Standout sophomore fencers Eli Polston, Jonathan Alperstein, Annie Innes-Gold and Kirsten Denman have had remarkable success and shown strong leadership this season. These four athletes have proved their athletic prowess and earned conference acclaim. The team’s young talent gives them hope for even more success in the future. Polston was named the Northeast Fencing Conference Male Fencer of the Year and was also awarded NFC First Team All-Star. Polston’s Fencer of the Year title is Vassar’s first in program history. Denman was also crowned NFC First Team All-Star due to her stunning 89.39 percent winning percentage. Both Alperstein and Innes-Gold were titled NFC Second Team All-Stars for their strong conference performances throughout the season.
Coach Bruce Gillman shared, “We had a very successful season and Eli, Jonathan, Kirsten and Annie were a big part of it.” Both Polston and Alperstein led the men’s team to an impressive season with a 25-14 record, while Annie and Kirsten led the Brewers to a victorious record of 24-23.” Gillman continued, “Eli had a great Northeast Conference season this year. He had the best record of all men’s fencers in the conference across all weapons. He was especially strong at Boston College this past January, beating Fencers from BC, Brandeis, MIT and Brown.”
Leading the sabre team, Polston won numerous bouts against fierce competition and posted many undefeated wins along the way. In the beginning of the season, Polston posted 13 wins in the first Northeast Conference meet, going undefeated against Boston College with a record of 3-0. His contribution led the Brewers to victory against Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College and Tufts University.
Then, on Feb. 7, Polston had an untarnished finish as he posted 12 wins and led the sabre team to a 38-7 victory. In this conference match, Polston swept the competition with three wins against New Hampshire, two against Dartmouth College, two against Boston College and three victories against Sacred Heart University. His victories over Sacred Heart led Vassar to its first win over the Pioneers since 2009.
Other notable achievements of Polston’s include earning both of Vassar’s wins against New York University, finishing 2-1 against nationally ranked Columbia University and helping the sabre team earn second place at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Championship. To round out an impressive season, Polston fought hard to the leaderboards as he was awarded 18th out of 33 competitors in the NCAA Northeast Regionals.
Alperstein also steered the men’s team to victory through tremendous epee performances. Alperstein stated, “One of the highlights of the season was the epee squad win against Brown, Harvard and Penn State.” Nevertheless, he had many other high points throughout his successful season.
In the first Northeast Conference matchup, Alperstein topped both Boston College and Yale University with 3-0 records and bested Tufts twice on Jan. 25. Alperstein then went on to secure nine wins in dual matches against the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College and University of Massachusetts. With two wins in epee bouts, Alperstein helped Vassar conquer the defending NCAA champion Columbia University.
“Not only did he do well in the NFC this year, but he finished second at NEIFC Championships as part of our strong epee squad that went 27-3 on the day, winning us the Vitale Cup for the first time,” elaborated Coach Gillman. Then finally, to top off his strong season, Alperstein placed 31st at the NCAA Northeast Regionals. Coach Gillman beamed, “Jonathan has been our strongest epee fencer for the last two years. He commands respect both from his teammates and his opponents.”
The success continues on the women’s team under the leadership of foilist Kirsten Denman and sabreur Annie Innes-Gold. For the second year, Denman and Innes-Gold have dominated the competition and led the Brewers to triumphant victories.
Denman continues to impress the fencing world with her tenacity and hard work. “She has been our strongest foilist for the past two seasons despite having acute back pain that is often very debilitating and limiting,” explained Coach Gillman. Nevertheless, Denman does not let anything stop her as she continues to bring home big wins for the Brewers.
In the first Northeast Fencing Conference meet, Denman ended with 14 wins, defeating MIT and Boston College twice each and dominating Tufts and Brown with perfect 3-0 records. On Jan. 30 although Yale University edged Vassar 5-4 in a tough match, Denman showed great determination as she earned three wins against the Bulldogs. Then in the last NFC matches of the season, Kirsten finished with an impressive 11-1 record in Northhampton, MA.
Against New York University, Denman shined through the competition for the second year in a row. Last season, she led the team to its first ever victory over NYU. As a sophomore, Denman ended with a perfect 3-0 win over the Beavers as she outscored her opponents 15-7.
To finish an outstanding season, Denman was awarded the individual foil Champion of the Eastern Women’s Fencing Conference with wins over Stevens, Haverford and John’s Hopkins. Additionally, Denman finished second in the NFC in foil and ended in 22nd place in the NCAA Northeast Regionals. Overall, Denman had an impressive season and looks to bring Vassar even more success over the next two years.
While Denman led the foils team, Innes-Gold conquered sabre competition in another extraordinary season. Starting off strong, Innes- Gold won 16 bouts of 18 in the first Northeast conference meet as she defeated MIT, Smith, Boston College, Tufts, Brandeis and Brown. Innes-Gold was also the only sabre to defeat Columbia, whose team is top-ranked by the NCAA.
At the Eastern Women’s Fencing Conference Championships, Annie was crowned the sabre title as she topped No. 1 seed Julia Yang from Stevens Institute in an exciting 15-13 victory. Going into the EWFC Championships, Innes-Gold was seeded sixth for the individual bouts competition and had to face fencers from John Hopkins and Stevens who had defeated her earlier in the day. Nevertheless, Innes-Gold competed confidently and eliminated the top three seeds to claim her title. Coach Gillman remarked with a smirk, “I was impressed with the way she was able to change her tactics in order to do that.”
As a strong leader, Innes-Gold led the sabre team to earn seventh place in the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Championships and then individually attained 35th place at the NCAA Northeast Regional matchup. From the first to the very last bout, she proved to be a very talented contender and found much success along the way.
As Innes-Gold stated, “I thought we had a really good season overall. This season was great because we had strength in the foil, epee and saber squads, so we didn’t have to rely too much on any one squad to carry the team. One highlight was having so many members of our team medal at the NEIFCs.”
These special four fencers look forward to a bright 2016-2017 season as they continue to grow and lead the Brewers. Innes-Gold hoped, “I’m looking forward to trying for an even better season next year, and hopefully as a team we can win the Northeast Fencing Conference Championships.”
The positive attitude continues on the men’s side as Alperstein expects the team to continue their success and clench first place in the conference next season.
Polson agreed with Jonathan and added, “We are looking really good next season, we are losing only two starters on the men’s side and picking up some great foil fencers next year. I think the team will really come together and it is going to be a great year. I am also excited to get the chance to try once again to make NCAA Championships, many people were close last year and I am excited to try again next year.”
Eli Polston, Jonathan Alperstein, Kirsten Denman and Annie Innes-Gold triumphed time and time again in their 2015-2016 season. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this dominant core of athletes is that, to the delight of Coach Gillman and horror of other conference teams, they have more time to grow and compete for the Brewers.