As a big weekend looms on the horizon for Penn fencing, the Quakers are as calm and confident as they have been all season.
Coming off a successful showing two weeks ago at the Penn State Invitational, both Penn’s men’s and women’s fencing squads look to continue to harness that momentum at the Philadelphia Invitational this weekend as both teams prepare for the Ivy Championships next month.
“Everyone’s looking good right now,” junior captain Jason Chang said. “We had the [North American Cup] over this past weekend where we had a lot of great performances and finishes across the board and we’re looking for a very strong result this weekend.”
In Virginia Beach a week ago, the men’s squad finished 3-2 while the women finished with a clean sweep of their competition, 5-0. The men’s only defeats came to North Carolina and Penn State, and the squad looked solid, despite having five of its top fencers out of the lineup.
“The last time we did not send the full team,” coach Andy Ma said. “This weekend the men’s team will be full power.
“We aren’t fencing Penn State this weekend, we’re fencing teams much weaker.”
The Red and Blue will be looking for a hometown sweep this weekend, where the only real competition the women’s team will face will come from Temple and Northwestern. And Ma is confident that his team can break through for victories this weekend.
“Two weeks ago, we beat Temple,” Ma said. “If we fence well we should beat Temple again, and hopefully Northwestern as well.”
The women’s team will look to repeat its performance against the Owls from Jan. 12 and build on the success it has has thus far in 2014. In their last matchup with Temple, the Quakers won with all three weapons and took the match, 17-10.
The men’s side will go against North Carolina, Sacred Heart and Duke at the Invitational. Penn is looking for a better showing against the Tar Heels than when they last did battle in Virginia.
“The men’s team should have no problem,” Ma said. “We should beat everyone as usual, because our team is very strong. [The other teams] are not very strong, we have beaten them every year.”
This weekend looks to be a successful one for both of Penn’s teams, and the team has placed an emphasis on the refinement of its movements in practice this week.
“Since we’re entering the bulk of our season starting this weekend,” Chang said, “It’s just mainly about maintaining our physical conditioning, the small details like making sure our point control is good and our movements are smooth and just boosting our confidence in getting ready for Ivy League Championships in two weeks.”
If everything falls into place as it should, both Penn’s men’s and women’s teams could be able to walk away from this weekend without even so much as a scratch.