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Will Bedor ’10 heads to Nationals, four women earn All-Northeast Honors

By Hannah Vickers

Section: Sports

March 26, 2010

This weekend epeeist Will Bedor ’10 will be breaking new ground. For the first time in his career, he has qualified for the NCAA Championships, which will take place at Harvard University Thursday though Sunday.

“I’ve always been very close every year, I’ve always missed it by one or two spots,” Bedor told The Hoot. “This is the first time I’ve finally made it over the hill so I’d say that yeah, this makes it more special [to get there as a senior].”

Head Coach Bill Shipman sees Bedor’s success as a great capstone to his career at Brandeis.

“He had been a starter all four years, beating many of the best fencers in the [United States]” Coach Shipman said in an e-mail. “If he can keep his confidence and composure he has a chance to do well there.”

While Coach Shipman described the men’s fencing season overall as “a disappointing one in the win-loss column,” epee was always the group he could turn to for success.

“[They] were a very experienced group, and did well, but could not carry the team,” he explained.

Of the ten epeeists on the men’s team, half were seniors. Bedor will graduate in the spring along with Alex Clos, Alex Kasper, Jared Shackelford and Andrew Travis. Alex Brand and Jeff Cornejo, both sabre, will also be graduating in May.

While their absence will certainly be felt, Coach Shipman hopes it will give the younger fencers a chance to “step up and excel.”

Despite an extremely successful season for the women’s squad, none of the fencers qualified for a spot at Nationals.

“The women had an excellent season overall, finishing 20-9 and winning our conference title, 12v-0d,” Coach Shipman explained in an e-mail to The Hoot. “We won several very close meets, including our first ever win over UPenn, a national power in fencing, MIT, UNC, NYU and Brown.”

Coach Shipman always had faith in the women but was still a bit surprised by their performance given the team lost several senior starters last season. According to Coach Shipman, returning fencers stepped up to the plate while the rookies filled the void. The powerhouse squad earned national attention when four of their ranks were named Northeast Fencing Conference Champions. Anna Hanley ’11 and classmate Emma Larkin were named first team All-Conference and rookies Vikki Nunley and Zoe Messinger were named second team.

Hanley, a saberist, was named Fencer of the Year last year after going undefeated in NFC matches and this year held a commanding 22-3 record in the NFC with an overall record of 54-17. This is Larkin’s first mention from the NFC whose bronze medal epee performance at the Big One Tournament put her on the radar. Larkin also played a crucial role in the Judges conference victory by posting an 11-1 performance on the day.

Nunley, a foil fencer, finished out the season with a 60-25 record overall and a 28-6 record in the NFC. She went 3-0 against UPenn to help Brandeis defeat the Ivy for the first time.

Messinger, a saber fencer, started out her first year at Brandeis in a major way by going undefeated in the first Northeast Conference meet at Brown University.

“I had to prove myself then and there,” Messinger told The Hoot. “There was pressure to do well.”

Messinger kept up her performance and brought home a victory against UNC at the Duke Invitational when she went 3-0 to clinch the 15-12 win.

“This year I picked up the team mentality to go into everything with an open mind and learned that there is nothing to be nervous about,” Messinger explained. “We just go out there and have fun.”

The fun continued for the rookie when she had a 9-2 record at the Eric Sollee Invitational, a home meet, including going 5-0 in her final three matches. She was 42-49 overall on the season and 19-5 in the NFC.

“I am really happy with Second Team,” Messinger said. “It’s such an honor and I never expected it.”

“I am so happy I ended up at Brandeis,” she added. “I am really looking forward to next year.”

Sydney Reuben ’10 will be the only senior graduating this spring for the women’s squad. Reuben came back after a year abroad to have some really key performances.

“She had many important wins against our rivals in the conference, and particularly UPenn,” Coach Shipman said.

Bedor went into NCAA Regionals March 14 as the 13th seed but soon climbed well above that ranking, finishing things out in the sixth place spot. He went 15-8 overall and notched a win against the first place finisher James Hawrot of Harvard. Knowing he was able to take down Hawrot has certainly boosted his confidence going into this weekend.

“I’ve fenced a lot of these guys at various world cups and nationals so I’ve already experienced the way they fence,” he explained to The Hoot. “I know their talents and their technique, so I am definitely going into the competition with a bit of a competitive edge.”

Although Bedor has been fencing for nine years, this season he made a bit of a change. After some urging from his coaches, he altered his style, which he believes has helped him reach this point.

“These past four years [at Brandeis] have made me a good fencer and have definitely developed me as a person,” Bedor told The Hoot.

While this might be the last meet of his college career, Bedor hopes to continue competing “here and there” after graduation.

The NCAA Nationals are a round robin set up so Bedore will face every competitor. To prepare himself he is keeping up his practice schedule.

“Honestly I don’t know [my chances]. I’ve never been in such an intense level of competition before. These are the top 20 fencers in the country so we’re all at a certain level,” Bedor said.”

Despite his modesty, it is clear from his performance this year that Bedor has made it this far for a reason.

“He certainly belongs,” Coach Shipman said.

The Hoot wishes the best of luck to the graduating seniors and to Bedor this weekend.

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