Heading into Saturday’s competition at Temple, Penn State is not in good shape.
Despite being the No. 1 men’s team (20-0) and No. 5 women’s team (14-7), coach Emmanuil Kaidanov said the rankings practically ignore a bigger issue.
“Read between the lines,” Kaidanov said after telling of his team’s injuries, including men’s captain Adrian Bak and a slew of women.
On the women’s side, the fencing master said Nicole Glon (38-18), Kane Gladnick (18-9), Kylei McGill-Patterson (25-25) and former national champion Margherita Guzzi-Vincenti are just a few of the fencers banged up at the moment.
While many of the aforementioned fencers are managing to fight through their injuries, Guzzi-Vincenti, the greatest of the bunch, is likely to miss her second consecutive meet this weekend with a fractured pinky finger on her right hand.
“It’s getting better,” Kaidanov said, “but it’s not in the condition where she can go through 15 bouts or five bouts.”
The Italian initially fractured her finger about two weeks ago and has since practiced, however nothing positive came out of the practices.
“I tried on Monday to fence … and it hurt, so I had to stop,” Guzzi-Vincenti said. “On Tuesday, I had a lesson and I just held my weapon with my top four fingers. But when it comes to competition, you want to hold your weapon the proper way.”
But speaking hypothetically, the All-American never blatantly said she wouldn’t be open to competing this weekend.
“Just in case, let’s say, there’s an emergency and someone gets injured, I might try to step in if that’s the case,” Guzzi-Vincenti said.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Bak (21-8) is not as optimistic as Guzzi-Vincenti concerning his injury.
Bak double-rolled his ankle last week competing against Italy’s national team in a competition outside the program. He said there may be ligament damage, but he’s just thankful there are no breaks or fractures.
“I wish I could be there so bad, I was planning on it, I was so excited to keep that undefeated streak,” said Bak, who will not travel with the team this weekend in lieu of rehab.
Bak’s initial feelings after the roll was that he could be out for a while, thinking he would miss NCAA regionals, which start in two weeks.
“I was skeptical about [competing in regionals] at first, but now after all the X-rays and everything, my plan is to be back for regionals,” Bak said. “I’m working my butt off in rehab.”
In addition, the men’s team will be without a few fencers who are competing in a national match, including Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson (18-1).
Freshmen Shaul Gordon (18-5) and Nobuo Bravo (23-5) will be expected to pick up the slack.
With all absences considered, the Lions will have their hands full in Philadelphia, as opponents Princeton, St. John’s and Penn all boast top 10 men’s and women’s squads.