The fencing team competed in the 34th Annual Temple Open on Saturday, where junior Tiki Kastor won the sabre title for the second year in a row.
Nearly 80 competitors challenged Kastor for her title, including senior teammate Andrea Haley. Kastor defeated Haley to advance to the gold medal round where she emerged victorious.
“I think the rest of my team did great,” Kastor said. “I’m really proud of my teammate Andrea because she was definitely my toughest bout of the day and she did really well and I’m really proud of her and everybody else because I think we all did a really good job.”
The Open is the largest of its kind in the nation, with representation from more than 30 colleges and universities.
“It’s a really big deal,” coach Nikki Franke said. “We have teams from all over the East Coast come in, so it’s really exciting.”
Temple had 15 finishers in the Top 20 among the three weapons. In the three areas of competition, the Owls had eight student-athletes in the Top 10 – four in sabre, two in épée and two in foil. Temple had six finalists. Haley tied for third in sabre, while senior Chantal Montrose also tied for third in the épée division.
“I was really proud overall,” Haley said. “I think we all had a very good finish … especially our sabre squad. I was very proud of what we did. We all fenced very well. If we were eliminated, we all fenced our best.”
The Temple Open is a competition that allows coaches to get an early look at their athletes, especially the freshmen. It also allows fencers to get experience before their first meet.
“It’s a good starting place to see where people are at, fencing-wise, physiologically, and it really prepares,” Montrose said.
The freshmen held their own throughout the competition. Miranda Litzinger finished 11th in foil, while Rachael Clark, Noelle Baptiste and Alexandra Keft finished 6th, 12th and 19th in épée, respectively. Victoria Suber finished 14th in sabre.
“We are excited to see how they will grow,” Franke said. “They are all going to contribute to the program, and we are just really excited to see how they are going to progress as the year goes on.”
The Owls’ five returning seniors, including Montrose and Haley, all placed within the Top 18 within their divisions. Epiphany Georges finished seventh in foil, while Kimberly Howell finished 18th in épée and Tasia Ford finished 10th in sabre.
“We help each other out and tell each other what we did wrong,” Haley said. “We support each other, so I think going through four years together, having good results with some of my classmates is amazing and has really created a bond.”
“It is always great to have people that have been on the team for a while,” Montrose said. “We’ve been through everything before several times. We know what to expect, we can really help out the freshmen and the sophomores and really lend our wisdom towards them.”
The sabre squad, who had six finishers in the Top 14, preformed the best. The epee squad placed five competitors in the Top 20, and the foil squad placed four competitors in the Top 12.
“Our sabre squad is the deepest, in terms of strength,” Franke said. “And our épée squad is very young. Half of the epee squad are freshmen. And our foil squad is the middle. So they are all very strong and should do well.”
Success is nothing new to the Owls, who are coming off a 22-8 record from last season. They also ranked No. 9 in the final national poll. Temple will look to build off its success from last year where it captured the National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association Olympians Trophy for the 17th consecutive year. Some of the athletes said there is pressure to continue that success.
“I think that it makes us work harder, and we know that we have a tradition to uphold and that we really want to make the team proud and continue that success,” Haley said.
“There is a pressure, but I think every year we really rise to the occasion and we really are able to maintain that, which is awesome and really impressive for a team,” Montrose said.
The team’s next tournament is in Cleveland, Ohio. In the meantime, the squad will go back to the drawing board to work on their weaknesses and prepare for the upcoming season.
“Our expectation is constant improvement,” Franke said. “That no one sits back. Everyone is always working on how to improve, how to get better. We have team goals, and we want to make sure we are nationally ranked and we qualify everyone to the regionals, and so everyone is very motivated.”
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MikeG2511.