PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Senior captain Kathryn Hawrot (Barrington, R.I.) and freshman Alex Palabrica (Los Angeles, Calif.) went undefeated in women's foil and men's saber, respectively, to help the Brown fencing team go unbeaten at the first Northeast Fencing Conference meet on the season on Saturday at the Olney-Margolies Athletics Center. The women's side swept the competition, 5-0, while the men finished 4-0.
The men's team made headlines by defeating rival Sacred Heart 15-12, after losing to the Pioneers 14-13 for four straight years. The women defeated two teams in the NFC — Wellesley (23-4) and Sacred Heart (14-13) — as well as three out-of-league competitors: UMass (22-5), New Hampshire (23-4) and Boston University (24-3). The men conquered UMass (26-1), UNH (25-2), BU (22-5), and Sacred Heart.
Bears across all squads put up strong numbers at the tournament, which was one of two home meets for the year, held at the OMAC. Hawrot led the women's foil squad by going 10-0, while sophomore Audrey Lee (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) notched an 8-1 mark. On the saber squad, both senior Caitlin Taylor (Elk Grove, Calif.) and junior Christine Whalen (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) had 8-0 records. Senior Laney Caldwell (Indian Spring, Ala.) helped the women's epee team with an 8-2 total.
On the men's side, there were impressive performances among the saber squad: rookie Palabrica went undefeated with a 12-0 record, followed closely by sophomore Denis Dukhvalov (Salisbury Mills, N.Y.), who went 11-1, and senior Nick Deak (San Diego, Calif.), who had an 8-1 score. Sophomore Simon Jones (Louisville, Colo.) led the epeeists, tallying a 10-1 record, while junior captain Barrett Weiss (Barrington, R.I.) went 8-1.
After losing to Sacred Heart by just one bout for four years in a row, the men's team went into the last match of the day hopeful and ready to win. "We were really making sure to be fully prepared both mentally and physically," Weiss said. After some tough bouts and heavy cheering, the women's team pulled out a narrow 14-13 victory, and the men's squad won by two, 15-12. Senior captain Benjamin McDonald (Woodlands, Texas) shared his thoughts on the victory, for which he has waited since freshman year: "Coming up short my freshman through junior year was always disappointing, so finally pulling out the victory was extremely exciting," he said. "I think it shows how far we've come as a team."
Head Coach Atilio Tass was excited about the team's performance. "The coaching staff is very happy," he said, calling the victory over SHU, last year's NFC Men's Champions, "the goal of this tournament." He praised the women's team for an "excellent performance" that reflected their hard training.
The Bears will be in action again at the Brandeis Invitational on December 8.