Weapons will clash this weekend when the women’s fencing team travels to Penn State University to compete in the Penn State Open.
At last year’s competition, Temple managed to send fencers into two of the three final rounds of competition.
Unfortunately, a sixth place finish by current junior Aziza Hassan in the sabre category was the highest ranking by an Owl.
A majority of the current remaining Owls placed within the top 20 and include: foil-junior squad leader Nerita Brummel (20th) and sophomores Jeanne Browne (14th) and Nennyana Okoro (17th); epee-juniors Stephanie Sargent (15th) Sara Forsythe (17th).
Seniors Sakinah Shaahid (24th) and Nicole Macomber (31st), and sophomore Amanda Gerwer (23rd) are the current Owls that competed in last year’s sabre competition.
The absence of a medal-winner can be attributed to nationally diverse competition the Penn State Open attracts.
While regional schools will be competing, the presence of midwest universities like the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, will be a factor in the outcome of the tournament.
Notre Dame sophomores Alicja Kryczalo and Andrea Ament took gold and silver, respectively, in last year’s foil competition. Kryczalo recently won gold at Northwestern’s annual Remenyik Open.
Carianne McCullough, who has since graduated, fought her way to gold for the Fighting Irish in the sabre division.
In the epee, the Lions dominated their den. Graduate Stephanie Eim and senior Jessica Burke won gold and silver, respectively.
This year, look for Temple sophomore Jeanne Brown to settle the score with PSU sophomore Meredith Chin, who defeated her in the foil competition at this year’s Temple Open.
More than anything, head coach Nikki Franke hopes the upcoming tournament will be a helpful evaluation for the team to let them know where they stand among some of the nation’s best teams.
“I’m looking forward to the tournament,” Franke said.
“We’ll be fencing against a lot of people we don’t usually get to fence against.
We’ll get a chance to see the different competition that we can look forward to later on in the season.”
This learning experience may regrettably come at too much of a cost for the Owls, whose young squad may be overwhelmed by the top ranked opposition.
Though pleased with the results at the Temple Open, Franke and head coach Zoila Palacio know that they will have to prepare their team for some very intense battle.
Both coaches are aware, however, that experience is the key to any team’s success.
In light of this, heavy preparations have been made to prepare the team for the challenge it is sure to face.
Practices since the Temple Open have consisted of two fencers dueling with the rest of the team looking on.
Analysis and discussion takes place during and after the bout to give the team the opportunity to dissect the different movement and strategies their fencing teammates used.
“What we do when we analyze a duel is try to recognize when something goes wrong,” Franke explained.
“Once we can figure this out, we try to determine the best possible way to get out of the bad situation.
“By doing this now in practice, the girls will be able to make quicker changes when actually fencing.”
By using this kind of strategical guidance, both coaches hope to send some Owls into the finals of the competition.
Still, coming away with a greater knowledge of how to fence against top competition will be more beneficial to the inexperienced team.
Steve Papurt can be reached at email@example.com.