Fencing Team to Host Penn State Invitational
Coming off the men’s team’s second place finish at the St. Johns Invitational last weekend, the Nittany Lions fencers hope for another good performance on Saturday in the Penn State Invitational. This weekend’s tournament, to be held in the White Building, will kick off at 8:30 a.m. as the Nittany Lions host squads from Penn, Duke, Drew, Haverford, Johns Hopkins, and UNC.
Both the Penn State men’s and women’s teams were ranked first in the most recent coaches’ poll, and they hope to carry that momentum into the close of the season. The fencers have won 12 national championships in the last 21 years, making it by far one of the most dominant programs at Penn State, and this year’s unit is in position to tack on lucky number 13 this year.
The Penn State squads face some solid opponents Saturday. The Penn men’s team ranked seventh in the most recent poll, and their women’s team was ninth. Duke’s men came in at eighth overall and their women in tenth. And North Carolina was an honorable mention, receiving votes, but not placing amongst the top ten in the nation.
The Nittany Lions didn’t have their best outing of the season in New York City last weekend, but the men were able to tie for second in the invitational at 3-2, though the women struggled to a 2-3 record. Coach Emmanuil Kaidanov said that the day’s bouts were “long and hard, putting [us] up against some of the top teams in the country.”
Captains Aleksander Ochocki and Margherita Guzzi-Vincenti will try and lead the team to victory on home turf after a much-needed week of rest. They faced some of the toughest competition in the country at the St. Johns Invitational in Notre Dame, Harvard, Ohio State, and the hosts–stiffer opposition than visits the White Building Saturday.
One of the fencers to keep an eye on is freshman Alina Antokhina, a newcomer who’s turning heads quickly. Along with eight teammates, she took part in the NAC Olympic trials last month in Kansas City. Brothers David and Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi are standouts in in foil. Ochocki, the men’s captain, is one of the team’s strongest fencers in sabre, as is Guzzi-Vincenti, the women’s captain, in épée. But senior Miles Chamley-Watson, who’s ranked as the number two fencer in the nation and 31st in the world, is taking a redshirt year, and currently in Paris training for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Expect a competitive tournament this weekend with plenty of great combat. It’s not very often that there’s an opportunity to see the fencing team in action as they spend most of their season on the road, so if you’re not busy this Saturday keep in mind that Penn State’s most successful team is in action on campus.
And if that’s not enough of a draw, there’s more: this event will be the fencing team’s Code Blue Blast for the season, meaning it’s worth three points as opposed to the usual one!