Penn fencing freshman Adam Green has a point when he says, “We fencers don’t have any harsher critics than ourselves.”
Both Green and fellow sabre Julian Merchant traveled to Milwaukee, Wisc., this past weekend to participate in the November North American Cup where they finished 21st and 32nd, respectively, out of 210 fencers.
While most casual observers would promptly deem these finishes to be impressive, Green isn’t so eager to bask in the praise.
“There’s sort of a disparity between the fencing world and the regular world,” Green said. “For me, top 32 is not a very good day, so don’t be fooled.”
Green, although only a freshman, is accustomed to this national level of competition and expects more from himself.
“I didn’t fence as well as I’d have hoped. I’ve done like 50 of these North American Cups over the past eight years,” Green said. “Some of them have been really great, and some of them leave something to be desired.”
Merchant, a second team All-Ivy selection as a freshman last year, is also no stranger to strong competition, and he, like his coach, has higher goals than top 32.
“I would say that it was a pretty good weekend for both Julian and Adam,” coach Andy Ma said. “They could get top eight or top 16 though, so it wasn’t super. But it certainly wasn’t bad.”
Luckily for Penn, the NAC is strictly an individual meet, so the fencers’ dissatisfying finishes did not come at the expense of their team. The meet’s timing was simply a result of the individual and NCAA seasons colliding, providing Green and Merchant additional opportunities to practice their crafts.
“You do sort of have two races to run simultaneously,” Green said. “This was an individual meet, but I’m still a part of Penn’s team. That’s the most important thing to me. Even if it doesn’t go the way you want it to, putting in that little bit extra, coming out to the North American Cup, is worth it because you’re practicing for the season as well.”
The disparity between the fencing world and the regular world must be even greater than Green says, because between the top 32 finishes, the extra fencing, and the practice against highly touted competition, it seems like Adam Green and Julian Merchant enjoyed a pretty successful weekend.
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