For anyone who kept up with Penn fencing last season, the year was nothing short of remarkable. Penn sent six male and two female fencers to the NCAA Championships, and coach Andy Ma won the Ivy League Men’s Coach of the Year.
“That’s an honor,” Ma said. “Because of the of the dedication and hard work. It’s every coaches dream.”
Winning Ivy League Men’s Coach of the Year is especially impressive considering he built off the 2014-2015 season where he led both the men’s and the women’s to 20 dual meet wins for the first time in school history.
In addition to Ma’s individual honor, four of his fencers — three men and one woman — earned All-American honors.
The men’s team had a particularly strong year, sending six fencers to the NCAA Championships.
The team was highlighted by the individual success of Justin Yoo. Only a freshman, Yoo earned an automatic bid in epee.
Joining Yoo at epee was sophomore Zsombor Garzo. Rounding out the automatic bids were sophomore John Vaiani and freshman Raymond Chen in foil, as well as senior captain Shaul Gordon in saber. The one at large bid was earned by rookie Raphael Van Hoffelen.
Many of these fencers were building on success from last year. Gordon went to the NCAA Championships for the fourth straight time, while Vaiani and Garzo secured their second straight bids. At the championships, Yoo and Garzo put together an All-American performance in epee, while Gordon earned second team All-American honors in sabre. The success of the men’s team was further rewarded with Gordon, Vaiani, Yoo, and Garzo obtaining first team All-Ivy and freshman Julian Merchant earning second team All-Ivy honors.
Throughout the season, the team was very dominant. They finished in a three-way tie atop the Ivy League standings with a record of 4-1. Overall, they only dropped two matches on the year and finished with a record of 14-2.
The season continued its everlasting high note when the CollegeFencing360 Coaches’ Poll came out on March 11. The poll had the Quakers listed as the number one team in the country.
This was one of the most successful seasons in recent memory, and only more is expected of the team this time around.
The women also had a very respectable season, sending two fencers to the NCAA championships and garnering one All-American. The women’s team finished fourth in the Ivy League with a record of 3-3. Overall they finished above .500 with a record of 10-7.
Despite not reaching the same overall success as a team, many individual fencers saw great success. Junior Alejandra Trumble was the Ivy League epee champion and recipient of first team All-Ivy. Joining her in All-Ivy recognition was fellow junior Dana Kong in sabre.
Contrary to popular belief, those were not the two women representing Penn at the NCAA championships. Sophomore Arabella Uhry in sabre and freshman Simone Unwalla in foil carried the torch for the Quakers. Uhry was the only one of the two to gain All-American honors. She was the first to do so on the women’s side since 2012.
The fencing program looks to capitalize on momentum from last season as they push towards new heights during the 2016-2017 season.