Fencers take two golds, three silver, one bronze to open season at The Big One

Big One Gold Medalists Josh Shuster, men's epee and Jessica Morales, women's sabre

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Brandeis University fencing team opened its 2019-20 season in style today as the Judges took two gold medals, two silvers and one bronze at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Fall Collegiate Invitational – better known as The Big One.

On the women's side, the Judges' best performance came in the sabre event, where they took the top two spots. Rookies Jessica Morales (Wilmington, Mass./Wilmington) and Maggie Shealy (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill) emerged from pool play with the third and fourth seeds, respectively. Both went 5-0 in pool play with indicators of +23 and +21. The Judges also claimed the eighth and 10th seeds, as sophomore Jada Harrison (Jericho, N.Y./Jericho) and junior Devon Brown (Concord, Mass./Concord-Carlisle) went 5-1 and 4-1, respectively. Harrison went on to reach the quarterfinals with a 15-1 win over a foe from Smith in the Round of 32 and a 15-11 win over MIT in the Sweet 16 before bowing out in the quarters to top-seeded Crystal Chen of BC, 15-7. Shealy, who defeated two foes from BU by identical 15-6 scores to reach the quarters, knocked off Katarina Shone of Boston College, 15-7, to get to the semis and earn a medal. She upset top-seeded Chen, 15-12, to reach the title match, where she faced her teammate Morales. Morales rolled past opponents from New Hampshire and Amherst, 15-3, to get to the quarters. In her first tight match, she defeated MIT's Kristen Palmer, 15-10, to get to the semis. Against second-seeded Gillian Lawlor, another BC Eagle, Morales claimed a 15-9 win. In the gold-medal match, Morales prevailed, 15-11, over Shealy.

The men's gold came in the epee competition, where rookie Josh Shuster (Brooklyn, N.Y./Staten Island Technical) pulled the biggest upset of the meet, coming from the 22nd seed to win the entire tournament. Shuster was the fifth-highest seeded Judge coming out of pool play, with four others – rookie Ben Rogak (E. Setauket, N.Y. / Ward-Melville); senior Chris Armstrong (Highland Park, Ill. / Highland Park); rookie Adrian Karwowski (Bayonne, N.J./Bayonne), and junior Garrett Tordo (Framingham, Mass./Framingham) – all going 5-1 in pool action and Shuster going 4-1. Rogak and Armstrong were the highest seeds based on indicator, ranking eighth and ninth, respectively. In the direct elimination, Rogak and Armstrong met each other in the round of 16, with the rookie taking a 15-14 win to make the quarterfinals before falling to the top seed. Shuster, meanwhile, defeated an opponent from BC, 15-11, before picking up his first upset in the Round of 32, 15-9, over Nicolo Cerminaro, in the second round. He edged an opponent from UMass, seeded 39th, 15-12, to reach the quarters, where an injury forced his next opponent to withdraw. Facing another 22 seed, Shuster won another narrow victory, over an opponent from Sacred Heart, 15-13, to reach the gold medal match. In the finals, Shuster against took a tight match, 15-13, over 20th-seeded Thomas Park from BC.

In the foil, the Judges added a silver and a bronze to the mix. Senior Ian Quin (Ramsey, N.J./Ramsey) earned a medal at the Big One for the third year in a row, taking silver after posting two golds, while rookie Elliot Siegel (Newton, Conn./Hopkins School) reached the semifinals to claim bronze. Quin went 6-0 in pool play with a +25 indicator to earn the second seed, while Siegel was 5-0, +21, to take the sixth seed in the direct elimination. Four other Brandeis fencers made it through pool play with just one loss. Quin went through the first three rounds of the direct elimination by allowing just eight touches against, meeting a couple of teammates, rookie Harper Hall (San Francisco, Calif./Gateway) and junior Jared Sugarman (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale) in the rounds of 32 and 16.  In the quarters, Quin downed Philip Acinapuro of BC, 15-4, to reach the medal round. Siegel defeated opponents from UConn, 15-5; BU, 15-10; and Sacred Heart, 15-12, to make the quarters. In the quarterfinals, Siegel upset a co-second seed, Lucas Wetmore of Sacred Heart, 15-5, setting up a semifinal meeting with teammate Quin. The senior prevailed, 15-9, and Quin took a 15-10 loss to his co-fourth seed, Lawrence Tan, also of SHU.

The Judges showed their best depth in the men's sabre competition, where they put six competitors into the final 16, including junior Alexander Holtmann (Bad Ueberkingen, Germany / Kaufmaennische Schule Geislingen), who earned a silver medal. In addition to Holtmann, rookie Braden Vaccari (Manhattan, N.Y. / Dwight School), sophomore Lucas Lin (Plano, Texas. / Plano West), and senior Charles Catino (Bellevue, Wash. / Hillside) were four of six fencers to go 6-0 in pool play. Vaccari was a co-top seed with a +24 indicator, while Lin, Holtmann and Catino were fourth through sixth. In addition to those four top seeds, senior Shawn Pyatetsky (Fair Lawn, N.J./Fair Lawn) and rookie Dexin Huang (Guilford, Conn. / Guilford) also made the final 16. Holtmann and Lin both made the quarterfinals, with Holtmann winning a pair of 15-9 decisions to make that round, while Lin defeated an opponent from MIT ,15-6, and Pyatetsky, 15-13, to join him. Holtmann edged Lin, 15-14, to make it to the medal round. Holtmann avenged Vaccari's sweet 16 loss with a 15-7 win over Vassar's Conor Travaglione before suffering a 15-8 loss in the gold-medal match against MIT's Bolang Meng.

In the women's foil competition, senior Jessica Gets (Morganville, N.J. / Freehold Township) defeated rookie Samantha Shortall (Norwell, Mass. / Norwell) in the round of 16, 15-6, to move on to the quarterfinals, but lost by one touch, 15-14, to top-seeded Madison Lee, of BC. They finished eighth and 10th, respectively.

In women's epee, junior Madeleine Vibert (Las Vegas, Nev. / West Career and Tech. Academy) had the highest finish, taking 12th place after going 4-1 in pool play and winning her first two DE matches, 15-0 and 15-3.

The Judges return to action in two weeks with the first Northeast Fencing Conference meet of the season at Brown.