Start of spring 2021 semester and team update

As the spring 2021 semester begins and more students begin to return to campus, the William & Mary fencing club is also returning to action! Practices started up this past weekend now that most juniors and sophomores have returned to campus, and both sessions of practice were well-attended. While there have been few changes to team protocol regarding social distancing and mask-wearing, team members are grateful to be able to practice at all and hopeful for the gradual return of tournaments and bouting.


The fencing team is still practicing every Friday (4 – 5:30pm) and Saturday (2 – 3:30pm) in the basement of Kaplan Arena. And just like last semester, practices are still 45 minutes long and consisting of only eight people at a time. The members of the team have had plenty of time to get used to this new format and are now taking advantage of the time to improve footwork, stamina, and control. The addition of new practice equipment that the team acquired last semester, like the targets, has also made practice easier and more enjoyable. As well as that, the club has also managed to attract new members since the fall who, despite the limitations placed on practices, are eager to learn more about the fencing and become part of the team.


Ultimately, it is a shame that this update could not be a longer one. Usually the spring would be full of tournaments and travel, and new and old members alike would practice every day to hone their fencing skills. While it is unfortunate that this semester be different, the fencing team is still doing its best to stay as active and close-knit as ever this semester. Small-group social events, bigs and littles, and Zoom calls between current fencers and alumni attempt to fill the gaps left by COVID-19. It is yet another strange semester coming off the heels of a very strange year, but we will do what we can to preserve William & Mary’s fencing community!


For more information on the William & Mary fencing team, email or visit us on Facebook!


COVID-19 Update and Mid-season Recap

This has certainly been one of the most unusual semesters experienced by the William & Mary fencing team in many years. Normally, this post would be a recap of one of the many tournaments taking place in the fall. However, given that all tournaments are suspended until further notice, it will instead provide an update on how the team has been functioning amidst the pandemic. While this year’s schedule is obviously very different from those past, the William & Mary fencing team has continued to operate to the best of its abilities. The team has gained a number of new recruits with a wide range of experience, and practices are still happening this semester, albeit with new COVID-19 restrictions in place.


Practices are still held in Kaplan as usual, now taking place every Friday (from 4-5:30pm) and Saturday (2-3:30pm). As the fencing room can only support eight people social distancing at one time, they have been divided into 45-minute sessions in order to allow more members the opportunity to practice. This means that members must sign-up in advance every week, and there are only a limited amount of slots available. As well as that, masks must be worn the duration of practice, and the room must undergo frequent sanitation.


However, this has yet to deter the team, as new and old members alike continue to show up ready to learn at every practice. In line with new COVID-19 guidelines, bouts are no longer allowed, so practice has adjusted accordingly. The team now focuses more on conditioning and footwork, and getting in shape for the (hopefully) upcoming tournaments next semester. As well as that, the team’s recently-acquired targets have helped fencers with their bladework and point control. Remember, never sacrifice precision and accuracy for speed!


Though this semester was likely not what anyone had anticipated, the team has done its best to adjust, and the bonds between teammates and the dedication to the sport remain strong. Hopefully the fencing team will return strong next semester with regular practices and tournaments resumed; for now, please enjoy this unconventional recap during unprecedented times!


For more information about William & Mary fencing team and how we’re operating this semester, contact us at or check us out on Facebook!


Victory at Virginia Cup!

William & Mary kept up their dominance at the annual Virginia Cup, hosted here at the College this year. Due to a year of hard work, the Cup remains on our trophy case until next year. We did exceptionally in the women’s events, winning first place in women’s foil and saber and second place in épée. Our ladies dominated the podium in the individual events as well. The men won second place in every weapon. This consistency landed them in first place overall. In all six weapons, we finished off strong in first place. Read on for a detailed recap of the tournament:

