The Temple Invitational marked not only the last regular season meet on Penn State’s schedule, but it also became the location for a couple of uncommon first events for the men and women’s teams.
The biggest surprise proved to be the No. 1 men’s undefeated season coming to an end when they lost to No. 8 Penn, 16-11.
The men’s team wasn’t at full strength with two of its top fencers, David Willette and Miles Chamley-Watson, competing in an international competition this weekend instead.
Junior and team captain Adrian Bak was also unable to travel with the team because of an ankle injury, but he is trying to help the team put its only loss behind them.
“I was pretty bummed, but at the same time you got to move on,” Bak said. “In about less than two weeks we have an important NCAA qualifier so you got to just focus on that and forget about the past and just move on.”
The men still finished the day with a strong 3-1 record against schools that were all nationally ranked in the top 10 to cap off an impressive 23-1 regular season record.
The injury bug also plagued the women as they competed without key fencers like Margherita Guzzi Vincenti, who is still recovering from a fractured finger she suffered two weeks ago.
The shorthanded women’s team had a rough meet, going 0-4 on the day, the first time it failed to record a win at a dual meet all year.
“The fact that everyone was recovering from past injuries was probably the key why we didn’t do so well this weekend,” Guzzi Vincenti said,
Although this may not have been the way both the men and women were looking to end their regular season, it does not take away from the strong regular seasons that both teams had.
With the dual meet part of the season in the books, the whole team is now focusing on the most important part of its season in two weeks — the NCAA Regionals.
Starting with Regionals, fencers will now only be competing on an individual basis in order to qualify and then advance through the NCAA tournament.
Even though there are no more team meets, the fencers say that this will not change their team mindset.
“Yeah you’re fencing individually but at the same time you’re still helping your team,” Bak said. “So if you’re doing well for yourself, you’re doing well for the team.”
The higher the number of Penn State fencers that qualify for the NCAA tournament, the better chance the team as a whole has at winning the national championship.
The Lions are confident that by having their last dual meet of the season also be the toughest it will make them better prepared for Regionals this year.
“We fenced a lot of strong fencers before so we already have a feel for how these things go,” sophomore David Gomez-Tanamachi said. “It definitely helps in the sense that you kind of know what to expect and you have to be ready to fence against those schools.”