SIFA Champs Recap

This March, the team had another opportunity to travel to UNCG again for the SIFA Champs and had a great time!
Men’s epee sent their veteran squad of Pulak Raj, Benjamin Coleman, and Greg Quigg to SIFA Champs to face off against all of SIFA men’s epee once again. Benjamin Coleman was able to dominate his opponent’s bladework and defeat many key opponents. Greg Quigg was able to collect many close victories including a few 5-4 matches. Pulak Raj returned to SIFA Champs to only drop a single bout in the group round. Men’s epee came up short against Georgia but were able to improve upon their performance from last year.
At SIFA Champs, women’s all senior epee squad leveraged their years of fencing experience to upset opponents and to achieve victory after victory. Charlotte Engel, Annette Kang, and Nikki Petzer worked together seamlessly to come out of pools as the number one seed with no losses. Entering DE’s, women’s epee faced challenging competition, and although they did not place, their confidence and ability continued to improve throughout the day. All of the women started off strong with a 9-0 victory over Eastern Carolina. Charlotte surprised opponents with her speed and footwork, winning many bouts throughout the day. Following up her impressive VA Cup performance, Annette won the majority of her bouts, building upon her already strong parries and intimidating opponents along the way. Nikki performed strongly throughout the day, dropping very few bouts with her attention to distance and strong extensions.
Men’s Foil performed exceptionally well at SIFA Champs, finishing in 2nd place overall. Matt Cusick, Faisal Al-Alami and Ben Witman all fenced well and won most of their bouts. Some particular highlights included Matt Cusick going almost undefeated in pools, losing only one bout. Faisal Al-Alami had some impressive bouts where he fleched his way to victory. Most impressive of all, however, was when Ben Witman beat a composite team’s skilled A strip 5-2. Matt struggled to beat him and Faisal even fell short, losing to him, so Ben’s dominating victory was extra impressive.
Women’s Foil did not place as well as Men’s, but all three fencers (Julianne Cook, Sarah Sues and Katherine English) fenced well and won bouts, never being defeated by another school without a fight. Sarah in particular was impressive when she beat multiple competent opponents with her counter-attacks, as she was coming from an Epee background. Julianne and Katie both fenced very well, which is also good to see because Julianne has a Saber background and this was Katie’s first fencing tournament.
Nicko Boylan ’22, Robert Catlett ’18, and Steven Pressendo ’20 had a dominant showing in the morning. In pools, the squad finished 4-1 with multiple 9-0 wins and a narrow 5-4 loss to Appalachian State. We earned a bye in the first round and won our second DE by a combined score of 25-6. Our squad later dropped matches to Appalachian State and Clemson, finishing 4th in the conference.
Nicko’s first bout of the day featured a counterattack so smooth that at first even the referee didn’t realize the action succeeded. Gero combined his signature counterattacks with powerful parries to win comfortable victories over Virginia Tech and JMU. In his most impressive bout of the day, Nicko faced off against a semi-finalist from last week’s VA Cup, where Nicko’s speedy footwork won the bout in less than a minute. Robert’s clean box actions and endless marching attacks brought early victories over JMU and George Washington University. In a rematch of last week’s 3rd place bout, Robert bested VT’s A strip, this time with a parry riposte while hanging off the end of the strip. Robert shined under pressure, beating a C-rated fencer from Appalachian State and scoring another win over Appalachian State to keep our team alive in the DE round. Steven had one of his top performances of the season. After dropping his first pool bout, he went on a winning streak and finished pools 14-1. He had a great time reuniting with (and beating) his former teammates from other schools.
Woman’s sabre had a bizarre experience at SIFA championships this year. Coincidently, they fenced the same three schools that were in our initial pool to decide the direct elimination seats. Even though they had to fence the same schools twice, our women kept a positive attitude and fenced with their A-game. Women’s sabre placed in 5th. Chrysanthi Stevens led her team that day in her last collegiate sabre tournament. She was focused not only on her own fencing but the fencing and morale of her teammates. She only dropped one bout in direct eliminations. Moreover, in a clutch bout against a JMU saberist that she had been fencing on an even-level with for four years, Chrysanthi pulled out a well-timed parry riposte. The school score was 4-4, the bout score was 4-4, and that last parry-riposte won the direction elimination for William & Mary. Madeline Myers pushed herself that day. She learned to fence smart against her opponents, and she changed her box-actions according to the referee’s calls. She proved to be one of the best left-hand saberists that day. Against the same senior, left-handed JMU saberist that Chrysanthi fenced, Madeline beat her twice. Mary McCants was a compact ball of positivity. She maintained her high spirits throughout the entire day. In the last bout of the day, she won the bout that led us to beat Georgia Tech 5-3 with her quick defensive actions. Woman’s sabre performed with grace and vigor in one of the last tournaments of the year.