After two years of rebuilding, fencing squad is ready to take on the competition

Jessica Guo '17 (right) parries her opponent in her top 32 bout in the NECIFA Big One tournament. Pamela Wang '17 Staff Photographer 

By EDEN LITTRELL ’14

 Sports and Wellness Editor 

Jessica Guo '17 (right) parries her opponent in her top 32 bout in the NECIFA Big One tournament. Pamela Wang '17  Staff Photographer 

Jessica Guo ’17 (right) parries her opponent in her top 32 bout in the NECIFA Big One tournament.
Pamela Wang ’17
Staff Photographer

Two years ago, the class of 2011 graduated, taking with it eight seniors from the fencing team. Ever since then, the team has been rebuilding.

“The team is better; we’re ready to compete,” coach Gamil Kaliouby said.

The team has certainly lived up to Kaliouby’s expectations. On Saturday, Nov. 2, the Blue performed well in their first tournament of the season, the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference’s Fall Invitational, also known as “The Big One.”

Fencers compete in one of three events: foil, épée and sabre. Captain Dania Wright ’14 had the best performance of the day, taking 16th place out of 76 in sabre. Alice Xu ’17 came in 42nd and Jasmine Davis ’17 44th.

“Sabre is kind of on a different branch from foil and épée. Most clubs don’t teach women’s sabre,” Wright said.

In foil, Jessica Guo ’17 came in 19th out of 77 fencers, followed by Camille Samulski ’16 in 30th and Pamela Wang ’17 in 45th. In épée, Kathryn Ledbetter ’15 came in 21st out of 73 fencers, closely followed by Charlotte Treadwell ’16 in 24th and Diana Lee ’15 in 31st. Captain Courtney Collins ’14 came in 42nd.

“I am very proud of Courtney Collins. She was competing for the first time after years of treatment, with her left hand,” Kaliouby said.

Collins, a right-hander, has only been fencing with her left hand for three months. She was modest when describing her own achievements, but was happy with the team performance.

“It’s great, all 10 fencers advanced to the team round, which hasn’t happened in a couple of years,” Collins said.

The Big One does not count towards NCAA qualification, but it showed how competitive Wellesley can be this year. Fencers had to undergo several bouts, first against the other five or six opponents in their pool, and then in the elimination draw.

“It’s all day. You need to be a hundred percent for five or six hours,” Wright said.

Fencing requires as much strategy as it does skill and speed.

“I love that it’s not just a physical sport but a mental sport, like physical chess at 300 miles an hour,” Collins said.

Fencing, rarely seen outside the Olympics and James Bond movies, has a set of challenges that are unique to it, including limitations on how many people can compete in each event. In the upcoming team-versus-team tournaments, each college is allowed three people and an alternate in each weapon.

“Once you get to college, you often have to retrain with a new weapon,” Wright said.

Not only that, but Wellesley plays Division I, II and club teams.

“We play everyone, so we have to adapt. No psyching yourself out about opponents who are Olympic-ranked,” Collins said.

Collins and Wright are looking forward to the year ahead.

“We have big competitions coming up over these next few weeks. We want to see returners winning bouts, get people qualified for regionals and first years getting an introduction to fencing at a collegiate level,” Wright said.

Fencing competes next on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Vassar Invitational.

Eden is a senior who does not have, nor desire, a twitter. She can frequently be seen at the KSC harassing hardworking coaches for quotes and training for the zombie apocalypse.

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