Four freshmen and one sophomore on the women’s fencing team had a great opportunity this weekend as they competed in the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships in Baltimore, Md.
The four freshmen, Demi Antipas, Olivia Wynn, Petra Khan and Jessica Hall as well as sophomore Lauren Rangel-Friedman went up against some of the best fencers in the country that are under the age of 20. While four of the five fencers had previously fenced in a national tournament, coach Nikki Franke said the girls get a good look at some of the best fencers in the country and it helps them moving forward.
“This is a national tournament, all the girls except for Olivia have all been here before,” Franke said. “You’re fencing against the best in your age group from all across the country so it definitely helps prepare for the collegiate season. We always try to fence the best competition.”
The Junior Olympic Championships is one of three tournaments that USA fencing uses to select the team that will eventually go to the Junior World Championships. Khan, a freshman sabre who finished the event in 64 out of 133 said it’s always a good to fence the top level of competition.
“The experience was good, you see the highest level of fencing in the country,” Khan said.
Khan, who was battling an arm injury heading into the event, struggled early on in the group stage but recovered eventually beating a former cadet (U17) national champion. The freshman from Beaverton, Ore., wound up losing in the direct elimination round to the fencer that would end up winning the sabre event, Claudia Kulmacz.
“At first it was kind of a struggle and I was battling an arm injury,” Khan said. “During direct elimination I beat a cadet national champion and ended up losing to the girl who won the whole thing.”
Hall, the only fencer on Temple’s roster who competed in the epee event at the Junior Olympic Championships finished 101th out of 181 participants. The freshman from New Jersey said the competition at the tournament was very high and a great experience.
“I was fencing girls from the junior world team so the competition was very high,” Hall said. “I could’ve done better but I was a strong competitor, I definitely gave them a good challenge.”
As a freshman Hall said her experience at the Junior Olympic Championships will only help her moving forward.
“We’ll fence against girls that we’ll see at future meets,” Hall said. “This event definitely prepares us for the rest of the season.”
For Temple, Antipas and Rangel-Friedman had the best showings overall. Antipas finished 39th out of 160 competitors in foil and Rangel-Friedman finished 35th out of 133 in the sabre competition. Rangel-Friedman, the lone sophomore entrant for the Owls in the event was allowed to participate because of her birthday. Wynn, a walk-on freshman from Somerville, N.J., finished 119th out of 160 fencers.
Temple as a team will compete Saturday, Feb. 23 at McGonigle Hall in the Temple Invitational. Temple will play host to Penn State, St. John’s, Duke, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. Four of the five teams Temple will play host to are ranked in the Top 10 and Duke, the only non-ranked team fell out of the poll after previously being ranked No. 10 in the coaches’ poll.
“The experience is excellent, you only get better by fencing the best,” Franke said. “That’s why we always try to bring in teams ranked in the Top 10 to fence against.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Bellino_Anthony.