The last three seasons, Penn men’s fencing has held at least a share of the Ivy League title. This year was an entirely different story.
At this year’s Ivy League Championships at Yale, men’s fencing finished in fifth with a 1-4 record, only ahead of Brown. The women finished 3-3, tied for third. The men's team won its only match against Brown by a score of 22-5. The women’s three victories came against Cornell, Brown, and Harvard. Although the team results were somewhat disappointing, there were some impressive individual results.
On the men’s side, freshman Emon Daroian finished with 11 victories and only four defeats, earning first team All-Ivy honors. For the women, freshman Vanessa Dib and sophomore Miranda Gieg each finished in the top six, earning second team All-Ivy honors.
“Finishing top three [and] getting first team All-Ivy felt great. I’m looking forward to being a leader on this team for the next three years,” Daroian said.
The men’s team was expecting more. Last year, the Red and Blue were the only team able to beat Harvard all season, earning them a share of the Ivy title. This year, they fell to the Crimson by a score of 20-7.
The Quakers came away from the championships disappointed, as they entered the weekend with expectations of a title and finished with only one win. Unlike the last three seasons, Penn was without star epee Justin Yoo, who left the team in January to train for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. His loss was damaging for the Red and Blue, who won only one of its five epee matches this weekend.
The women had a more successful weekend, but they were also unable to reach the heights they desired. Last year, the Red and Blue finished 3-3, fourth in the Ivy League. This year, they finished 3-3, tied for third in the conference. Despite the team’s results, Dib felt encouraged and believes that the Quakers can improve going forward.
“I think that if you see our rankings on paper, it might not justify the amount of work we put in," Dib said. "The team did amazing. Everyone put in 110 percent. I think that moving forward, I’m positive we’ll do much better next season."
While the standings might not have been entirely in the Quakers’ favor, they showed some improvements in their results. Last year, Harvard easily defeated the women by a score of 18-9. This year was a different story, as the Red and Blue beat the Crimson, 15-12, with an impressive performance coming from Dib. In contrast to the lofty expectations set by the men, Dib was surprised by her individual results.
“Against Harvard, I honestly didn’t expect to win any of [my matches]. They’re really good fencers, not just collegiately but in North America,” Dib said. “After every few bouts, the team would huddle together and encourage each other. I think the members cheering for each other point by point was kind of the turning point in my Harvard matches.”
The team results left something to be desired. However, the fencers had some promising individual results and will look to build on their success in their next meets. The Red and Blue's next chance to do so comes on Feb. 24 in Philadelphia at the Temple Invitational, which will be their final meet of the season before the NCAA Championships.