Fencing team prepares for duals season at January NAC

Senior epee Safa Ibrahim and sophomore sabre Malia Hee placed in the top 16 of their competitions at the January North American Cup in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Junior epee Fiona Fong (left) and senior epee Safa Ibrahim practice on Oct. 10 at the Student Pavilion. | MIKE NGUYEN / FILE PHOTO

This past weekend, 14 Temple fencers competed individually at the January North American Cup in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

All of the Temple fencers competed in Division I brackets, and some of the underclassmen competed in a junior portion of the competition.

Senior Safa Ibrahim placed 14th in the Division I epee competition, which had 179 competitors, and sophomore sabre Malia Hee tied for 11th out of 136 fencers in the sabre.

“Both Malia and Safa fenced incredibly well,” coach Nikki Franke said. “They both showed improvement as the days went on. To place top 16 in this tournament is a real good accomplishment. Their performances, I think, helped them gain some confidence moving forward.”

Ibrahim made it to the table of 16 in the direct elimination bracket on Sunday before she lost to Francesca Bassa from Alliance Fencing Academy in Houston. Bassa tied for a bronze medal.

Hee faced former Owl Kamali Thompson, who fenced from 2008-12 and narrowly missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, in the table of 16 on Saturday. Thompson beat Hee, 15-13, and won silver in the event.

Franke said her fencers need to “shake off the rust” after a long break between meets. Before the January NAC, Temple hadn’t fenced since the December NAC from Dec. 8-11.

“We were a little slow to begin the weekend,” Franke said. “But as the weekend progressed, the quality of fencing improved. The girls started to gain a rhythm as each day went by. We got to fence some of the best competition in the nation, so I was pleased overall with how they did.”

The sabre squad all finished in the top 75 out of 136 fencers during the Division I competition on Sunday. Junior Blessing Olaode placed 48th. Sophomore Kerry Plunkett and junior Jessica Rockford placed 73rd and 75th, respectively.

Sophomore Kennedy Lovelace was the Owls’ highest finisher in both the junior and Division I foil completions. She placed 32nd in the former and 64th in the latter. Freshman Megan Ross took 62nd in the junior bouts and 123rd in the Division I meet. Freshman Kari Weiner finished in 107th and 131st.

Junior Auset Muhammad was the only foil upperclassman who competed. She tied for 120th.

Junior epee Fiona Fong finished seventh in the epee classification tournament. She managed to tie for 149th in the Division I epee competition.

“These are tough competitions, and I think Fiona did a good job holding her own,” Franke said.

Freshman Marielle Luke and sophomore Camille Simmons finished 46th and 72nd respectively in the Division I epee competition. They also participated in the junior epee competition on Friday. Luke finished in 108th, while Simmons placed 39th out of 127 fencers.

Ally Micek and Quinn Duwelius also competed in the Division I epee event. The juniors finished 109th and 139th out of 172 fencers, respectively.

“A lot of the girls weren’t happy with their performances,” Franke said. “They all felt like they could have done better than what they placed. But it really wasn’t about placing high. I just wanted to see the girls get back to competing and help propel them into our meets coming up.”

The January NAC was the final NAC completion on Temple’s schedule. Now the Owls are entering “the heart of the schedule,” Franke said.

Temple had its first team meet on Dec. 3 against Vassar College, Harvard University, New York University, Sacred Heart University and Penn.

The Owls will resume team competition on Sunday against host Penn State, Columbia University, Yale University, Duke University and Haverford College.

“We are very excited to get into the dual meet portion of the season,” Franke said. “We fence better as a team. That is really our strength. Getting into the collegiate, competing between other schools, is something we really look forward to.”

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