Strong individual performances at the Temple Open opened the season for the fencing team this past weekend. The Red performed well in all three divisions, as the team had top-10 honors in epee, sabre and foil.
Coached by Iryna Dolgikh, Cornell started its fall season at the Philadelphia tournament and looked to the Temple Open to provide a yardstick for a year where the Red hopes to build upon its strong finish in the 2005-06 season.
“I have been on the team for four years and at Temple this is our best result as a team while I have been here,” said senior Elise Pasoreck. “This is our best result there in a while.”
Cornell came close to dominating the sabre division with senior captain Ivana Zgaljic tying for third and sophomore Alex Heiss taking the second place — a six place improvement from Heiss’s finish last year.
“This year I had more experience on the college level and more confidence,” Heiss said. “Last year it was my first college tournament ever.”
While Cornell’s sabre squad was made up entirely of returning players, the epee and foil squads entered competition with several freshmen making their collegiate debuts.
“[The epee and foil squads are] very comfortable with each other and as mentally close as the sabre team,” Zgaljic said.
This year’s rookie class carved up its own nook, as freshmen fencers took top-10 spots in the other divisions. Freshman Tasha Hall fought for third place in the epee competition while her classmate Dana Baines finished eighth in the foil competition. The Red notched yet another top-10 finish when junior Erica Waichman took ninth in the epee competition.
With a large field of close to 500 fencers and more than 70 competitors in some divisions, the Red’s other outcomes were also important.
Freshmen teammates added two top-20 finishes in epee and the upperclassmen rallied for three additional top-half finishes in the foil division.
Cornell will dedicate the next three weeks to practice before stepping onto the competitive strip at home for the Cornell Invitational on Nov. 19. Pasoreck described training as being akin to what fencers experience at top professional clubs.
“[The team is] really lucky this year to have so many people come in with so much experience,” Tasoreck said. “A lot of our girls have been to really high competitions and know what is expected of them.”
With a core of experienced returning players and a freshman class ready to contribute, Cornell will try to make waves in upcoming national and Ivy tournaments.
“The biggest thing is obviously the NCAA and you want to qualify as many people for that as you can,” Zgaljic said. “The big thing will be doing well at regionals. … [If Cornell] could get a couple more Ivy wins it would really show that we have gotten better as a team. We have a really strong team so it’s definitely doable.”
The Red broke a 65-match winless streak in February when it beat Brown in Newman Arena for its first Ivy win since the 1991-92 season.
The Red will try to use the Temple results to drive future performance.
“The adrenaline really started pumping when people started doing well,” Tasoreck said. “It got to be really exciting. It is like when you get into that zone. It just feels like you can do anything.”