The men’s and women’s fencing teams competed in the Temple Invitational this weekend, facing Johns Hopkins, St. John’s, Temple, and Princeton.
The women (29-11, 5-4 Ivy) had a very strong performance, going 4-0 in the invitational. The Quakers defeated Johns Hopkins 19-8, St. Johns 17-10, Temple 15-12 and Princeton 14-13.
“The women came out really strong. Team camaraderie and team spirit is really high,” assistant coach and Director of Fencing Operations Randall Lemaster said.
Senior sabre Arabella Uhry and junior foil Simone Unwalla went 3-0 against Johns Hopkins. Against St. John’s, foil took charge with a 9-0 victory led by sophomore Nicole Vaiani and freshman Nicole Wong.
“Even with one of our starters out, especially women’s foil, the bench stepped up and really did a fantastic job fighting for every touch,” Lemaster added.
Senior epee Stephanie Wolf went 3-0 against Temple. After losing to Princeton earlier in the season, Unwalla finished strong, with a 10-2 record on the day, to lead the Quakers past the Tigers.
“Women’s epee really got on a role, and pulled some key wins. So, overall we can’t win unless we act as a team. And team spirit and camaraderie was very deep and strong today,” Lemaster said.
The men (28-11, 5-2) went 2-2 on the day, battling injuries and losing in very close competitions.
“We have a couple injuries right now with some of our key personnel. We also had another two men out sick. We were probably missing three of our normal starters for this event,” Lemaster said.
Despite the injuries, freshman sabre Andrew Sun had an outstanding day, going 11-1. Freshman foil Michael Li went 6-2, earning him the only winning record by a member of foil. For epee, senior Zsombor Garzo and freshman Nikola Damjanovic went 5-3 and 4-1 respectively.
The men’s match against Princeton literally came down to the final touch, as the Quakers just barely fell to their Ivy League rival just after beating the Tigers for a share of the Ivy League title.
The Quakers have a break now until Spring Camp on March 7, which is designed to prepare the teams for the NCAA Regional Championships on March 10.
“Spring Camp is basically to maintain the conditioning we have established throughout the year. The kids are going to have 4-5 days off because of spring break. The main thing is to get them back, get them stretched out, get their timing back,” Lemaster said.
Penn’s spring break usually occurs right before NCAA Regional Championships, making Spring Camp especially important each year.
“We have to have a camp during spring break to get the kids back into that groove so that they can compete for an NCAA birth,” Lemaster added.
Conditioning is key for the structure of the NCAA Regional Championships.
“The NCAA Regionals is a really grueling event because you have to fence two or three pools to make the finals, and the finals is a pool of twelve,” Lemaster said.
The teams are optimistic heading into the future.
“Even though the men’s result was 2-2, there was a lot of fighting spirit. They went for every touch," Lemaster said.
"They are ready to step up and represent Penn. The next one is going to be on the NCAA stage."