It hasn’t taken long for freshman fencer Luona Wang to write herself into history.
In her debut appearance at the NCAA Championships, Wang became Penn’s first women’s fencer to appear in a championship bout since Jane Hall in 1986.
“I had so much fun,” Wang said after the competition. “I definitely had a goal of going into the championship, to make first team All-American and I exceeded that goal and I’m really happy with that.”
Wang was quick to make the trip to Columbus, Ohio, one to remember. The rookie foil won 12 of 14 bouts in the round-robin to move to the semifinals where she defeated the first seed, Mona Shaito of Ohio State.
“I kind of had a rough start the second day. I lost three in a row but quickly found my rhythm back,” said Wang, who would finish the tournament 17-6 overall. “[Mona and I] fence together at North American Cups. I’ve lost to her [in the past], but recently I’ve been beating her and I beat her again.”
The semifinal victory set up a bout against junior Evgeniya Kirpicheva of St. John’s, a two-time semifinalist. However, Wang spotted Kirpicheva an early lead, and couldn’t recover.
“I’m content with second place, but I’m not satisfied so I definitely have next year to look forward to.”
Buoyed by Wang’s performance, Penn finished seventh overall in the combined men’s and women’s team competition. Although Wang was the only first team All-American for the Quakers, she was not the only Penn fencer honored.
Senior saber Dominika Franciszkowicz and junior epee Amrit Bhinder finished 10th and 12th, respectively. Freshman Sarah Parmacek barely missed the cut for All-American honors with a 13th-place finish in the foil.
On the men’s side, Penn was led by Vidur Kapur, who was making his fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Championships. The senior foil came up big with his best ever finish, but missed out on a chance for the semifinals by just one win.
Penn had two other solid performances from junior Evan Prochniak and freshman Rene Gannon-O’Gara. Prochniak won 13 of 23 bouts to finish in eighth place in the saber. Gannon-O’Gara also won 13 of 23 en route to a 10th-place finish in the men’s epee.
“It’s a great accomplishment that our program is getting better and better,” Wang said “It shows what Coach [Andy] Ma’s been doing is paying off and it’s really been great.”
Sports Editor Mike Wisniewski contributed reporting to this article