Over the weekend of April 6th and 7th 2019, Big Red Fencing traveled to Philadelphia to take on forty-six of the toughest teams in the country at the U.S. College Club National Championships. Throughout the grueling two days of competition, they competed against powerhouse teams like Michigan, Texas, Florida, Navy, Cal-Berkeley, etc. After a day of preliminary rounds, the men’s sabre squad, led by seniors Jiayi Lu and Daniel Timmins, along with junior Dylan Tallman and freshman Anubhav Adhikari started day two as the 17th seed. They capitalized on that spot surprising a tough University of Connecticut team, then went on to shut out number one seed Cal-Berkeley before losing to Navy (who went on to win the competition). The Denison sabreists bounced back from that tough loss by beating both Tufts and Clemson on their way to an extraordinary 6th place finish! The women’s epee squad, made up of juniors Hayley LeBlanc and Tuuli Qin-Terrill and sophomore Diyanshu Emandi, started day two as the 8th seed then used their strong position to crush Clemson and UC Santa Barbara before succumbing to a powerful Michigan squad. They finished the day in 8th place after beating Georgia Tech and finally losing a nailbiter to Smith College. Coach Grandbois’ goal for the team was to get one squad into the top 8 this year, so to have two squads achieve this remarkable result was incredible, especially for a team that’s only three years old. The overall team placed sixteenth largely on the strength of those two results but also through some tough fighting by the men’s and women’s foil squads who placed 21st and 24th respectively and the men’s epee squad which also placed 24th. “We’re going to keep building on this momentum,” Coach Grandbois announced. “We’ve had a remarkable season in many ways, but we’ve also been hurt by the lack of depth on our women’s team. The flu devastated us at the Midwest Championships and sickness and injury hurt us at nationals, too.” He went on to say that recruiting more women remains his primary goal for next year. “If we can do that,” he said. “I think we have every reason to believe we can crack the top eight in the country and put some squads on the medals podium.”
Denison Men Move Up Four Spots to Take 9th at Midwest Conference Championships!
The Big Red continues their upward momentum, placing higher each year at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships. Two years earlier, in their first championships, the men placed 17th. Last year they placed 13th. This year, they continued the trend of moving up by four spots and placed 9th in an extremely strong field. The men were led by the sabre squad's (Charlie Lu, Daniel Timmins, Dylan Tallman, Anubhav Adhikari, Jeff Stevens, and Quinn Plaga) incredible 6th place finish. The women's team was also on pace to beat their amazing first performance last year of an 8th place finish, but the flu got the better of the women's sabre squad, and they had to withdraw resulting in an overall 14th place finish for the women. Coach Grandbois notes that had the sabre squad competed, the women's team would have very probably finished 7th. He adds, "We're going to keep growing and keep a heavy push on recruiting women. That way, even if the flu gets us next year we'll have back ups who can step in and compete. I fully expect the women's team to be in the top 6 next year."
The Big Red Competes at Notre Dame in the prestigious DeCicco Duals!
The Big Red fencing team entered Notre Dame's Castellon Family Fencing Center a bit wide eyed and open mouthed. The facilities were extraordinary as would befit the #1 team in the country. The Denison fencers knew it would be both a difficult and long day as they would not only fence #1 ranked Notre Dame but many of the top college club teams in the country, including #1 Michigan, #3 Florida, #8 Chicago, and #9 Michigan, State, among others. After a slow start, as they worked through their fear, the Big Red fencers caught fire, beating Florida, Chicago, and Case Western, and coming within two bouts of Michigan State and Purdue. They were finally ready to face the Fighting Irish. They fought hard, with several close 5-4 losses, proving they could stand toe-to-toe with the best in the country. But, in the end, only one Denison fencer was able to steal a victory from the Irish. Thomas Hellman took it to the next level when he kept Denison from the shut out fate that many other Notre Dame opponents suffered that day. Having gained confidence from their first visit to Notre Dame, the Big Red fencers look forward to returning next year and improving their record.
