The No. 1 women’s fencing team could not be in better shape going into this weekend’s Ivy League Championship. At 21-0, the Tigers’ focus is on ignoring the hype.
“It’s good and bad having such a good season,” sophomore sabrist Gracie Stone said. “We’re trying not to make the mistake of focusing on winning Ivies but rather focusing on our individual competitors.”
Princeton will be going for its fifth straight title — one shy of the longest streak in Ivy history — after a somewhat surprising championship last year. This year, however, the Tigers are the favorites.
Perhaps the strongest weapon for Princeton is the épée. Sophomore épéeist Anna Van Brummen, an All-Ivy selection last year, will be returning to team play this weekend after winning the Junior World Cup in Sweden last weekend. The squad also includes two-time All-America selection junior Kat Holmes, who will be taking next year off to train for the 2016 Olympics.
Despite their streak of 44 straight dual meet wins, the women are by no means guaranteed the title. Brown is right behind them with a 20-1 record this season, and Columbia and Harvard are both on the rebound, having benefitted from an influx of young talent and the return of several fencers who took time off for the 2012 Olympics.
Stone says that last year’s experience will benefit her team as they meet competition potentially tougher than last year’s.
“We won a few bouts against [Columbia last year] and they just started crumbling,” she said. “We started winning bouts that statistically we really shouldn’t have because we just got together as a team after we lost the first few bouts and readjusted our attitude about the whole competition.”
The No. 3 men’s team sits at 14-5 going into the weekend.
Though the season has not been perfect, the Tigers have gotten used to being on both sides of close matches. Three of their losses came at the Northwestern Duals, when Princeton lost to the No.4, No. 6 and No. 10 teams in the country by a combined seven bouts.
“There will be a lot of crucial touches,” Stone said of the men’s Ivy tournament.
The men’s saber will look to continue a strong season at Ivies. In that weapon, junior Michael Wiest, freshman Peter Pak and senior Philip Dershwitz have often combined for a perfect 9-0 match. Aided by senior Robert Stone, the saber went 6-3 in the Stanford loss and 5-4 in a 14-13 win over UC San Diego.
Columbia, 22-1 and currently ranked highest in the nation, will be the team to beat for the men. At third, Princeton has the second-highest national ranking of any Ivy team, though Brown, Penn and Yale have posted better records.
The Ivy League Championship begins Saturday and continues all day Sunday in Providence, R.I.