Fencers claim second-straight New England title

Vikki Nunley '14 (Photo by Sportspix.biz)

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – For the second year in a row, the Brandeis University fencing team has claimed the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference championship, held this year at Mount Holyoke College. In addition to the overall six-weapon title, the Judges also won a trophy for the second-straight year in the men's  three-weapon standings and individual squad championships in the men's sabre, men's foil and women's foil. The Brandeis women came in third in their three-weapon standings.

The team won the overall six-weapon meet by five points over Sacred Heart University, 163-158. MIT came in third with 151 points. The men defeated MIT, 74-68, in their three-weapon standings, with Sacred Heart coming in third with 66 points. In the women's overall standings, the top three teams were separated by three points. SHU edged Boston College, 92-91, for the top spot, with Brandeis just behind with 89 points.

In the individual weapon standings, the Judges' title in the men's foil was by the slimmest of margins over Sacred Heart, 27-26. The sabre fencers came in three points ahead of MIT, 27-24. The Engineers took the men's epee with 24 points, while the Pioneers were second with 21 and the Judges were third with 20. Brandeis women's foil won their second-straight title, edging Dartmouth, 35-34. The Judge women's epee and sabre squads both came in fifth overall with 27 points apiece.

Individually, Brandeis's top performance came in the men's sabre, where they took the gold and silver medals. Juniors Adam Mandel (White Plains, N.Y./Masters School) and Jess Ochs-Willard (Montclair, N.J./Montclair) were two of four fencers to go 4-1 in the preliminary pools in qualifying for the medal round. In the final group of pool play, Mandel rolled to a 5-0 record, outtouching his opponents, 25-9, while Ochs-Willard's 3-2 record and 21-15 touch advantage was enough to give him the silver medal.

In an extremely tight men's foil final round, junior Noah Berman (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) earned a silver medal. Berman was the top seed after the first round of eliminations, going 5-0 with a 24-8 touch advantage. He reached the final six along with teammates Len Grazian (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) and Ethan Levy(Great Neck, N.Y./Great Neck South). The final grouping saw Berman and Andrew Holmes and Joe Fiacco of Sacred Heart all go 3-2, while Levy Grazian and MIT's Scott Robinson each went 2-3. The top three went to a third round of fencing to decide the gold medal, and Holmes edged Berman, 5-3, for gold, while the Judge fencer defeated Fiacco for silver by the same score.

Brandeis had two other fencers finish just out of the medal standings. Sophomore Ari Feingersch (Coral Springs, Fla. / J.P. Taravella) was fourth in the men's epee,  going 3-2 in the preliminary round and 2-3 in the finals. Senior Vikki Nunley (Lebanon, N.J./Voorhees) had the top finish for the women, placing fourth in the foil. Nunley went 5-0 in the semifinal pool and earned the second seed, but was just 2-3 in the finals. In women's epee, sophomore Gwendolyn Mowell (Wyckoff, N.J./Indian Hills) placed sixth overall, while rookie Nina Sayles (Mamaroneck, N.Y./Loomis Chafee) was 10th in women's sabre action.