Junior epee Safa Ibrahim and freshman sabre Kerry Plunkett will represent Temple at the 2017 National Collegiate Women’s Fencing Championships this weekend in Indianapolis.
It’s Ibrahim’s third consecutive crack at the tournament, while Plunkett is her making her debut at the championship.
There will be 24 fencers for each weapon, split across four regions. Two at-large bids were awarded for each weapon. Temple’s region, the Mid-Atlantic/South, will send 20 fencers to the championship.
Ibrahim finished in 16th place at the championship in the 2014-15 season and 17th in the 2015-16 season.
“In terms of what I’m capable of, I think I can do a lot better,” she said. “Now that I have two years of experience being there, I think I can use that to my advantage and hopefully do a lot better than previous years.”
Ibrahim added she’s been working extensively on her mental game leading up to the championship by meditating for six minutes each night before she goes to bed. It helps her focus in the moment, she said.
Ibrahim occasionally meditated before fencing tournaments prior to enrolling at Temple. She made it part of her routine during her freshman year when she posted a career-best dual meet record of 72-28.
On top of meditation, Ibrahim packed her bags for a trip up Interstate 95 last week to train at The Peter Westbrook Foundation in Manhattan to prepare for the championship. She’s been working on her cardio and touch, she said.
Ibrahim also plans on guiding Plunkett in her first experience at the NCAA championship.
“I would tell her to always keep fighting,” Ibrahim said. “You have to always be in it and never get discouraged if you’re losing.”
Ibrahim added that it is important to stay focused through the long weekend.
Coming into her freshman season at Temple, Plunkett was open-minded and she plans to approach the championships the same way.
Although Plunkett did make the championships, she will be attending them without freshman sabre Malia Hee, her teammate from the PDX Fencing club in Beaverton, Oregon. The two set a goal for themselves at the beginning of the season to reach the NCAA championships.
Despite not making the NCAA championships, Hee has been helping Plunkett prepare at the PDX Fencing club. The pair of west coast fencers worked together every day last week during Spring break.
Plunkett said she’s had private lessons with her former coach Charles Randall every day. They’ve been working on her hand speed, so that she has a wide variety of moves in her arsenal during the NCAA championships. She’s also been working with a personal trainer at the club during the week.
“We’re really excited to represent Temple in the NCAA championships, to have our name out there, and I think it’s going to be a great experience for both Kerry and Safa,” coach Nikki Franke said.
Tom Ignudo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ignudo5.