By John Kaywood
Senior Staff Writer
The Sacred Heart University fencing teams are heading into the final stretch of their seasons. The Pioneers have had NFC (Northeast Fencing Conference) Rookie of the Year’s and Fencers of the Year’s in the past who have led the charge for both the men’s and women’s squads.
Now a new group of rookies and veterans are leading the team into the NEIFC (New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference) Championships and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Regional portions of their schedules.
Senior epee Samantha Abbott, who took home the Rookie of the Year honors back in 2016, is looking to finish her senior year on a high note.
“This is my second year being captain, so I have a lot of experience of knowing about the details that go into practice and events,” said Abbott. “It’s definitely been a learning curve from freshman to senior year but I’m very appreciative for the opportunities I’ve been given.”
The team practices, collaborates and ultimately works towards the same goal of placing in the top tier at NEIFC on March 2, to qualify for NCAA Regional on March 10. That all culminates with the NCAA Championships on March 21.
Three sophomore fencers hail from outside the United States; epee Nicolo Cerminara from Italy, sabre Amanda Fischer from Brazil and epee Daria Rudakova from Russia.
“It definitely creates a unique and diverse environment, that I think us as the fencing team can call as our own,” said senior epee Ian Senerth. “Daria is very technical with her fencing and Nicolo has been training with Italian Olympians so they bring very interesting things to the table.”
Recent experiences and finishes in past meets are what sophomore epee Troy Kapitzke looks at in order to come up with an attack strategy.
“I only lost one or two bouts out of the 14 I had in our last NFC meet, so I’m really proud of that performance and hope to continue that into the championship season,” said Kapitzke.
Rudakova felt that both team’s performances against Yale on Feb. 2, were season-defining moments.
“We really competed very well against their French grip team which our team hasn’t seen too much of so far this year,” said Rudakova.
Both teams intend to use their camradarie and performances in previous meets to help propel them through the homestretch of the season.
“Fencing is a very small sport, so we can go to summer nationals, which is probably the biggest event all year and we are facing Olympians,” said Abbott. “There are no major leagues for fencing; this is it; this is highest level.”
As of publication time, both teams still have to compete in their final dual-meets of the season against Columbia University in the Bronx, N.Y., on Feb. 13.