Fencers take three wins at Penn State Invitational

Coach Nikki Franke is now 12 wins away from 800 for her career after Temple’s wins against Yale University, Haverford College and the University of North Carolina at the Penn State Invitational on Sunday.

Junior sabre Jessica Rockford (left) and sophomore sabre Kerry Plunkett practice at the Student Pavilion on Oct. 10. | MIKE NGUYEN / FILE PHOTO

Temple fencing posted a 3-2 record at the Penn State Invitational on Sunday. After two dual meets, Temple is 7-3 and coach Nikki Franke is 12 wins away from 800 for her career.

The Owls’ defeated Yale University, 15-12, Haverford College, 24-3, and the University of North Carolina, 17-10.

They lost to Penn State, 16-11, and fell to Columbia University by a narrow score of 14-13. Both of those teams were ranked in the top five of the CollegeFencing360.com Women’s Coaches Poll at the end of last season.

“I wanted to see the girls fight throughout the day,” Franke said. “I wanted the girls to show some confidence and consistency against some of the top level programs in college, and I think that happened.”

The foil squad went a perfect 5-0 on the day. It beat Columbia, Haverford and North Carolina each by 7-2. The foil fencers bested Penn State and Yale by scores of 5-4. Sophomore Kennedy Lovelace led the foil squad going 11-1 on the day.

Junior Auset Muhammad and freshman Kari Weiner added to the strong performance by each going 8-3.

“Kennedy showed great focus,” Franke said, “She was moving very well in her bouts, and that helped her have a great day and her performance will really help her moving forward.”

“I am really impressed with how the foil squad performed,” Franke added. “They did a good job of competing throughout the day. They communicated between each other well and did a great job of making adjustments together against each team.”

In the Owls’ two losses, the epee squad lost by a combined score of 15-3. Sophomore Camille Simmons finished with the best record for the epee squad at 8-5.

“I think their up-and-down performance was due to a combination of Columbia and Penn State having good squads, and we failed to show a level of consistency,” Franke said. “The epee squad went through a lot of hard-fought bouts, and we found ourselves on the wrong end of them. We didn’t step up when we needed to.”

The sabres went 4-1 on the day. Junior Blessing Olaode went 5-2, while freshman Eva Hinds and sophomore Kerry Plunkett both went 2-1 against a strong sabre squad from Penn State, Franke said.

Plunkett also went 3-0 against Columbia to contribute to her 7-3 record.

“Kerry had a great day for us,” Franke said. “She fenced really strong against Penn State along with the rest of the sabres. They fenced well and showed me that they had confidence, and I think their overall performance will help them carry that confidence forward.”

Building confidence is the key to a successful season, Franke said. After facing ranked programs, Franke thinks her fencers can find their confidence for the rest of the season.

Temple’s next meet is Saturday and Sunday’s Philadelphia Invitational, hosted by Penn. The Owls will face nine teams, including St. John’s University and Yale teams that ended last season nationally ranked.

“Our job is to improve week by week,” Franke said. “We have a nice challenge ahead of us next week, and we will use this performance to build from so we can be successful.”

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