As Nikki Franke examined the cleared out gym, all she could do was let out a sigh of relief, as the first day in the largest tournament of its kind concluded at the Student Pavilion. The 40-year head coaching veteran has seen Temple fencing at its finest moments and Saturday’s Temple Invitational may have been one of them.
The 33rd annual Temple Invitational has seen slightly less years than Franke, but is seasoned in its own right. The event features 26 schools and more than 600 fencers, making it the largest individual collegiate fencing competition in the country. In Saturday’s event, a sophomore, Tiki Kastor was able to best all the fencers in her weapon of choice, sabre, and win the host team a gold medal.
“I think I fenced really well today,” Kastor said. “This is probably one of my best results in a long time and I am really proud of myself.”
“We were very pleased [with our performance],” Franke said. “Our goal was to have a fencer in every final and we did. To win the sabor for [Kastor], that is the best result she has had, so we were very pleased.”
In addition to Kastor’s gold, junior Epiphany Georges and senior Mikayla Varadi earned silver and bronze, respectively, in foil. Junior Kimberly Howell was able to earn a bronze in epee, giving Temple a medal in each weapon.
In foil, freshmen Demi Antipas and Fatima Largaespada had top 10 finishes, as they placed 6th and 7th, while Olivia Wynn turned in a 30th place finish.
Senior captain, Jill Bratton competed in epee and finished seventh. Bratton will be looking to fill the void left by Kamali Johnson, who graduated after last season. Johnson holds the all-time record for most wins in sabre at Temple with 175 victories.
The competition is unusual in that it pits teammates against each other. While this ensures one fencer will record a victory, it also puts teammates in the awkward position of having to compete against each other, as Howell was forced to square off against junior Chantal Montrose in the second round.
“We ended up a lot of times pulling each other into direct elimination,” Franke said. “So we ended up eliminating each other, so that was very unfortunate. That’s horrible, but they all fenced hard and they all fenced well. I’m very pleased with every girl.”
The Temple Invitational is a two-day event, with the women competing on Saturday and the men competing on Sunday. Temple does not have a men’s varsity team, but its club team will compete in the tournament. The competition starts at 9 a.m. Sunday morning at the Student Pavilion.