Fencing team slashes its way toward NCAA Regionals: Blue squad qualifies nine fencers for regional meet

By Victoria Hills ’14

Co-Editor in Chief

The Blue fencers are a tough group—principled, determined and often successful in competition. Despite a recent rash of injuries, nine fencers qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Regionals. Considering that Wellesley’s region is the strongest in the country, encompassing top clubs and Division-I schools including Harvard, Boston College, Yale and Columbia, this is no mean feat. The 2014 NCAA Northeast Fencing Regional will be hosted at Wellesley on March 9.

“NCAA Regionals is one of only two events in our season where we compete as individuals and thus focus solely on our personal results,” team co-captain Dania Wright ’14 said. That the meet will be held at Wellesley, Wright added, “makes it even more exciting than usual!”

Normally fencers’ results are pooled according to the weapons they compete with: foil, épée or sabre. Wright, for instance, fence ssabre, and has for the past 11 years; she loves her weapon best because of the style and speed required to fence with it. In most tournaments, the results of the Blue’s four sabre fencers are considered collectively when determining which college or club has won the event. At the NCAA Regionals, however, each of the three Blue sabre fencers who qualified—Wright, Alice Xu ’17 and Jasmine Davis ’17—will compete as individuals.

Although the team only has one competition left in the season, the Blue fencers aren’t letting their work ethic slide. “Our main goal is to keep performing the best that we can during every second of every bout because we are not only fencing for ourselves, but also for our teammates and for Wellesley,” co-captain Courtney Collins ’14 said. “I think that’s the greatest part about the sport—you fence for yourself, but you also have your teammates cheering you on, so you fence for them.”

Kaliouby, who’s in his 19th season as the fencing team’s head coach, readily attests to his athletes’ dedication to the sport. “They work hard,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling if you teach people the sport you like.”

Kaliouby agrees with Collins that his fencers’ most important objective is to push themselves hard and always fence the best that they can.

“We’re not fencing just to win,” Kaliouby said. “If you fence well, the result will follow.” He should know—he’s a world-renowned fencer in all three weapons and three-time Olympian.

Wright would say that the team is well equipped to meet Kaliouby’s expectations.

“The team’s greatest strength is probably our determination—some would say stubbornness,” she said. “We have a very long, grueling season, and our competitions are intense, tiring days, sometimes six to eight hours long. It’s easy to get frustrated with your teammates, and your sport, under those circumstances.  Thankfully, this year’s team has been amazing and continued giving their all for the team even when we were all individually ready to quit.”

On March 9, the nine qualifying Blue fencers will have a chance to qualify to be one of eight athletes the northeast region will advance to the national tournament.

Does Kaliouby expect to send anyone to Nationals this year? “Hopefully,” he said, “but it’s so difficult. Our region is the strongest in the country, and it has many top clubs and division one schools. They have more money and better facilities.” Sarah Abraham ’07 was the last Blue fencer to qualify for nationals.

“I hope to fence my best, regardless of the results,” Wright said.

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