After taking a year off, junior Jill Bratton looks to qualify for nationals.
Junior epee competitor Jill Bratton took a year off from school and fencing last year for financial reasons and to do some soul searching, she said.
“I had the entire year off to focus on what was important to me, and find out what I wanted to do,” Bratton said.
This past year Bratton worked two jobs, one at a day care in Philadelphia and the other as a hostess in New York. During her year off, the New York native didn’t train at all, except for the occasional run. Besides contact with coach Nikki Franke, fencing was nowhere in Bratton’s schedule.
But Bratton never doubted that she would return to Temple, and the team gladly accepted her return.
“The first day I came back it was like I hadn’t even left,” Bratton said.
The experience Bratton brings to the young epee squad has helped develop the talent into a competitive squad. Sophomore epee squad leader Chantal Montrose said earlier in the season that Bratton’s return brings experience and stability to the epee squad.
“[Bratton] has a lot more experience than the rest of the [epee fencers],” Montrose said. “So it’s going to be really nice to have that experience back again. So that will be really helpful and it’s another person to fence.”
The transition back to Temple athletically was an easy one for Bratton, as she saw success early in the season.
“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I was in shape, but apparently I was, because I did fine,” Bratton said.
With a decisive win against Northwestern at the Philadelphia Invitational, Bratton transformed the Owls’ epee squad. She went on to post a 9–2 record at the following multi-meet at Northwestern University, beating competition from Northwestern, Ohio State and the reigning national champion, Notre Dame.
“For the past two years, these teams have beaten me awfully, and I just wanted to be back and wanted to do well,” Bratton said.
When she last competed, Bratton placed seventh in epee at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional, but that finish isn’t good enough for the epee veteran.
Going into the season, Bratton set a goal to reach the fencing championships and compete at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships, and she is taking it one bout at a time.
“Hopefully I’ll get there, but I don’t like to keep track of how many bouts I’ve won, but I know I haven’t been losing to talented schools as much as I used to,” Bratton said.
This past weekend Bratton was at it again, helping the Owls secure a 3–1 record at the Duke Invitational. Bratton went 3–6 for the weekend.
Bratton’s sacrifices have brought her continuing success this year. After clearing her head, Bratton looks to help lead the Owls to a national championship this year.
Colin Tansits can be reached at email@example.com.