Fencing Heads to IFAs

PHILADELPHIA – Postseason fencing begins for Penn Sunday as they head to New York City for the Intercollegiate Fencing Association (IFA) Championships hosted by Columbia. The Quakers are one of 12 schools competing in the event.

Penn has had recent success at the IFAs, winning the women’s foil title last season and taking home the championship in men’s foil in 2006. The most recent overall title for Penn was won by the women in 2004. To find the last time the men won the overall crown, one must go back to 1990.

Both the men and the women are coming off strong finishes at the Ivy League Round Robins – both teams finished in second place. In addition, eight fencers – four each from the men and women – received All-Ivy honors for their results in Ivy bouts.

The women’s foil squad returns two of the three who made up last year’s championship trio in Abby Emerson and captain Ilana Sinkin. Joining them is Zoya Abdikulova. The three women have combined to win 91 bouts this season, and all three received All-Ivy honors.

Last year, the women’s sabre team lost out on the gold medal by one victory. As is the case with foil, two of the three women who comprised last year’s medalists are back looking to take the next step. Alexis Baran and Cassandra Partyka remember how close they came last season. Freshman Danielle Kamis is the newcomer to the squad and added 37 victories this season – a team high in 07-08 by any fencer, male or female.

The women’s epee team also medaled in ’07, taking home the bronze. Kathryn Anthony and Kristen Hughes are back from that team and are joined by freshman Stephanie Wheeler. They have a combined 74 bouts won between them this season.

On the men’s side, the silver medalist sabre squad from 2007 has two-thirds of the team back for more in 2008. Andrew Bielen and Matthew Kolasa have added Jon Berkowsky to the trio and continued the success they had last season. The three men have won 77 bouts this season while only losing 16. All three were honored as members of the All-Ivy team this season.

The men’s foil team is led by three-time first-team All-American Ron Berkowsky. He added his third-straight first-team All-Ivy selection to his honors two weeks ago. The senior captain is 25-5 this season. He was joined on the All-Ivy first team by freshman Alex Salsman. In his first season for the Quakers, Salsman has won 22 bouts, including ten in Ivy meets. The third spot on the foil squad has been alternating between Mario Ponticello and Dan Shiff, who have 30 wins between them.

In epee, the Quakers are paced by Samuel Monk and Ben Wieder – each has won 22 bouts this season. Ben Scholom and Corey Purcell round out the squad.

If the Quakers are to recapture the team title, they will have to go through Columbia – the Ivy champion in both men’s and women’s fencing. Harvard is also a perennial contender as well.

Fencing begins at 8:30 a.m. and continues throughout the day until approximately 7 p.m.