By Christian Rodriguez
The Sacred Heart University women’s fencing team finished in second place and the men’s team finished in third at the NEIFC Championships at Mount Holyoke College complex in South Hadley, Mass. on Saturday, Feb. 24.
Junior epee fencer Dante Centeno had high ambitions going into the tournament, which was to come home with the first-place medal.
“The main goal I have going into the NEIFC tournament is coming home with the gold medal,” said Centeno. “After coming in third last year and losing by one touch, it motivated me to work even harder to get to the goal I’ve been working for. Practicing hard every day, I feel that I have a good shot at getting it.”
Head coach Yury Molchan, who is in his second season at Sacred Heart knows that this is a perfect tournament for the team to win titles in preparation for the regional tournament which takes place on March 11.
“I know this an important tournament for the university because we will be competing against other teams in the Northeast Conference and we will fight for the title,” said Molchan.
Men’s fencing was tied for first in the squad competitions in the epee and foil squad events and seventh in the saber squad event. As a team total, the men’s fencing team won 65 of its 88 bouts falling behind second place Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with 67 victories and first place Vassar College with 72.
Centeno was the best placed epee event finisher for Sacred Heart finishing in fifth place and right after him in sixth was freshman epee fencer, Nicolo Cerminara.
The two fencers from Sacred Heart who walked home with medals were, from the men’s team, freshman foil fencer Lucas Wetmore and from the women’s team, freshman epee fencer Daria Rudakova who both earned a bronze medal.
Rudakova missed the finals falling short in the semifinals by one touch in a 15-14 decision to Rose Husley-Vincent of Vassar College. In the other events, junior Hasoni Austin finished in fifth-place in the saber event and senior Bailey Patridge finished sixth in the foil.
The women’s team was able to record a team total 76 wins out of 112 bouts falling second to MIT’s 93 wins out of 112 bouts.
The fencing team is also looking ahead in their season as they’re seeking to get some of its fencers into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship via qualification at the regionals tournament.
“We will bring 18 people for this tournament in Boston, nine women and nine men,” said Molchan. “There are three spots open for the women to qualify for the NCAA championship at the regionals and two spots for the men’s side.”
The NCAA Northeast regional tournament will take place on March 11 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. where the fencers are looking to extend their season into the national tournament.
“Hard work and consistency is the main thing I believe will be needed. Working hard from the first match all the way to the last will be a must do, winning every match and being consistent is also a must. I’ve faced all the same people throughout the season, and I am going into regionals feeling very confident,” said Centeno.