(Northhampton, MA) - The Big One Individual Collegiate Fencing Tournament was held on Saturday, November 5th at Smith College. The event had 485 fencers from 25 colleges competing. The Pioneer Men had their best day ever at this event, winning five medals and placing 11 fencers in the top 16 in their respective weapons. Senior All- American Marty Williams led the way by winning the saber competition. The Pioneer Women also had their best day ever at this event, winning five medals and being led by Elena Tringa's silver medal in saber.
The day began with men's epee. In an 80 man field, freshman Neil Doppler was second after the preliminary round of competition. In addition to Doppler's fine start, senior All-American Justin Dion was seventh, junior squad captain Jeremiah German was ninth, junior Mike Fenech tenth, freshman Khris White 22nd, freshman Kevin Almerini 24th and senior CJ Fleck 32nd. As a result of these placings, several Pioneers faced off against each other during the direct elimination bouts. Almerini defeated German to make it to the round of 16 where he joined, Dion, Doppler, Fenech. Dion then defeated Fenech 15-7 to advance to the quarter finals. Doppler lost a close bout with David Wyrobnik of MIT 15 -12 and Almerini was eliminated by Vasser's Tavish Pegram. Dion defeated Boston College's Kendall Harmeyer to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight year. He took an early lead in his semi final against Joey Rafidi of MIT but was unable to stop Rafidi's furious comeback and was defeated 15-13. In addition to Justin Dion's bronze medal performance, Neil Doppler finished 10th , Mike Fenech 12th, Kevin Almerini 15th, Jeremiah German 17th, Khris White 35th and CJ Fleck 37th. "I was pleased with the overall performance of the epee squad today", comments head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "Justin was solid as always but I think that he was surprised by the improvement that Rafidi has made since last season. I know that he will be better prepared for Joey when we fence MIT in two weeks. I was very pleased with the strong showings of Doppler, Fenech, and Almerini. It was too bad that Justin and Mike had to face off in the round of 16, but those are the breaks in a direct elimination tournament. Despite our success, I believe that we can do even better and we will be working very hard to improve in the next two weeks before the league matches begin"
While the epee tournament was underway, Sacred Heart's foil squad got into action. The Pioneers were dominant again in the preliminary round and junior team captain Stuart Holmes, and freshmen Andrew Holmes and Jonathan Jocavino went undefeated in the preliminary round. They were seeded fifth, first and eight respectively going into the direct elimination phase of the tournament. All three made it to the round of 16, where Jocavino was defeated by the eventual champion Barrett Weiss of Brown. The Holmes brothers both made it to the quarter finals but lost two very close matches by identical 15-13 scores (Andrew to Weiss and Stuart to Brandeis' Julian Cardillo). In the final results, Andrew Holmes placed fifth, Stuart Holmes eighth, Jacovino 10th, freshman Cooper Johnson 21st, sophomore Brendan Stokes 41st and freshman Eric Von Fischer 44th. "Our foil squad gave a good account of itself today", said Dr. Vrabel. "Andrew Holmes was the only opponent to get 13 touches from Weiss today and Stuart Holmes had to make up a lot of ground against Cardillo and fell just short. We still have a lot of room for improvement and I look for our foil squad to get even better over the coming weeks. Saturday showed us what we need to work on and we will be ready for Brandeis, Brown and MIT later this month".
The Pioneer saber squad also got off to fast start with Marty Williams leading the way, going 6-0 in the preliminary round. Williams, sophomores Sean Vilar and Peter Freiss and freshman Tom Gerrity all advanced to the round of 16. Once again, the luck of the draw affected the Pioneers as Williams, Gerrity, and Vilar all were in the same draw with former Big One champion Peter Souders of Boston College. Gerrity fought hard but lost a close bout to Souders and Freiss was defeated by eventual silver medalist Adam Mandel of Brandeis. Williams advanced to the quarterfinals with a 15-8 win over Phil Efthimion of Rutgers and Vilar defeated seventh seed Eli Kohlenberg of Tufts 15-12 to make the eights. After a slow start, Williams took care of Brown's Nick Deak 15-12 while Vilar fell to Souders. This set up a classic matchup between the perennial Northeast Fencing Conference All Stars Williams and Souders. Souders led 8-6 at the break after a very tight first stanza. Following the one minute coaching break, Marty Williams took over the match and with aggressive attacks and incredible focus put away Souders 15-11. Marty then controlled the championship match from outset and cruised to a 15-4 victory and the gold medal. Other Pioneer results in saber include Vilar eighth, Gerrity 13th, Freiss 16th, freshman Chris Di Pietro 25th and senior David Choy 35th in the 80 fencer field.
"I am very proud of our saber squad today", comments Dr. Vrabel. "Williams dominated the big matches today. He has never looked better. This was a great start for his chase for the NCAA saber championship. Gerrity was very focused today and Vilar was much more confident and assertive than last season. Pete Freiss was also sharp today. I think that saber is a bit ahead of the other squads right now. I look for the saber squad to have a great season. Many of our freshmen have stepped right into starting spots. We will probably have five new starters this season. It is great to have quality depth in each weapon. This is the best that we have ever looked at this point in the season.
The Pioneers are back in action at Vassar College on Sunday, Nov 13, where they will fence Vassar, Hunter College, Yeshiva University, Steven's Tech and Haverford College.