Senior saber fencer becomes first All-American since 2003.
Through the first three years of Kamali Thompson’s fencing career she was never able crack the Top 10 at the NCAA tournament.
That all changed on March 22 to 23 at Ohio State University when Thompson finished sixth out of 24 fencers in the saber competition, leading the Owls to a 10th place overall finish. It was her fourth appearance at the national competition but her first All-American honor as she was named to the second team.
Along with Thompson, senior Alyssa Lomuscio and junior Mikayla Varadi competed at nationals, claiming 16th and 21st in the foil competition, respectively. Junior epee Jill Bratton made her first appearance at the national level after taking a year off from fencing and finished 16th in her event.
“I did really well, going in I had beat most of the best people there,” Thompson said. “It was nice to be able to beat most of them again especially in such a high pressure competition.”
Thompson may have had one of her best victories of her fencing career when she recorded a 5-4 victory over Duke’s senior Becca Ward in the preliminary round. Ward was the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and a three-time national champion, who was the eventual 2012 champion in the event competition.
The NCAA championships was Thompson’s last collegiate tournament, but throughout her career she’s earned quite a reputation as one of the program’s top fencers. She became the first All-American at saber for Temple since 2003.
While fencing is an individual sport Thompson is quick to credit many of her coaches and teammates for the success she has had at Temple.
“When I came to Temple I was working with people that had so much more experience than I did, so it forced me to work harder,” Thompson said. “I’m a much better fencer than I was when I first arrived here, and I tried to use that experience to help the younger fencers this year.”
The fencing team graduates four seniors this year, but Thompson is confident in the younger fencers as well as coach Nikki Franke to have another successful season next year without her.
“I think they’ll do well, they have lots of experience coming back and coach [Franke] always does a great job recruiting,” Thompson said. “I think we’ll still be able to send as many people as we can to NCAA’s, and hopefully a Top 5 finish in the country.”
Thompson’s success is not only in the athletic department but also in the classroom. Last year she was named the “PNC-Temple Female Student-Athlete of the Year.” This is the highest award given out be the athletic department and factors in not only athletics, but academic achievement as well. Thompson will also be continuing her studies after she graduates with a biology degree, as she will be attending Robert Wood Johnson medical school in New Brunswick in the fall.
While Thompson’s collegiate fencing career may have come to an end, she said wants to continue playing the sport. Along with attending medical school, Thompson plans to fence with her club team from New York.
Anthony Bellino can be reached at email@example.com.