Senior fencers reflect on their final season at Temple.
The Owls hosted the Temple Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 25, at McGonigle Hall, giving four seniors their final opportunity to fence in front of a home crowd. The gym also saw a number of national powerhouses compete, while No. 7 Temple defeated No. 5 St. Johns, 16-11.
Temple (24-8) concluded the day with a 2-2 record after beating No. 11 Duke to avenge an earlier loss this season. The Owls would lose to No. 2 Penn State and No. 3 Princeton 7-20 and 9-18, respectively.
The day had additional implications for the Owls’ four seniors, sabre squad leader Kamali Thompson, foil squad leader Alyssa Lomuscio, foil competitor Danielle Jones and epee competitor Krystal Jones.
“Today really was a bitter-sweet day,” coach Nikki Franke said. “We really are going to miss [the seniors]. They contributed so much to our program and they are always going to be a part of our Temple family.”
Perhaps the most notable senior fencing for her last time at home was Thompson, the team captain and all-time leader in sabre wins at the school. Thompson has fenced all four of her collegiate years at Temple and last year qualified and placed 15th in the nation and 16th at the Junior World Cup in Germany.
“Last year I was traveling internationally and doing a lot of things that made me a lot better,” Thompson said. “I beat a lot of people who I wasn’t expected to beat and I think I really surprised everyone.”
The experience gained in national and international play has led Thompson to become a driving force for Temple’s hopes at winning the National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association Championships, something they have done 16 consecutive years.
Thompson’s play has not gone unappreciated by her coach and teammates.
“[Thompson’s] fencing has grown, her maturity has grown,” Franke said. “She really has become a leader on our team and has done a very good job of leading us this year. We are going to miss that leadership.”
Thompson attended and fenced at Teaneck High School, N.J. along with Danielle Jones and Krystal Jones. Thompson has been fencing with Danielle Jones for eight years straight, a mark almost unheard of in collegiate athletics.
“[Thompson] has grown up so much,” Danielle Jones said. “Seeing her now is completely different. She is so much more responsible, she is confident on the strip and is a leader and you can see that.”
Danielle Jones and Krystal Jones make up the team’s only group of twins and although Krystal Jones is graduating with the other seniors, this was her first and last year fencing with Temple. Krystal Jones, who fenced with Danielle Jones and Thompson in high school, chose to attend the University of Massachusetts but transferred to Temple after one semester.
“I wanted a break, I fenced a lot in high school and I wanted some time off,” Krystal Jones said. “I was crossing Broad [Street] and I saw coach Franke and she asked me to come into her office. She said that she needed another epee fencer and I took a couple lessons and joined the team.”
Krystal Jones, who fenced foil in high school, had to make the adjustment to epee and she began to immediately contribute to the team in the span of a couple months.
“[Krystal Jones] did really well, she was good in high school and I definitely expected her to do well,” Thompson said. “Besides fencing, it boosted her confidence a lot and her whole personality changed. She became a lot warmer and a lot more confident.”
While the regular season is completed, postseason play will begin for the team with the NIWFA Championships on March 3 at Swarthmore. Individuals on the team can also qualify for additional competitions at the regional and national levels.
“The commitment and their commitment to this team has impressed me the most,” Franke said. “They made this team the best it could be and I am very proud of them.”
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at Ibrahim.email@example.com.