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Penn sabre Mindy Nguyen finished fourth at the IFAs, leading a sabre squad that finished second in the meet in only its second year of competition. (Theodore Schweitz/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

After a season full of pleasant surprises, the Penn women's fencing team finished its winter campaign rather fittingly at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships last weekend. In the team competition, the Quakers moved up one spot from last year, coming in fourth place in a field of 14 teams despite not fencing with their regular lineup. The Penn epee squad was short one fencer after senior Kari Coley, who took first place in her last trip to IFAs two years ago, and freshman reserve Keren Freide were both unable to fence due to last-minute emergencies. Freshman Karen Siegal, a foilist who had never picked up an epee before, filled the third epee spot and fenced well enough to help the Quakers place sixth in the epee competition. The Quakers' foil squad also finished sixth in the first day of competition. But the real story of the meet was Penn's sabre squad, which placed an impressive second in its weapon. All three Quakers' sabres advanced to the individual competition the next day -- a feat matched only by powerhouse St. John's, which ran away with the team title. "The sabre squad has shown a tremendous up curve in the later part of the season," Penn fencing coach Dave Micahnik said. "They've done extremely well." After spending much of last season and the early part of this season adjusting to new weapons and new opponents, the Penn sabre's second-place finish completes what has been a cinderella story for the squad. "I think we surprised everyone when we took home silver," Penn captain and sabre Mindy Nguyen said. "When I found out where we had placed, I can honestly say it was the best fencing moment of my life." The Penn sabres continued their reign of success in the individual event. Nguyen finished fourth, sophomore Christina Verigan placed sixth, and junior Abby Lifter took 12th. The Quakers also advanced at least one fencer in both epee and foil to the second day of competition. In epee, Penn sophomore Kim Linton finished the individual competition in sixth place, while Quakers freshman Liz Kreideman placed 10th. Meanwhile, Penn sophomore Lauren Staudinger took seventh in the foil competition. While much of this young Quakers squad will be returning next year, the team is still sad that its sensational season has come to an end. "Our sweet victory is mixed with sentiments of our supportive seniors who have done so much for us," Nguyen said. "We're so happy we were able to close our season off in a wonderful way."

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