VA Cup was a very competitive tournament for men’s epee and William and Mary men’s epee came to compete, sending a roster of Pulak Raj ’20, Huw Richards (graduate student), Benjamin Coleman ’19, and Greg Quigg ’21. Huw Richards, fencing his first VA Cup, proved himself as one of the strongest fencers in the room by using his distance and speed to catch his opponents by surprise. Pulak Raj and Benjamin Coleman both returned to VA cup to continue their dominance at VA Cup even with the new heavy competition at the tournament. The team’s last match was against UVA where William and Mary men’s epee won 6-3. Every victory against UVA was a clutch victory because William and Mary ending up edging past UVA by a single bout and secured 2nd place. All in all, men’s epee learned a lot from the tough competition and looks forward to competing at CFCs.
This weekend, women’s epee came out in full force at Virginia Cup with a team of experienced seniors— Kirsten Clamann ’19, Annette Kang ’19, and Nikki Petzer ’19. Their overall performance was stellar, only losing to one school, 4-5, throughout the day. Kirsten used her quick thinking and bladework expertise to do well both in team bouts as well individuals. Annette utilized her fierce aggression and speedy parries to throw opponents off and deliver some much needed victories. Coming in second in individuals, Nikki had a strong showing, carefully timing her attacks and improving upon point control. Women’s epee looks forward to continuing their victories throughout the spring tournament season.
Men’s foil put on an impressive performance at VA cup, taking home the silver medal in both team and individuals. Men’s foil brought four fencers to the tournament, all of which ended the day winning far more bouts than they lost. Foil captain, Matthew Cusick ’20, led the squad only dropping two bouts in the team pools, and finishing second overall in individuals. Stuart Thomas ’21 and Aaron Stone ’22 had similarly impressive runs, making it into the quarter and semi-finals in individuals. Faisal Al-Alami ’20 served as substitute for the team event, and although he fenced less team bouts than the other members, he managed to maintain a 100% rate of victory. Overall, Men’s foil had what might have been their strongest performance of the season, which indicates good things going into club nationals.
Women’s foil had a great day at Virginia Cup, and were able to show off just how much their fencing had grown after training hard all semester. Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20, Molly McCue ’21, and Julie Vu ’20 each brought their own A-game, but the squad was made even stronger as they supported one another and cheered each other on throughout the day. Overall, the squad earned first place after a nail-biting 5-4 victory over UVA.
Elizabeth only dropped one bout in the team portion of the event, and then pushed through individual DEs to place 2nd, losing in a long, tough match to Grayson Katzenbach (UVA) in the finals. Despite dealing with injuries for most of the spring semester, Molly’s clean bladework won her many victories and she placed 4th in individuals. Julie never let her opponents put down their guard, and she scored some great victories over Liberty with her fast attacks and ripostes.
Elizabeth and Julie will be heading to USACFCs in two weeks, and they couldn’t be more excited to bring what they’ve learned from VA Cup to Bucks County, PA!
Nicko Boylan ’22 combined flashy bladework and dynamic distance to dismantle each opponent he faced. He went undefeated in the team round, including scoring 5 swift counterattacks to bagel a Liberty fencer. In Nicko’s first direct elimination bout, he upset the 5th-seeded fencer, earning a top 8 finish before facing Triton in the quarterfinals. Daniel Bachman ’20 opened the day with comfortable victories over Virginia Tech and Mary Washington. When Virginia Tech’s fencers made the mistake of trying to out-muscle Daniel, he adapted to beat them at their own game. Daniel drew a very tough opponent in his first DE and finished in the top 16. In his final VA Cup, Robert Catlett ’18 breezed through the team round and easily won his first DE. Robert beat Nicko in the table of 8, before falling to the top seed from UVA in the semifinal. In the fence off for third place, Robert found himself down 7-2 against Virginia Tech’s top fencer. Robert showcased his tactical growth and completely changed his approach to the bout. His opponent couldn’t keep up with Robert’s diverse attacks, allowing Robert to storm back to a 15-9 victory and win the bronze medal! For the second consecutive year, Steven Pressendo ’20 faced a former teammate in the gold medal match. Having fenced his opponent many times before, Steven came in with a solid plan and defended his state title with a 15-7 win.
Women’s sabre dominated Virginia Cup. After winning first place for women’s sabre, we swept individuals with all medalists representing William & Mary. Chrysanthi Stevens fenced against fast saberists with smart, out-of-the-box quick actions. She won third place in individuals with a nerve-rackingly close semi-final bout against Riley Aiken that went 15-13. Riley was on top of her game this competition. She was by far the quickest saberist in the competition, and it showed when she won first place in individuals. Madeline Myers pulled out her favorite move, a counterattack to the forearm, every chance she could that day. In fact, in the final against Riley, she got a few counterattacks in a row! Madeline also displayed her harrowing endurance during the final, finishing in second place with a score of 15-12. Emory Magner gave it her all in her last colligate fencing competition. Her smooth extensions and quick parries allowed her to win fourth place in individuals. Mary McCants was a force to be reckoned with. She performed incredibly well in the round robin bouts, and she offered support to fellow teammates throughout the day, even when sabre fencing ended. She was patient with her parries and waited for the perfect moment to commit to the parry and riposte. Julianne Cook had patient and calculated attacks. She kept proper distance which helped her parry, and, most importantly, she maintained high spirits throughout the day. Every one of our women’s saberists performed beautifully in VA Cup. We are very proud of all of them, and we are lucky to have the opportunity to allow them all to compete.