‘Tis the season… Not to be jolly, but rather to be fencing.
Temple’s fencing team has once again begun its quest for greatness and respect. You may not know it, but Temple women’s fencing team is considered to be pretty good in the eyes of their competitors — really good.
The Owls began the road to the NCAA Championships began with a competition at McGonigle Hall, with some new faces on board, along with the same fire and intensity that has become something of a trademark with the team.
Temple belongs to the National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association (NIWFA) and the Mid Atlantic South Region conference. Last year, the team finished with a 17-7 record, as well as a first-place showing at the NIWFA Championships. The Owls also qualified three fencers for the NCAAs.
This year, Temple’s biggest obstacle may be the re-building process.
The fencing team lost three great leaders to graduation last year: Marta Knight, Erica Wilder and Cathy Demarco. All three fencers provided a lot of depth for the team, as shown in the individual records. To balance the loss, the fencing team added eight new competitors to their roster. All except one had fencing experience while in high school.
The new additions to the team include Nerita Brummell (foil), Maggie Castellano (foil), Stephanie Sargent (epee), Kristen Hatchman (epee), Sara Forsythe (epee), Sakinah Shaahid (sabre), Aziza Hassan (sabre), and Quyne Rider (sabre).
Along with the newcomers are some familiar faces, perhaps as a wiser much stronger contingent of fencers. The returning roster includes junior Julia Korony (Epee), senior Jaime Beecher (foil), senior Gina DeIeso (foil), junior Stephanie Izzolino (foil), junior Sara Ironman (saber), and sophomore Nicole Macomber (saber). DeIeso and Beecher will captain the team.
Although it is very early into the season, coach Zoila Palacio believes the team is working very hard.
“This is a rebuilding year for the team,” Palacio said. ” College is different from high school fencing, but once (the new fencers) adjust, they’ll do very well.”
The time frame for the adjustment remains to be seen. The schedule has the team competing against top-ranked opponents on various occasions during the season. For some teams, this would seem to be a risky move, but not when it comes to the Temple fencing squad.
“We did this purposely to get better,” Palacio said. “Fencing strong opponents and nationally ranked schools is the only way you can get better.”
Temple’s key competitions include the Penn State Invitational on Nov. 11, The Christmas Invitational at Farleigh Dickinson University on Dec. 14, and the Alumnae Meet at McGonigle Hall on Jan. 7.
With the determination that propelled them into high ranking last season, the Temple women’s fencing team could be ringing the bells of victory in the end.