Fencing finishes season at No. 9

The Owls finished with 39 victories in the NCAA Championships.

Fencing had its own version of March Madness this week in Columbus, Ohio, and Temple was represented well as the fencing team finished ninth in a field that featured 30 of the best fencing teams in the country.

“It was a tough, tough field,” coach Nikki Franke said. “The competition is getting better every year, but we finished ninth among the women’s teams. I think we did the best out of anybody with only four qualifiers.”

Led by Second Team All-American junior Alyssa Lomuscio and their Hall of Fame coach, the Owls came out with 39 victories in the NCAA Championships held at Ohio State. The Cherry and White were represented by a foursome that included Lomuscio, sophomore Mikayla Varadi, junior Kamali Thompson and freshman Chantal Montrose.

Lomuscio and Varadi both participated in the foil events for the Owls.

Lomuscio was making her second trip to the championships after placing 19th in 2009 as a freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson. She did much better this time around, scoring 87 touches, receiving 70 and earning 15 crucial victories for the team. That performance placed her in seventh, and she only missed the final four by two victories.

“It was a great weekend for her,” Franke said. “She was very consistent, earned a final eight award for the first time and made Second Team All-American. We’re very proud of her.”

Varadi added seven victories of her own despite having very little preparation time. Freshman Epiphany Georges was originally slated to be the second foilist, but a last-second injury forced her alternate, Varadi, into service. Varadi finished 21st among the women’s foilists – a slight step backward from her 18th place finish last year.

“It was her second time around, and she fought some good bouts,” Franke said. “She had already qualified, but we were only allowed to bring four, so she was an alternate, but she did a great job for having so little time to adjust.”

In her third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships, Thompson contributed 10 victories from the sabre events. She scored 79 touches, while receiving 87, which was good enough for 15th place, but Thompson struggled with her consistency throughout the event.

“I think she was disappointed a little bit,” Franke said. “She wasn’t able to be consistent over both days, and she could’ve won some more bouts. It was still a good performance.”

Montrose scored 75 touches and earned seven victories for the Owls in the epee competition. She finished 20th, but Franke reassured that it was a very pleasing performance because it was her first taste of the national championships.

Notre Dame won the championship, managing to stay just ahead of Penn State throughout the weekend. St. John’s, Princeton and Ohio State rounded out the Top 5.

It was another impressive season for fencing team as the team managed to stay in the Top 10 nationally throughout the entirety of the season and finished with a 22-7 record. Franke, who owns a career record of 623-165-1 and a spot in the Hall of Fame, said she’ll be back next year for her 39th season at Temple.

Despite losing five seniors from this year’s No. 9 team, she said she thinks the team will be just fine.

“The team persevered and handled the season very well,” Franke said. “We saw improvement in each of the girls, and we’re pleased with the whole team. We’re excited to come back next year, and we look forward to it.”

Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at brandon.stoneburg@temple.edu.

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