Feb. 6, 2006
Most Stanford students would be ecstatic to spend a weekend in Las Vegas. For seven members of the fencing team, however, this weekend's Duel in the Desert is just one small step towards a much larger goal.
"The Duel in the Desert is not an NCAA Tournament," said senior All-American Martin Lee, who explained the event was an individual tournament intended to prepare the squad for postseason play. "I hope that our team members will get a feel for competition and support each other as much as possible."
Unlike Lee, coach Lisa Milgram stressed the importance of the tournament, describing it as "a national competition and one that is the strongest on the west coast."
"We are hoping to see great things," Milgram said.
The Cardinal come off success in Chicago, where they defeated nine of ten opponents - only defending champion Notre Dame topped Stanford. Coming off that strong performance, All-American senior captain Steve Gerberman believes this year's team is capable of contending for national honors.
"This year our team is the strongest it has been in a few years. This is mostly due to a great freshman class that's complemented by a strong and dedicated upperclass," Gerberman said.
Milgram also noted the infusion of new talent. "We are hoping to see great results from freshmen Teddy Levitt, Brittany Leader, Clayton Kenney, Dan Tucker and Eva Jellison."
The respect on the squad runs both ways. Tucker praised the leaders on the team, describing Gerberman as "a great asset and leader who is always willing to offer constructive criticism."
The team chemistry is fostered by a strong coaching staff, including Olympic gold medalist George Pogosov.
"He's the life of the team," said Tucker.
"We are such a close team," sophomore Rebecca Illowsky said. "I'm looking forward to the Duel in the Desert because we do not get to watch each other compete that often, and [at Vegas] we are able to cheer each other on."