Amidst the chaos that is March Madness, it’s easy to forget that other college sports teams are concluding their seasons and competing in national competitions.
Temple’s fencing team finished its season at the NCAA National Championship at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Col. last weekend.
The Owls placed 13th in the team standings with 44 points and seventh among women’s teams. Senior Sakinah Shaahid and junior Azizza Hassan garnered All-America honors.
“We were very pleased with our performance,” Temple fencing coach Nikki Franke said. “They battled constantly and in the end that’s all you can do.”
In a post St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Notre Dame grasped its pot of gold and won the 2003 national championship.
The Fighting Irish edged out rival Penn State, 182-179 and reclaimed the title after nearly a decade.
The Lions had a stranglehold on the nation fencing title for some time. St. John’s was the last team to unseat Penn State, back in 2001.
The standings were based on individual and team results.
Because this was both a men’s and women’s event, a team’s score was derived from combined results.
The Owls as a team were already at a handicap because they have no male fencers, but Franke only concerned herself with the results of the women’s portion.
A total of 31 schools across the nation sent 144 fencers to the competition.
Each weapon had a field of 24 fencers, and each victory for an individual fencer counted as one point toward the team total.
The first day of the competition featured a round robin tournament where, after teammates fenced each other, fencers were split up into groups of three and sent into battle against each other.
Shaahid had the highest ranking of any Owl, placing ninth in sabre while Hassan ended the day right behind her in 11th.
In foil, sophomore Jeanne Browne and freshman Jenna Remmert finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.
The lone Owl epeeist, junior Sara Forsythe, finished her first day ranked 22nd.
Franke admitted the first day had not gone the way Temple had hoped, but remained confident in her team’s strength and determination, two defining characteristics of the team’s performance this past season.
“The girls worked hard through intense and grueling competition,” Franke said.
Day two was kinder to the Owls, even as the competition intensified.
Shaahid improved to a seventh place finish with 14 victories while Hassan held firm to 11th place with 12 victories.
As a result, Shaahid was named to the All-America second team and Hassan to the All-America third team.
After earning first team All-America honors the past two years, Shaahid wasn’t disappointed with her last collegiate performance.
“I had nothing to prove,” Shaahid said. “I had done what I wanted to do in the past years, so (a spot on the all-America second team) wasn’t too big a deal.”
In fact, Shaahid was surprised to make any All-America team. She confessed she had no idea a second and third team even existed.
Browne dropped two places to end up in 23rd with three victories.
Remmert improved her ranking to 18th with five victories, a decent finish for the freshman.
Wanting to represent her epee sisters back in Philadelphia, Forsythe fought her way back from the brink of finishing last to finish 16th with 10 victories.
Steve Papurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.