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A Penn fencer twists away from her opponent's attack during a meet against Ohio State University on Jan. 23 at the Tse Center.

Credit: Samantha Turner

Following mixed performances in the Penn State Invitational and the Philadelphia Invitational, Penn’s men and women’s fencing teams had to chase success in the Ivy League Round-Robin Championships through the weekend, but fell under expectations.

It had been three weeks since the teams last competed, but with contending COVID-19 cases and injuries the week before Ivies that caused a shut down for five days, training was also impacted. Still, unlike in the past two competitions, where many players that were absent due to conflicts for other tournaments, all starters were able to fence this weekend.

The Quakers are currently ranked No. 11 and No. 8 by the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) for men and women, respectively.

Columbia is coming in as a predictable favorite, with its second-ranked men’s team having won six of the last seven Ivy League titles (three of which were shared titles with Penn and Harvard) and the women’s third-ranked team having won five of the last six Ivy League titles.

With the 2021 championship canceled, the last time the teams played a championship was in 2020, when the women’s team tied with Princeton for second place and the men’s team tied for fourth with Yale and Brown. The men’s team has not cracked the top three since 2018, and it appeared unlikely that the women’s team would repeat its performance from 2020, which didn't end up happening. 

The women tied for fourth with Yale, and the men did better than in 2020, finishing in third. The Quakers also had eight fencers earn All-Ivy honors. 

On Saturday, the men's and women’s teams finished the day off 1-1 and 2-1, respectively. 

The women started the day off falling to No. 1 Princeton, 21-6, with every weapon losing their matches. Then, the Red and Blue redeemed themselves and defeated the No. 3 Columbia Lions, 16-11, with a win by both the epee and sabre teams, 5-4 and 7-2, respectively. To end the day, they defeated Brown, 22-5, all three weapons winning.

Contrary to the women, the men’s team beat No. 7 Princeton in a close 14-13 win but fell to No. 4 Harvard, 19-8. In the battle against Princeton, with the sabre team falling 6-3 and the epee team picking up 6-3, it was all up to the foil team. They were tied at 4-4, and sophomore foil Bryce Louie picked up the last point for 5-4 and the win for the Quakers.

To finish off the championships on Sunday, the women’s team faced No. 5 Harvard, No. 4 Cornell, and No. 10 Yale, while the men competed against No. 11 Yale and No. 2 Columbia. The women went 1-2 on Sunday, and the men again split 1-1. 

All close matches on Sunday for the women, they fell to both Harvard and Yale 15-12 and were able to defeat Cornell by the same margin. 

“While we were competing, we kept fairly high spirits high energy, even though we were off to like a little bit of a slow start in the first round with Princeton,” junior epee Chloe Daniel said. “Against all the other schools we really like gave it our all, really left everything on the strip and kind of put everything we had into it."

The men’s team started the day off by defeating Yale 16-11. They fell to No. 2 Columbia, however, which was expected, and all weapon teams fell except for the epeeists. 

While the Red and Blue didn’t get what they hoped for in this match, the team still made individual honors with All-Ivy recognitions. The three first team All-Ivy honorees are senior epee Eliot Herbst (9-3), Daniel (14-4), earning her second first Team All-Ivy, and junior sabre Amber White (14-4). 

Five other Quakers earned second team All-Ivy honors. These fencers include senior epee Emon Daroian, sophomore foil Blake Broszus, Louie, freshman foil Eric Yu, and junior epee Jessica Liang.  

“We had a five-day pause because of [COVID-19] right before the Ivies. The week before, actually, we had quite [a] few kids get [COVID-19] and some injuries,” coach Andy Ma said. “So we had very good team spirits, we fight very hard. So overall we did pretty good.”

The Red and Blue will be back in action in two weeks at the Temple Invitational, just in time to prepare for the chance to qualify to NCAA Championships at the NCAA Regionals. Additionally, some other players are competing individually. Yu and Louie will be representing Team USA at the World Cup, and Louie also has a chance to make the junior team for the Junior Olympics.