It’s not every weekend a team defeats two top-five teams and takes home three medals.
Saturday morning, the No. 8 Penn men’s fencing team defeated No. 1 Penn State and No. 5 St. John’s at the Temple Invitational before hitting the road with the No. 10 women’s fencing team for the third U.S. Collegiate Weapon Squad Championships hosted by Ohio State on Sunday.
The two Saturday matches — a 16-11 win over the Nittany Lions and a 15-12 win over the Red Storm — extended the men’s hot streak to 13 matches and left them with an overall record of 19-1.
The victory against Penn State was particularly welcome, as the Quakers had lost to the Nittany Lions earlier in January., 20-7.
In preparing for the matches, especially the one against Penn State, coach Andy Ma credited both an increase in focus and specific techniques drawn up by the coaches.
“They have the knowledge,” Ma said. “[They] just [had] to put everything together.”
After the men’s morning matches, both teams took the bus to Columbus, where they garnered a gold medal each the next day — the men’s team in sabre and the women’s team in foil. Men’s epee took third, while foil came in fourth. Women’s epee and sabre took fourth and fifth, respectively.
Although Ma thinks both teams did well overall, he was concerned by the long travel time.
“We traveled a little bit late,” he said. “It was an eight-hour ride — we’re pretty exhausted.”
To combat the fatigue, Ma and his assistant coaches used conversation to keep their fencers motivated.
“We talk to them,” Ma said. “Talk to the whole team, sometimes talk to them individually, just to keep their spirits up.”
Next weekend, both teams will travel to Massachusetts for the Ivy League Round-Robins, where they will each face three top-ten teams — Princeton, Harvard and Columbia — in addition to Yale and Brown.
“Our team spirit is good,” Ma said. “We [will] try to keep [our] team spirit together and, hopefully this way they [will be] ready for the Ivy championships. Everything else is good and already there.”
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