Denison beats Michigan State for the first time in Indiana nailbiter!
The young but determined Denison Fencing Team beat 7th ranked Michigan State (College Club National Rankings) in a nailbiter 27-27 victory on indicators at the tough Indiana Duals this past November 10th, 2018. They also had an impressive 46-8 win against Wisconsin, finishing the day 2-3 with hard fought losses to Indiana, Purdue, and U of Chicago. While the team overall didn't secure as many victories as they hoped, several squads posted amazing results, including a 5-0 sweep by women's epee and a 4-1 record in men's sabre. All five of their opponents were ranked in the top 20 among club teams in the nation, so Coach Grandbois knew this would be a difficult day for his young team. However, as seems to be the case with each meet, the Big Red Fencers proved themselves able to fence with anyone. "Our goal this year is a top 8 finish at the Midwest Championships in February," Coach Grandbois went on to say, "and a top 16 finish at the nationals in April. With hard work, I know this team will get there."
Denison goes 4-2 at OSU first meet of 2018-2019 season!
The Big Red fielded their largest fencing team yet, bringing thirty fencers to OSU for the duals meet on September 30. In fact, the Denison team was the second biggest team out of the ten teams in attendance. The Big Red fencers opened the day with a close 27-27 match against Indiana, Denison winning the match on indicators. They followed with three more solid victories against Iowa, Case Western, and Illinois respectively. Coach Grandbois rallied the team before their last two tough matches against Michigan, the #1 club team in the country, and OSU, the #2 varsity team in the country, by saying that if they beat Michigan he’d shave his head. He also told them that he would buy dinner for any fencers who won matches against OSU. Though the team didn’t beat Michigan, the men’s foil squad made up of juniors Mihai Fratian and Thales Zang, and sophomores Jacob Chreky and Lenz Blix, upset a strong Michigan foil squad, proving they’ll be contenders for hardware at the Midwest Championships. And juniors Hayley LeBlanc and Tuuli Qin-Terrill each won bouts against OSU in women’s epee. It looks like Coach Grandbois will be buying some dinners!
Denison Men’s Epee Squad Cracks the Sweet Sixteen at the 2018 USACFC College Club Nationals
On April 7-8, 2018, the Big Red fielded their first complete men’s and women’s fencing team at the USACFC College Club Nationals in Knoxville, Tennessee. The two-day event is a grueling endurance test where each squad competes in a round-robin pool with twelve other squads on day one for seeding in the championships on day two. There is also an individual tournament at the end of day one consisting of the top sixteen fencers from that day’s results. Freshman foilist Amber Wardzala missed making the individual top sixteen by one touch, an extraordinary accomplishment for a freshman. The fighting on day one took its toll in the form of a sprained ankle for freshman sabreist Sé Difilippo, which meant the women’s sabre squad would be a fencer short on day two, giving up three forfeits in every match. Rather than be daunted by the seeming impossibility of beating another squad without their third sabreist, the women’s sabre squad, made up of sophomore Alex Terlesky and freshman Ellen Pitstick, rose to the occasion, beating both the University of Wisconsin and University of Vermont and almost upsetting Georgetown in a match that came down to the last touch. In other highlights, the men’s epee squad (made up of senior Robert Templehof, juniors Brandon Shull and Nick Zaris, and freshman Thomas Hellman) pulled off a huge upset by beating 10th seed University of Wisconsin to crack the Sweet Sixteen, marking the first time a Denison squad has done so. The all freshmen women’s foil squad (Amber Wardzala, Corinne Keefer, and Diyanshu Emandi) nearly made the Sweet Sixteen, losing out to Georgia Tech by one touch. They finished in 21st place. The Big Red set a high bar for themselves placing 23rd out of 40 teams overall with the men’s team placing 24th and the women’s team placing 22nd. “I continue to be so very proud of these young athletes,” Coach Grandbois said. “Through adversity, injuries, blood, sweat, and tears, they never stopped fighting, never stopped pushing each other to be the best fencers they can be, to be their best selves.” He added. “We’ll be back next year pushing hard to improve on the bar that’s been set.”
