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Participating in the 40th Penn State Garret Open this weekend, Penn fencing saw saw nine fencers advance to the round of 16 in the competition — four women and five men.

This tournament along with the Temple Invitational, is one of the two most prestigious and important preseason tournaments for NCAA fencing. Historically, reaching the round of 16 at the Penn State Open, where direct elimination begins, has been a strong predictor of qualification for the NCAA Championships at the end of the season.

This is an encouraging early season sign, but the team hopes to improve on this showing throughout the season in order to qualify the maximum of 12 fencers (six men and six women, two per weapon) for NCAAs in March.

The women fenced first on Saturday. In foil, Penn saw Wendy Zhao finish 11th, and Laura Paragano took 16th. The Penn women had one top-16 finisher in both sabre and épée. Dominika Franciszkowicz was 14th in sabre and All-American Amrit Bhinder took fifth in épée.

On Sunday, the men’s team had five fencers, including two freshmen, reach the knockout round. In foil, Zane Grodman took 14th and freshman Jason Chang finished seventh in his first collegiate action. The Quakers also qualified two épéeists in freshman Renee Gannon-O’Gara (13th) and Steven Jow (16th). All-American Evan Prochniak was Penn’s only sabreist to reach the round of 16. but he finished second and was the Quakers’ best finisher of the weekend.

Both men and women now move back into training mode for two months until the start of their regular dual season at the Philadelphia Invitational on January 21-22.

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