Senior sabre places first in regional competition for Temple Fencing

Blessing Olaode won first place in the sabre competition at Saturday’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional meet at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Junior sabres Blessing Olaode (left) and Jessica Rockford fence during practice at the Student Pavilion on Thursday. | ALEX ST. CLAIR / FILE PHOTO

Temple University’s fencing sabre squad won the squad title and senior Blessing Olaode won first place in the individual sabre competition at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional on Saturday at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Olaode finished 8-3 on Saturday to clinch her first appearance in the NCAA Championships, which will take place March 23 and 24 in Cleveland.

“It was very exciting to have [Olaode] fence so well,” coach Nikki Franke said. “Especially because she’s a senior and last year she was an alternate, so she was close. It was nice to see her achieve one of her goals this year.”

Olaode was one of four Owls to advance to the final round of the regional competition. Junior Kerry Plunkett placed fourth in the sabre competition. Junior Kennedy Lovelace finished third in the foil competition. Sophomore foil Megan Ross finished 12th.

“We were very happy for them,” Franke said. “They fenced very strong to be able to get to the final. They were able to work together and help each other throughout the final, which was really nice.”

Sophomores Eva Hinds and Marielle Luke were one spot short of appearing in the final round for their respective weapons. Hinds placed 13th in the sabre competition and Luke finished 13th in the epee competition.

A total of 12 fencers represented Temple at regionals. The sabre, foil and epee squads each sent four fencers.

Plunkett, Lovelace and junior sabre Malia Hee represented Temple in last season’s NCAA Championships. Lovelace finished seventh and earned All-American Second Team honors. Hee placed 13th and Plunkett placed 22nd.

Temple can send two more fencers along with Olaode to the NCAA Championships. The selections for the championships will be announced on Tuesday.

“The three girls will be representing us and the team has to be excited for them,” Franke said. “One of the things we’ve worked towards all year is to get as many people to the championships as possible. We’re very pleased to possible have three people qualify.”

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