Temple’s fencing team grabbed their foils and traveled to Illinois to compete in the annual Northwestern Tournament, where they finished a successful 7-3 finish.
Usually held in January, the tournament featured 13 teams, 12 of which competed in the women’s division. Temple faced five teams on Saturday and five on Sunday.
The Owls defeated Detroit-Mercy, Wayne State, Cleveland State, Michigan, Fairleigh Dickinson, North Carolina and demolished Lawrence. Losses to Ohio State, Northwestern and Notre Dame kept the Owls from achieving the same success they had at last year’s tournament when they went 9-1.
Coach Zoila Palacio was not concerned with the decline in the team’s performance and emphasized that it was still early in the season. She recognized the tournament was a good opportunity for her squad to gain some valuable experience on a competitive level.
“There is an advantage in going to Northwestern this early,” Palacio said. “You get to see what you need to work on and can prepare more for post season action.”
She also noted the passion emanating from her fencers and believed many of the scores did not reflect the intensity of the close bouts.
“Bouts that ended 5-4 could have gone either way really,” Palacio said. “None of the girls gave up and they forced their opponents to work for every point.”
Despite the intense atmosphere, many of the Owls felt apprehensive going into such an important competition this early in the season.
“It was nerve-wracking for everyone,” captain Sara Forsythe said.
The senior went 19-3 in the epee division and relied on her teammates for support.
“In the end, it comes down to a team effort,” Forsythe said. “We all look out for each other. We even keep tabs on each other’s school work.”
Also in epee, senior Stephanie Sargent finished 14-8, sophomore Keri Ecker finished 7-13 and freshman Rachel Eschenbach ended the meet 8-6.
Disappointed in her 14-6 outing, sabre squad leader Aziza Hassan blamed a lack of mental execution on her part.
“I wasn’t moving my feet,” Hassan said. “That’s very important in sabre because the weapon stresses mobility. I was telling myself what to do but I just wasn’t doing it.”
The senior did not seem worried about her performance, but said she would not be satisfied until she is fencing the best way she knows how.
Rounding out the sabre squad was junior Nnennaya Okoro who finished 12-14 and freshmen Lauren Riesebeck and Kaitlyn White who finished 13-13 and 8-4, respectively.
The foil squad further solidified the Owls’ presence on the strip with its finish. Senior squad leader Nerita Brummel finished 10-9, junior Jeanne Browne finished 10-7, and sophomores Jenna Remmert and Maryanne Forsythe fought to 17-3 and 14-2, respectively. Freshman Leigh Adel-Arnold stepped up and defeated all of her opponents to earn a perfect 10-0 record.
Remmert has taken extra measures to improve her game. The weekend of Nov. 8-9 she competed in the Junior World Cup in Louisville, Ky., and finished 42nd out of a field of 53.
“I wanted to get more experience on a national level,” Remmert said, who accomplished her goal of making it out of the first round of the competition.
“Jenna’s game is really strong,” Palacio said. “This was an excellent competition for her and helped her sharpen skills.
The four freshmen’s combined results from this past weekend look very promising at 39-23. Palacio was eager to get the team back home and begin practice after giving them a taste of collegiate competition.
The Owls’ next event is the Penn State Open this weekend at State College.
Steve Papurt can be reached at email@example.com.