When sophomore foilist Anna Novoseltseva walked into Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, home of the 2023 NCAA Fencing Championships, she knew that she belonged on the biggest stage, among the best of the best.
The competition was the second appearance for Novoseltseva at the NCAA championships, an impressive feat for a fencer who is only in their sophomore year.
At the 2023 NCAAs, Novoseltseva finished No. 22 after she won six bouts. While it may seem like it was a similar performance to last year, where she won six bouts and finished No. 21, the competition was a success in Novoseltseva’s eyes because of the effort she put in.
“I worked really hard to get there and I’m happy I made it the second year,” Novoseltseva said. “It proves that I do belong instead of last year. I’m thinking, ‘Was it a lucky shot?’ But this year I’m like ‘Yeah, I do belong here.’”
Returning for a second year with a sense of belonging and knowing what to expect helped Novoseltseva’s confidence and made her feel much more comfortable during the bouts.
“Last year I really didn’t know what to expect, but this year I had an idea of how much pressure was going to be put on me,” Novoseltseva said. “I came in more confident and I was happy I went last year so I could know what to expect.”
Temple head coach Jennie Salmon saw Novoseltseva last year at the NCAAs and knew of her when she took the head coaching position, but was still amazed by the attitude and skill that Novoseltseva possessed.
“I knew what a strong athlete she was and she was a very strong athlete for the program,” Salmon said. “It was very impressive what she did, qualifying through the mid-atlantic region is right now the hardest to qualify through and to see her accomplish that two years in a row is really impressive.”
Novoseltseva’s motivation can be attributed in large part to her older sister, Liza Novoseltseva, who is a junior foilist on Temple Fencing.
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the sisters’ bond strengthened as they competed in club fencing against each other, making each other better fencers every day.
They both began fencing around the same time and Anna eventually committed to Temple because Liza was already there.
Her older sister, who has slightly more experience on the collegiate level, has helped Anna because she has someone to look to for advice.
“When Anna came in her first year, I kind of just let her know what to expect, what to be careful of and just the whole atmosphere of college fencing because it is so different from club,” Liza said.
Anna and Liza already have a very strong bond as sisters that only grows while competing on the same team. Both of them are foilists and Liza is the squad leader for that sword, meaning they spend a lot of practice directly competing and learning from one another.
The sisters are not only each other’s biggest competitors on the strip, they’re also each other’s biggest supporters.
Liza has failed to qualify for the NCAAs for the last two years, but that has not stopped her from being the biggest Anna fan there is. From waking up at 6 a.m. to watch Anna’s bouts, or screaming in the library at her computer screen, Liza is always supporting Anna.
“I felt like she had a really big impact on me the last two years because I could look at my phone and see a nice message and I could take her advice and put it into my next bout,” Anna said. “It was like she was there with me which was really nice.”
With two years left to compete and at least one more with her sister, Novoseltseva has very high expectations for herself and feels positive pressure from her teammates.
“I want to make it back to NCAAs and do better than I did the first two years,” Novoseltseva said. “I feel like I didn’t live up to my own expectations so I hope to do better. I want to keep working towards All-American.”