Oh the weather outside is frightful ... and it is apparently a bit too frightful for the Philadelphia Invitational that Penn Fencing was scheduled to host throughout Saturday and Sunday.
The decision to postpone the event was made Friday night due to the snow projections associated with this weekend’s blizzard, with Feb. 21 pinpointed as the tentative date for the tournament to now take place.
Following strong performances at last weekend’s Penn State Invitational, both the men’s (10-1) and women’s (7-3) teams had hoped to carry their momentum into this weekend against teams including TCNJ, Haverford, UNC and Duke.
While most students likely assumed events this weekend would be delayed or cancelled, very few know the process that teams go through to confirm cancellations.
Coach Andy Ma clarified the process, suggesting that transportation was the main complication that ultimately postponed the event.
“When we saw the forecast, we always knew postponing the event could be possible,” Ma said. “On Friday, eight teams contacted us and let us know they would not be coming. Another few teams were maybes. At that point, we knew we had to make the change.”
It also was important for Ma that the meet be rescheduled instead of canceled — every bout matters towards the ranking for the postseason NCAA Championships.
“We know that rescheduling the event makes our schedule slightly busier later on,” Ma admitted. “We need the matches though. We need to show the NCAA why we deserve to be up with the top teams.”
Psychologically, a scheduling change often tests the mental resolve in a team. However, Ma insisted that his team is still as focused as ever.
“We have a meet next weekend that will keep us in rhythm,” Ma said. “We also know how important that meet is specifically because we need to keep in shape and sustain our momentum.”
That meet — the upcoming Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Ill. — will be essential for the confidence of fencers on both teams, with the schedule looking especially busy come February.
If the tentatively rescheduled date of Feb. 21 holds, the Quakers will face three tournaments in nine days from Feb. 20-28, including back-to-back competitions on the 20th and 21st. Not only would that provide a true assessment of the fencers’ stamina, but it is also the busiest stretch that Penn fencing has seen in more than a decade.
The weekend doubleheader in late February would be possible due to the current schedule, which pencils in the Temple Invitational for 20th — just a short trip down the road for the Red and Blue.
The busy schedule might worry some coaches, but Ma maintains that he feels his team is ready for the challenge.
“Penn has very good fencers and they know how to deal with tough stretches of matches,” Ma said. “It’s all a part of being an athlete.”
Although postponements are by no means common, Ma also acknowledges that the team is prepared for weather-related obstacles at this time of year.
“You never expect a cancellation, so of course we have to adapt,” Ma said. “But at the same time, it is Philadelphia, and it is winter. We knew weather would affect us at some point.
“Weather is weather. We control what we can control, and that’s our fencing.”
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