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.”
George Malloch Brown Qualifies for 2016 Junior Olympics in Foil and Epee!
Denison’s double-threat, George Malloch Brown ’19 qualified for the Junior Olympics in two events with a gold medal in epee and silver in the foil competition at the Columbus division qualifying event this past weekend of December 13. This remarkable achievement represents the first time a Denison fencer has qualified for this prestigious event where the nations top under-20 fencers will compete. In speaking about George, Coach Peter Grandbois commented “He is such a pleasure to have on the team. Not only is he immensely talented in both foil and epee (two of the three weapons in fencing), he is an ideal role model of sportsmanship. I’m looking forward to seeing how he measures up to the nation’s best fencers at the Junior Olympics in Cleveland in February.”