maintain focus, as they could be one of the best foil teams in the country.”

On the schedule this season for the Judges are trips to Duke, Columbia, and Vasser, as well as the traditional Beanpot tournament and dates with Wellesley, MIT, Boston College and Harvard.

I'm really looking forward to this years season, because it is one of our traveling years and we will be going to Duke and Cornell for some tournaments, said Aucoin. Its especially important to me, because the last time we traveled was my sophomore year and I had mono and was unable to go.

The season is very long, and especially because this year is an away year, it is even more draining, added Vortsman. We have a lot of strong teams every season and just like any other year we need to show that we cannot be underestimated. We proved that last year by beating a lot of strong teams, including Ivy's.

The Brandeis fencing program has consistently been one of the schools strongest, enabling the coaching staff to recruit a solid class every season, and this year was no different.

We have several new fencers, but I'm especially happy about Oliva Etkind, freshman sabre from Kansas, and Emma Larkin, freshman epee from New Jersey, noted Aucoin. These are fencers who are definitely going to work hard this year, and were really needed in both weapons, because we had a lot of seniors graduate last year.”

Also, Alex Turner from New Jersey has taken it upon herself to switch weapons from foil to saber,” continued Aucoin, “which can be a really hard decision, since you are sort of starting all over again, but I think she is going to be a huge asset to the women's team because of her dedication.

Honestly, it is very difficult to highlight any specific freshman, said Vortsman. They all have an incredible amount of potential. Vortsman also noted that rookie sophmore Alex Clos, who was injured last year due to a torn ACl and pulled meniscus, is returning and ready to dominate.

Shipman noted that the team has no star fencer that is better than the rest, but that the team is very deep, with talent across the board.

“We should be at least as good as last year, maybe even better,” said Shipman.

The Judges open the fencing season on Nov. 3 at the New England Fall Collegiate at Mt. Holyoke College.

Sydney Reuben contributed to this report.