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Credit: Tamara Wurman

Fresh off of winter break, Penn fencing got right down to business in its first meet of the new year at the Penn State Invitational, facing off against four teams in the one-day competition. 

The day began with an early heartbreak for the Red and Blue against Duke, ranked No. 6 on the men’s side and unranked on the women’s side.

The women fell 18-9 to the Blue Devils, with the sabre squad adding five of the nine points on the board through the efforts of freshman Lark Izenson, junior Sara Papp, and sophomore Miranda Gieg. Junior foil Nicole Vaiani won her duel 2-1, while senior captain Katherine Sizov and freshman Vanessa Dib each added a point for the epee squad.

The men were edged 14-13 by Duke, the 2018 ACC champion, which avenged its loss to the Quakers last year. The sabre squad, led by senior Julian Merchant’s 3-0 sweep, and epee squad, which featured strong 2-1 wins from sophomore Sean Wilson and freshman Emon Daroian, narrowly won their events 5-4. The foil squad suffered a 6-3 defeat, giving the Blue Devils a close win.

Next came North Carolina, an opponent that both the men’s and women’s squads had beaten in the Elite Invitational at Ohio State in November. 

The women incrementally improved from their bout in the morning, succumbing 17-10 to the Tar Heels. The epees went down with a combined score of 5-4, while the sabres and foils lost with scores of 6-3 each. 

On the other hand, the men overcame North Carolina 17-10 with a dominant 7-2 performance from the epees. Daroian won with clean sweep, and 2-1 bout wins by freshman James Armstrong and Wilson sealed the victory. The sabres and foils won their events with scores of 5-4 each, with a 3-0 sweep by freshman Jerry Wu providing the majority of the points for the foil squad. 

After the lunch break, the Quakers squared off against host Penn State, a powerhouse in national fencing that held both the Penn squads at bay in November at Ohio State. The women lost for the third time of the day by a score of 17-10, and the men were defeated as well in a tight 14-13 contest. 

To cap off the competition for the day, the Red and Blue faced off against conference foe Columbia, which has the highest ranked Ivy League teams nationally. The women ended the invitational on a high note with a 15-12 win. While the foil and epee squads lost their events 5-4, the sabres carried the Quakers to victory with a 7-2 win. However, the men continued to struggle, as the Lions dominated in all three events en route to a comfortable 20-7 victory. 

With the season in full swing once again, the Quakers will be back in action at home next weekend, when they will look to build momentum as the Ivy League Championships loom on the horizon in early February.