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Freshman Justin Yoo notched an NCAA spot in the epee, one of seven automatic bids won by the Quakers at regionals.

Credit: Arabella Uhry , Arabella Uhry

The Quakers are entering the home stretch in the driver's seat.

The 2015-16 season has been a rather successful one for Penn fencing. Not only did the team win numerous accolades throughout the season, but it also secured seven NCAA bids and set up a pair of potential at-large bids this past weekend.

On Friday, in the most recently released CollegeFencing360 Coaches’ Poll rankings, the men’s squad was ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time ever, alongside Columbia. Moving up from No. 3, the Quakers were able to climv atop the rankings due to their recent success at the Ivy League Championships last month. With the exception of No. 10 Stanford, the team defeated all the other top ten teams this season and closed out their season with an historic 28 wins.

The women’s squad closed a relatively successful season as well with 19 wins and victories over top 10 teams, standing at No. 9.

Coach Andy Ma was also named the Ivy League Coach of the Year. His title came in recognition of the Red and Blue’s success at the Ivy Championships this season.

The women’s squad placed fourth overall, after a three-way tie for the title between Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton. Junior Alejandra Trumble was crowned the 2016 Ivy League Epee Champion after notching a tournament record of 14-3.

The men’s squad won the Ivy title for the 17th time, and the first since 2009. This season marked the 50 year anniversary of Penn’s first Ivy win in fencing in 1966.

Following the Ancient Eight conference championship, the Quakers were able to carry that momentum through the Temple and Philadelphia Invitationals the following weekends in preparation for the NCAAs.

Both teams also found success at the United States Collegiate Squad Championships as the men’s team won the championship title for the third year in a row, and the women’s squad secured a second-place finish.

Looking to maintain their success, the Red and Blue went all out this past weekend in Bethlehem, Pa. at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals.

On the women’s team, both freshman Simone Unwalla and sophomore Arabella Uhry secured their first-ever NCAA bids. Unwalla finished in sixth place in foil, while Uhry fought for a fourth-place finish in sabre.

Trumble’s talents and performance at the tournament and throughout the season make her an ideal candidate for an at-large bid for the NCAA Championships. Freshman Raphael Van Hoffelen may also qualify for an at-large bid in sabre; however, those bids will not be confirmed until Tuesday.

On the men’s team, freshman prodigies Justin Yoo and Raymond Chen earned their first NCAA bids in epee and foil, respectively. Yoo was also named Epee Regional Champion, and sophomore Zsombor Garzo followed closely, placing sixth in the same weapon. Garzo, along with sophomore John Vaiani in foil, secured their second consecutive NCAA bids. Penn’s final NCAA bid was notched by team captain, senior Shaul Gordon.

With more than half of the team being relatively seasoned, the Quakers have no qualms about entering NCAAs with their rookie competitors. Since November, the freshman class has met and exceeded team expectations.

Additionally, Uhry’s qualification in sabre marks the improvement in saber that the team was vying for all season.

With an historic season behind them and numerous titles under their belt, the Quakers are more than determined to break their eighth place curse — having placed eighth at the NCAA Championships for the past two years.

That challenge may prove difficult, but it is now very achievable.

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