Denison Women Crack the top 8 at 2018 Midwest Conference Championships!
On February 24-25, the Big Red sent twenty-six fencers to the Midwest Conference Championships at OSU, the third largest contingent of the twenty-three teams present. The only larger teams were OSU and Northwestern. Despite a field consisting of several Div I powerhouses and many schools with longstanding fencing traditions, the young, Denison women cracked the top 8 in all three weapons: foil, epee, and sabre, placing 8th overall in their first ever conference championship. The Denison Men, competing in their second conference championship were able to significantly improve on their final ranking, ending the championship ranked 13th, an improvement of four places from last year. Highlights of the weekend also included some great individual results. Several fencers made the round of 32: Jacob Chreky, Imad Khan, Dylan Tallman, Tuuli Qin-Terril, and Amber Wardzala and many who didn’t still achieved personal bests. “I’m so proud of these young athletes,” Coach Grandbois said after the meet. “They dug deep and found a strength they didn’t know they had. Many of them fenced the best I’ve ever seen them fence.” He went on to say, “Though the results were better than I’d hoped, particularly for the women, we also saw how far we have to go, how much work we still have to do if we want to be the best. And it’s my goal to see this young team making the top four and holding one of the trophies at the award’s presentation. Just give us a couple years, and these freshman and sophomores will be standing on the podium.”
Denison Fencing makes history beating two Div I rivals!
On January 20, 2018, Denison's young but ambitious team took out two Div I rivals at the recent Cleveland State Duals. Denison beat Cleveland State 36 to 18 and knocked off Detroit Mercy in a nailbiter 28-25 win! Denison also beat the University of Indiana's club 37-17 before losing its last three matches against Case Western Reserve, Michigan State, and Michigan. All in all, an extraordinarily successful day in a field of tough competition. There's no doubt the Midwest Conference is starting to take notice!
Denison Women Make Their Point!
Last year, the men’s team made history by joining the Midwest Fencing Conference. This year, the women seized the moment as the Big Red sent their first ever women’s fencing team to compete alongside the men at the Ohio State Duals meet on October first. All in all, Denison had twenty-three fencers competing against Midwest Conference powerhouses Ohio State, Case Western Reserve, Purdue, and the University of Michigan as well as the Universities of Iowa and Illinois. While the men’s team overpowered Iowa, the young women’s team, led by senior Mattie Shepard beat both Iowa and Illinois, helping the men to an overall team victory against Illinois. The Big Red women fencers are a young team. Shepard (who led the women with five victories on the day) is joined by freshman: Sé Difilippo, Ellen Pitstick, Madie Mendels, Amber Wardzala, and Diyanshu Emandi and sophomores Eva Jorn and Tuuli Qin-Terril, The men’s team is not much older with freshman Jacob Chreky, Jeff Stevens, Quinn Plaga, Lenz Blix, and Jonathan Vo, and sophomores Mihai Fratian, Dylan Tallman, John Fernow, and Thales Zhang, joining the more seasoned fencers, juniors Charlie Lu, Imad Khan, and Brandon Shull, as well as senior Robert Templehof (who led the team with seven victories). “It was an incredible day,” Coach Grandbois said afterward. “They were relative beginners facing world class competition, but the team pulled together in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The camaraderie. The way they supported and cheered for each other. The fact that they never stopped fighting. Every fencer contributed, and almost every one had a victory. Both the men and women’s teams made their mark, and the Midwest Conference stood up and took notice. Several coaches told me how impressed they were.”
The Big Red competes in its first USACFC National Championship!
On April 8th and 9th, 2017, Denison’s fencing team added another first to their list of this year’s many accomplishments by placing 26th out of 34 teams at the USACFC National College Club Championship! Highlights included the foil squad’s (George Malloch Brown, Clem Pearson, and Mihai Fratian) victory over Clemson along with exciting victories over Boston University, Georgetown, Xavier, Tufts, Oberlin, and George Washington University, the sabre squad’s (Charlie Lu, Edwin St. Hilaire, and Dylan Tallman) victories over the University of Pittsburgh, Oberlin, University of Indiana, and the University of New Hampshire, and the epee squad’s (Robert Templehof, Will Ackermann, and John Fernow) victories over the University of Vermont and Liberty University, along with an exciting upset over Purdue.
