Coming off of another perfect team meet, the Temple fencing team took a much-needed break this past weekend. But there would be no rest for three fencers.
Sophomores Jenn Remmert, Maryanne Forsythe and freshman Rachel Eschenbach traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, for the U.S. Fencing Association’s Junior Olympics.
Three of the Owls took that focus to Cleveland this past weekend for the USFA’s Junior Olympics.
The event was for fencers under the age of 20 who qualified in local competition. It also gave fencers an opportunity to earn National Ranking Points.
Coach Nikki Franke made the trip as well. Franke, like many other college coaches, uses young individual meets like this as a scouting opportunity for future college fencers.
She was also there for moral support, if any of the fencers needed it.
“While we’re fencing she can pick out things that you don’t see as much,” Remmert said.
There were 170 foilists who qualified for the event. Remmert and Forsythe placed 28th and 52d, respectively.
In her first national competition, Eschenbach was eliminated in the first round of the epee division.
In previous competition the Owls traveled to Durham, N.C., Feb. 7, to take on Duke, North Carolina, Brandeis, Johns Hopkins and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). They made quick work of all except for Brandeis and MIT, where they found themselves down early.
The Owls trailed MIT, 13-8, after both sabre and epee matches. It took six consecutive wins from the foil squad to pull off the victory.
“It was really intense,” senior captain Sara Forsythe said. “We were all up, we were cheering, we were loud. The energy of the team was incredible. It was such a great feeling. It kind of came down to a point where whether we won or not was irrelevant, because the team was there and we were all working for it.”
The win put Temple at 19-3 on the season.
“We just kept winning and built the momentum up and when we finally won, we were ecstatic,” Remmert said. “We exploded. We were all. . .really excited that we pulled through.”
The emotional support displayed by the team has fueled Temple’s success. Having a team presence on the strip is intimidating, and as important, as the individual fencer.
“They never lost the support for each other,” Franke said. “They never got down on themselves. They just had such a good focus.”
Temple still has one team meet remaining before the postseason. Franke wants the team to stay focused on the task at hand. With such a young team, she has turned to Forsythe, a senior, to help ease the younger fencers down the stretch.
Forsythe has helped the team maintain focus all season. She has gone 48-10 in team competition and Franke is impressed with her leadership.
“She’s the kind of person that we want to brag about,” Franke said. “She’s someone the team respects, not just [for] her results but [for] her work effort.”
In addition, injuries have ended the season for junior Amanda Gerwer and freshman Lauren Riesebeck, leaving a sparse dozen to finish the season.
“It’s hard for them and it’s hard for the team,” Forsythe said. “It’s been tough, but we’re trying to make them feel involved.”
With their bench limited, everyone will have to step up if the Owls hope to make an impressive NCAA appearance. But there’s still plenty left to do before the Championships.
“I don’t look toward Championships until I have to,” Remmert said. “I’ll focus now on our Cornell meet because that’s really important to the team, and then NIWFA’s after that because that’s really important to the team as well. After NIWFA’s I’ll focus a little more on doing my best at Regionals and, if I’m lucky enough to qualify again, then I’ll look forward to [the NCAA’s]. But I’ve got to work my butt off to get up there again.”
Steve Papurt can be reached at email@example.com.