This past weekend, the 25th Annual Temple Fencing Collegiate Open was held in McGonigle Hall. The event is the largest collegiate fencing event held in the United States.
It also kicks off the fencing season.
Schools from along the East Coast came to Temple to participate in the three different weapon events-foil, saber, and epee.
The women’s competition took place on Saturday, while the men competed on Sunday.
Senior Jeanne Browne, captain of the women’s team, showed off her talent and experience when she placed first in the foil event.
The win did not come easy for Browne, as she battled through a throbbing left shoulder in her final fight. Initially, she went down to the ground after being hit there.
Browne got back to her feet after a few minutes and shook off the injury for a victory.
“I was not worried,” she said. “I had tendonitis in my shoulder for the last four years. It really was just because it’s been a long day and it just cramped up.”
Temple had two other competitors finish in the top 12 of the foil event in juniors Jenna Remmert and Maryanne Forsythe. Remmert finished eighth and Forsythe finished 12th.
In the sabre event, senior Nnenna Okoro placed 20th, junior Keri Ecker 24th, freshman Kristine Jones 26th, sophomore Kaitlyn White 40th, and senior Amanda Gerwer 44th.
In the epee event, sophomore Rachel Eschenbach placed a respectable 25th.
“We have a fairly young team, so what I’m really looking for is just a lot of growth to happen this year,” said coach Nikki Franke, a Temple Hall of Famer and former Olympian. “I think the girls have started off very well in regard to how hard they’re working and the improvement I’m seeing already. It’s going to be a lot of construction. A lot of teaching is going to have to happen this year.”
Franke expects an improvement from last season, when the team finished 20-7 and ranked 12th in the country. She said qualifying for the postseason tournament is foremost in the Owls’ minds.
“I think [the goal for] all the girls this year is to qualify to the Regionals and to qualify for NCAA,” Franke said. “What we are hoping for as a team is to have a very good season. We have a very strong schedule. We’re fencing the top eight schools from last year’s NCAA so it’s really going to give us a really good sense of where we are and what we need to work on.”
She said another reason the team should be better is because of new assistant coach Bradley Baker, who previously coached the club fencing team at the University of Massachusetts.
Franke does not have anyone in mind to become captain when Jeanne Browne is gone, but hopes that everyone will show leadership and take responsibility for themselves and the team.
“I look at the whole team to be leaders and not just a couple of individuals,” she added.
With the season soon to be underway, Franke said, “the Temple Open showed what the team needs to work on and do to get ready. It got them into competitive mode.”
On Sunday, the men’s fencers tried to show that they belong in this tournament. Though less attention was given to them because they are a club, the men agreed the event was at least fun.
As a group, they said the Temple Open was one of the most enjoyable things they’d ever done, and that it was an amazing experience.
The team also agreed that Coach Franke motivates them by going to some of their practices, and she gives many tips.
She has helped whenever she could, they said, and is a great inspiration.
Over 400 fencers participated in the Temple Open, up from about 250 in 2003. Penn State was one of the biggest winners among the schools. The first-place winner in Women’s sabre, two of the top three of women’s foil, and two of the top five of women’s epee were all Nittany Lions. Penn State also boasted the first-place winners in men’s foil and men’s epee.
Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at the firstname.lastname@example.org.