En garde, ready, fence.
Penn fencing's season began at the Elite Invitational this past week, where the Quakers beat out the majority of the competition with wins over North Carolina, Air Force, and Northwestern. As a team, they fought a close battle to Ohio State, the previous second-ranked school in the country, and fell by a slim margin where the men lost 15-12, and the women 18-9.
The next opportunity to stick it to the competition will be from Nov. 10-13, where seven freshmen are headed to November's edition of the North American Cup (NAC) in Kansas City, Mo.
The seven freshmen going to Kansas City this weekend include Andrew Sun (men’s sabre), Miranda Gieg (women’s sabre), Michael Li (men’s foil), Nicole Wong (women’s foil), Nikola Damjanovic (men’s epee), Sean Wilson (men’s epee), and Emma Harris (women’s epee).
Each of the freshmen is competing individually, as they aspire to gain points through the NAC to qualify for the Junior National Team. At the end of the season if the fencers receive enough personal points, then the top four ranked players will be able to represent the United States in the World Championship.
The NAC, hosted by USA Fencing, begins with a round robin where the Quakers will fence the “pool” in five-touch bouts. Afterwards, there is a direct elimination bracket determined by the pool results where the match will be fenced in 15-touch bouts throughout each round.
“Most freshmen are on the high rankings; quite a few are on the national team," Coach Andy Ma said with a grin. “They are nice kids, good personality, and team-oriented. They are doing great; I think they are our future!”
With Sean Wilson, Andrew Sun, Michael Li, and Miranda Gieg all currently fencing for the US National Team, they're all hoping to maintain their place on the team and make the top four spots to fence at the World Championships. Nicole Wong, currently on the Singapore National Fencing Team, and Nikola Damjanovic, fencing for the Canadian National Team, also look to make their respective national rosters to compete in the World Championships next summer.
At this point in the season, the all-star freshman class is still getting acclimated to the college landscape. The coaches and Ivy League have high expectations for one of the most excellent recruiting classes in recent Penn history.
“We are trying to figure out where we are standing and what we need to work on,” Ma noted. “We don't want them getting injured when they work too hard, and when someone is practicing the wrong way, we try to correct their bad habits.”
At the moment, the team is still finding its footing before the bulk of the season draws near. The coaching staff and the players are already starting to form a strong chemistry.
With hopes up, this upcoming weekend, the talented young squadron of athletes, donned “the future,” will hopefully succeed in their matches to claim a victory in the NAC competition.
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