Last weekend, the Brandeis fencing team competed in the NCAA Northeast Regional Tournament, hosted by Cornell University, and three fencers finished in the top seven of their respective weapons. After this weekend’s competition, Brandeis will send two women’s sabre fencers, Jessica Morales ’23 and Maggie Shealy ’23, to compete for the Judges at the 2020 NCAA National Collegiate Fencing Championships in Detroit, MI.
Both Morales and Shealy, seeded sixth and 14th respectively, boasted outstanding performances for the Judges. Each fencer went 6-0 in the first round of competition, easily advancing to the next round. Morales also had an impressive plus-16 touch differential, tying for the highest indicator, and Shealy was not far behind in third with a plus-11 indicator. Next they moved into the semifinal round where Morales finished 6-2 with a plus-four indicator and huge wins over St. John’s University, Yale University, Sacred Heart University and Brown University to advance to the next round. Shealy also made it to the next round, coming in at 11th place out of the 12 spots available. She went 3-3 in the semifinals with a plus-one indicator. She fought off Cornell, Columbia and Yale to secure her spot.
Overall, the women’s sabre final round was a tough competition. The top three of the women’s sabre all finished 8-3 while the next five competitors finished 6-5; this included Shealy and Morales. The results put Shealy in sixth place with a plus-one indicator and Morales just one spot behind in seventh with a zero-indicator. After these finishes, both women will be the first to represent Brandeis women’s fencing in the NCAAs since 2014. To continue, they are the first two women to go in the same year since 2004.
For the men’s fencing team, Ben Rogak ’23, seeded 24th, made it to the final 12 of the Northeast Regional. In the opening round, Rogak went 4-2 with a plus-nine indicator, securing him the seventh spot in the semifinals. In the semis, he went 4-2 again with a plus-six indicator. He also boasted impressive wins over Harvard, NYU, Yale and Columbia. The final 12 was extremely competitive on the men’s side with all 12 fencers earning at least four wins. Rogak finished an impressive seventh place, but given his original seeding it is uncertain if it will be enough for him to make it to nationals. Rogak would be the first Brandeis men’s epee fencer to reach the NCAA Championships since 2011.
Other impressive Brandeis finishes include Jared Sugarman ’21, who finished 26th in the men’s foil. For the women’s foil Jessica Gates ’20 took home 31st. Lucas Lin ’22 picked up a 29th place finish in the men’s sabre, and Jess Spear ’21 finished in 30th for the women’s epee.
Shealy and Morales have each had very successful first seasons for the Judges. Shealy led the women’s team with a total of 69 wins and was named UAA Fencer of the Week three times throughout the season. She was also named first-time All-Northeast Fencing Conference. Morales was just behind her, with the second most victories at 63. She also maintained the best winning percentage, at .875 with only 19 losses. Morales was also named UAA Fencer of the Week five times. Morales has also competed internationally for Colombia at the Junior Pan Am Games in February, where she received the bronze medal.
The two fencers will compete at the NCAA Championships on Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20 in Detroit, MI.
As of publication time, NCAA President Mark Emmet and the Board of Governors have cancelled all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships amidst the evolving public health threat of COVID-19, according to the NCAA’s website.