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A Penn foil fencer lunges towards her opponent in an attempt to score a touch during the team's competition against Ohio State University on Jan. 23.

Credit: Samantha Turner

Last weekend, men's and women’s fencing competed at the Penn State Invitational for their first competition of 2022. 

The women’s team finished with a record of 3-1 with close victories over North Carolina (14-13) and Duke (15-12) and a dominating victory over Haverford College (23-4). The only loss came against Penn State by a margin of 17-10. 

Both the women epee and foil teams also finished the event with a 3-1 record. The epee team went 7-2 against North Carolina, 6-3 against Duke, and swept Haverford 9-0. The foil team had much closer scores with 5-4 against both North Carolina and Duke, and only dropping one point to Haverford, 8-1. 

The men’s team finished the event with a record of 2-2. The unit opened the event with a victory over North Carolina, which was ranked #12 in the US Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) poll with a score of 15-12. They then fell to Duke (16-11) and to Penn State (17-10) and returned to close out the event with a victory over Haverford (21-6). As opposed to the women, the men’s sabre team was the only unit that had a 3-1 record. They defeated UNC, 6-3, and Haverford, 6-3. Additionally, both the men and women’s sabre teams were the only ones to defeat Penn State in this event, both with a 5-4 score.

“Not really too many people train over break, so we have a tradition to do six days of winter camp right before the spring semester starts,” head coach Andy Ma said. “Half of the team came back to do the training, but some people got COVID[-19], and they came back later because they weren’t cleared yet and some people have injuries. So, we weren’t really a full team going into Penn State.” 

After the Penn State Invitational, the Red and Blue had yet another competition, this time at the Philadelphia Invitational, their first home meet since January 2020. There were seven matches on Saturday for Penn and four on Sunday with over 20 institutions present at the invitational.

Credit: Nicholas Fernandez Junior Emerson Blutt parries his opponent's attack during the competition against Ohio State University on Jan. 23 at the Tse Center.

On Saturday, both the men’s and women’s teams finished the day with a 5-2 record. 

The women’s team opened on Saturday by defeating Johns Hopkins (16-11) and North Carolina (18-9) again. It then fell to Cornell (12-15) and Duke (12-15), a matchup from last week. It closed off the day with three dominating defeats over Wagner (22-5), NYU (17-10), and Sacred Heart (23-4). 

The women swept on three occasions. The epee team went 9-0 against the Tar Heels, with an overall team record on Saturday of 6-1. Then, the foil team swept 9-0 both Wagner and Sacred Heart, and the team had an overall 4-3 record.

The men’s team also opened up by defeating Johns Hopkins (17-10), however, it lost to No. 7 UNC (11-16), which it defeated last week, and fell to Duke (12-15) again. Still, they reigned victorious against the New Jersey Institute of Technology (18-9), Haverford (18-9), NYU (18-9), and Sacred Heart (16-11). 

The men’s sabre team dominated on Saturday with a 6-1 record against each team, falling only to Duke. The epee team also had a 6-1 record, and they only were defeated by the Tar Heels. 

Sunday, the Quakers finished the day not as strong. The women’s and men’s teams both finished the event with a 1-3 record. 

The women’s team was defeated in three out of its four matches, as it faced Ohio State University (12-15), Notre Dame (11-16), and Temple (12-15). Still, it managed to end the night well with a close victory against Northwestern University (14-13). 

The men's team came up with a victory early, then petered out late. The team started the day well with a victory against OSU (15-12), but then lost its remaining matches against Notre Dame (12-15), Columbia (13-14), and Yale (11-16). 

Credit: Samantha Turner

Junior Amber White reaches to embrace her opponent after their bout during the team's competition against Ohio State University on Jan. 23.

The teams they played on the second day were a lot stronger than the first day, including top-ranked Notre Dame, hence the drop in record. 

“Overall, the team did really well no matter how it came out victory-wise,” junior Grace Hao said. “I think we had a great team dynamic and everyone brought great energy to the field.” 

In preparation for Ivy League competition, one thing that the Quakers plan on emphasizing is having a full roster, which neither the men’s or women’s teams had during these past two weeks due to travel or injuries. 

“We also have some people on the team who are super good and traveling around doing international competitions at the moment, or other national competitions,” Hao said. “...they are gonna be back for the Ivies, which is a really big meet that we are super excited for. 

The team hopes to build off its momentum from these past two weeks in preparation for the big competition. The Quakers have three weeks before they face off on Saturday, Feb. 12 in one of their most exciting competitions at the Ivy League Championships.