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Freshman foil Jerry Wu is among the group of newcomers trying to help continue Penn fencing's success of the last few years.

Credit: Tamara Wurman

The Penn fencing freshmen have already made their presence felt early in the season. 

With six freshmen on the men’s team and seven on the women’s, many have already had standout performances to start their young careers.

After the men’s team split its four matches at the Nov. 18 tournament at the Elite Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, freshman sabre Xiteng Lin has been a leader for the whole team, not just the freshmen. 

Lin dominated his competition, going an impressive 3-0 against both Ohio State and North Carolina, helping secure wins for the team.

Two weeks earlier at Penn State, Lin had help from fellow freshman epee teammate Emon Daroian, who went 10-0 in the first two pools, followed by a 1-4 loss in the third pool and finished in the top 32. 

“For me it’s been more difficult from high school,” Daroian said of collegiate practice times and training. “It's every day and longer.”

Competing for the freshmen on the women’s team during the Elite Invitational were standout epee fencers Vanessa Dib and Margaux Games. 

Dib held her own in the Elite Invitational tournament securing a 3-0 victory against Penn State, leading the epee group to an individual win. 

At Penn State, Dib and Games qualified for the third pool but did not end up qualifying for the top 16. 

“I think we did alright,” Games said. “We definitely still have a lot to work on, and it’s just the beginning of the season.”

The fresh optimism from the incoming class has them hopeful for the rest of the season.

“I’d be happy making NCAAs … I think that’d be fun,” Daroian said. 

Now, more than in recent years, there are more freshmen on both the men’s and women’s teams, and they are all going to have to perform in order for the program to be successful. 

“I try not to think about it … I want to do my best,” Games said. “It’s more of a team sport now; it’s not really individual.”

These freshmen come from all walks of life, with Lin hailing from China and Dib coming to the United States from Lebanon. 

Games and Daroian both acknowledge that it was family that got them into the sport, but the coaches, team, and competition that made them stick with it.

“The team is super supportive” says Games.

It has been a strong beginning for the 13 freshmen on Penn fencing, and there's a bright future ahead for the group.