Penn fencing in a New York state of mind
The women’s team looks to repeat, while the men hope to move on from disappointing Ivy Champs finish
February 24, 2012, 1:19 am·
That’s how long the Penn fencing team has had to brood over a disappointing finish to the Ivy season.
But now everything has changed. Come Sunday, both the men’s and women’s squads will wipe away any memories of the Ivy Championships and begin preparations for the NCAA Championships.
Those preparations begin with a trip to New York for the second annual U.S. Collegiate Weapon Squad Championships.
The women’s team is the defending champions at the Weapon Squad Championships. Last year, Penn’s foil and epee teams both made the finals before falling to Brown and Columbia, respectively. Nevertheless, the team was crowned overall champions.
“It was a good feeling,” sophomore foil Wendy Zhao said. “It was us performing to our regular level. Going towards this year, it sets the standard for us this year. There [are] a lot of expectations and we expect to live up to them.”
“This year our women’s foil is much stronger than last year, and if every team member puts together on that day, I think we have a good chance to win,” coach Andy Ma added.
Over the past two weeks, the team has worked to improve its fitness, according to Zhao. At the NCAA regionals, the bouts are five-touch bouts and fencers go through about 15 bouts in a day.
The men also hope to rebound from Ivies.
The Quakers entered the championship tournament undefeated and dangerous, even notching a win over No. 1 Penn State earlier in the season. But a heartbreaking opening loss to Harvard, 14-13, set the tone and Penn limped to a 2-3 finish.
“Sometimes [if you are] undefeated you feel a little over-confident,” Ma said. “Sometimes you fence someone and you underestimate them. It’s mental, psychological.”
The two-week layoff has allowed the team a chance to recover, reexamine areas of improvement and have a chance to compete with a fresh mind.
“Winning and losing, that’s a part of sport,” Ma said. “No one wins all the time. This time we were very close, by one touch, to [beating] Harvard. We are level there. We were just unlucky. I told them we are going to focus on this weekend.”