PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After a promising fall season, the Brown fencing team has its sights set on the upcoming winter schedule and a return trip to the NCAA Championship. Last year, the Bears had one of the best seasons in program history, sending five competitors to the NCAA's (all underclassman) and posted a 13th-place finish. Now, with all five fencers returning, Brown looks to put its stamp on collegiate fencing.
"We had a great season last year and hope to do even better in 2012," said head coach Atilio Tass. "We have five fencers returning, all who are juniors and under, who went to the NCAA Tournament last year. Their experience, along with our newcomers, has us excited for the rest of this season."
After registering a benchmark 2010-11 season, the Bears eyes are firmly set on the Ivy League and NCAA Championships after gaining valuable experience last season.
"Last year we realized Brown can be a major competitor with the other major fencing universities," said junior Caitlin Taylor (Elk Grove, Calif.). "We performed well against our regular-season competition a year ago, and we feel we can do even better this year."
Taylor was joined at the 2011 NCAA Tournament by homegrown competitors junior Teddy Weller (Barrington, R.I.) and sophomore Kathryn Hawrot (Barrington, R.I.), along with juniors Cory Abbe (Scappoose, Ore.) and Avery Nackman (Katonah, N.Y.).
"Last season's NCAA's championship was a great opportunity to really challenge myself and it was so great to have four other teammates qualify," said Nackman. "I think we made a great effort to prepare well for the event and it was an honor to be among the best collegiate fencers."
"The NCAAs were exciting for all of us. I left with a sense of accomplishment," said Hawrot. "I also left with a strong desire to do even better next year. It is an extremely difficult tournament, and you really realize that walking into a room with the top 24 competitors in the country."
The Brown team has grown closer after a tumultuous offseason, but success early this year has the Bears focused on an Ivy League title and a return trip to the NCAA Championship.
So far this season the Bears have registered an impressive 12 medals at the Big One Tournament, while turning in strong showings at the first Northeast Fencing Championship, as well as the Brandeis Invitational.
"I think that the team has done extremely well so far this year," said Hawrot. "We have a great group of fencers this year - the new members are especially enthusiastic and talented, which only improves the team dynamic."
The Bears return to action at the end of the month on January 28 at the NFC No. 2, hosted by Boston College. The Ivy League Championships will be held on February 11 & 12, while the NCAA Tournament will take place March 22-25.