Coach Grandbois looks forward to returning next year with both a men’s and women’s team when the USACFC National College Club Championship will be held in Knoxville, Tennessee. He went on to say, “I fully expect a few of the squads will crack the sweet sixteen next year, and I believe a couple of our individual fencers will be contenders for All-American status as well. We are a team on the move.”
Denison Competes in the 2017 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships for the First Time
On February 25th and 26th, the young Denison Men’s Fencing Team made history by competing in their first Midwest Fencing Conference Championships and placing 17th out of 23 teams overall, finishing ahead of rival Oberlin College. The Midwest Fencing Conference is different from other athletic conferences in that it includes Div I varsity powerhouses, such as Ohio State, University of Detroit, and Cleveland State, as well as Div III varsity teams like Lawrence University and club teams from schools as diverse as the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Purdue.
Day one of the competition is an individual event that determines seeding for the team event on day two. Sophomore George Malloch Brown led the mostly freshman and sophomore squad by placing 18th out of a seventy-two fencer field in foil. Sophomore sabreist Charlie Lu and junior epeeist Robert Templehof also shined with 30th (out of 62) and 49th (out of 80) place finishes respectively.
On day two, the Denison foil squad made up of Malloch Brown and freshmen Clem Pearson and Gavin Thomas took out the University of Iowa in a hard fought 5-4 match where every fencer contributed before losing to Div III varsity Lawrence University. Lawrence went on to finish 3rd in men’s foil. The sabre squad made up of Charlie Lu and sophomores Daniel Timmins and Edwin St. Hilaire, along with freshman Dylan Tallman, beat the University of Wisconsin, Madison 5-4 before falling to Div I varsity University of Detroit, Mercy, who also went on to place 3rd. The epee squad made up of Templehof and freshmen Will Ackermann, John Fernow, and Federico Read Grullon drew a tough Northwestern University in the first round of direct elimination and were knocked out early. Despite the disappointing team losses, Coach Grandbois said he couldn’t be more proud, adding, “To place 17th out of 23 extremely experienced teams is quite an accomplishment for these young athletes. I have no doubt that within a year or two they will be placing in the top eight as a team and that we will have a few fencers qualify for All-Conference. Further, I’m looking forward to taking a women’s team next year.
Denison Joins Midwest Fencing Conference--2016
The Denison Swashbucklers took a giant stride forward this year by joining the Midwest Fencing Conference, a conference that includes club, Div I, Div II, and Div III varsity teams. Competing in the first Duals meet of the season, Denison beat all expectations, placing fourth out of an extremely difficult eight-team field. After beginning the day with a hard-fought 10 -17 loss to Oberlin, team captains George Malloch Brown, Daniel Timmins, and Will Ackermann rallied the Swashbucklers to successive victories over Bowling Green State (20-7), Xavier University (22-5), host school, Case Western Reserve (16-11), and finally Oakland University (24-3). The winning streak ended with losses to the University of Michigan and Cleveland State—two of the best teams in the conference. Some of the highlights of the day include the epee squad’s nail-biter over Case Western—a victory that was especially sweet because double threat, junior Robert Templehof, in true team spirit, stepped onto the epee squad after training in foil all season, scoring eight victories on the day. Other highlights included freshmen Gavin Thomas and John Fernow winning five and four bouts respectively after only two months of experience! Also with only two months experience, junior Mattie Shepard proudly represented Denison’s women’s team with four victories on the day. Coach Grandbois says, “Denison’s team is off to a fantastic start. I really didn’t expect us to win this many at our first meet. I’m really proud of these athletes.” He adds, “We are a growing team, and we are still looking for more members, especially women.”