After a long season of dual meets, the Penn women's fencing team will change things up a bit this weekend at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships. The competition, which includes many teams the Quakers have already faced this season, has an individual component in addition to a team component. Each team submits a list of three fencers per weapon, all ranked 1-3 in that weapon. On the first day of competition, each fencer fences all 14 of the other members of her pool. At the end of the day, the results are tallied to come up with a final team score. While there is great incentive to do well for your team, fencers also have individual placings to think about. Those who do well the first day advance to two round-robin pools of six to compete for an individual title the next day. For each weapon, six of the final 12 fencers are selected from Group A, four from Group B and two from Group C. In last year's competition, the Quakers placed fifth out of 14 teams, just two victories behind Ivy League rival Columbia. But this year's team has shown remarkable growth since last year, and will go into the competition with upset victories over the Lions and three-time Ivy League champion Princeton -- last year's winner at IFAs -- under its belt. "Last year, we were dealing with a very different team than this year," Penn captain Mindy Nguyen said. "Everything was new. It was a learning experience. This year, the mentality is different. We're going there to win, to bring home something." The Quakers feature an impressive amount of talent this year, as there are strong fencers representing each weapon. The Penn sabre squad hopes to ride its wave of recent success to a top three finish this weekend. Of the teams at this year's competition, only St. Johns and Yale have defeated the sabres this season. Thus, a top-three finish looks to be very feasible. The Penn epee squad also poses a formidable line-up in senior Kari Coley, sophomore Kim Linton, and Liz Kreidman, who has had an impressive freshman campaign. Coley took first place in her last trip to the IFAs two years ago. And in foil, Penn sophomore Lauren Staudinger is looking to improve on her fourth-place finish last year. "I was so mad because only the top three got an award," Staudinger said of last year's finish. "But this year will be harder because the competition should be tougher." While the Quakers have great aspirations to do well this weekend, they do not discount the importance of enjoying the moment. "IFAs are the most fun competition," Coley said. "It's for medals and trophies as opposed to a record, so you can relax more, and once you relax, you have more fun." Although each of the Quakers will be fencing on a different strip, the spirit of support that has defined the team all season will be as strong as ever. "There's a monitor so you can keep track of how everyone is doing," Coley said. "We all run around to each other's strips when we're not fencing and cheer each other on." While he is proud of what his team has accomplished thus far this season, Penn fencing coach Dave Micahnik is not about to make any rash predictions about how his team will place at IFAs. "It's one of those competitions where you never know," Micahnik said. "I don't think we have enough guns to win [but] they've been surprising me all season... so nothing they do at this point would shock me."Comments powered by Disqus
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