This upcoming Saturday, the Red fencing team won’t be dressing up in spooky costumes or putting on crazy makeup. No, the Red will be making a trip down to Philadelphia where they will compete in the the Temple Open meet. The Open features many of the top fencerss in the nation, and will be a great test to open the year for Cornell.
The Temple Open meet, hosted by Temple University in Philadelphia, is an individual meet, but Cornell’s team makes the trip every year to compete together against hundreds of collegiate fencers from across the East coast. Last year at the meet, Cornell had their best showing yet, with three women earning medals at the event.
“The Temple Open is a great tournament because it gives us a chance to showcase how hard we’ve worked in preseason and the first few weeks of official practices,” said senior captain Angelica Gangemi. “Everyone on the team has been very dedicated to their training, and I’m confident that we will have a successful weekend.”
While the team has certainly been training hard in the offseason and preseason leading up to this weekend, the Temple Open will be their first opportunity to have a good competitive fencing experience in the largest individual collegiate meet in the United States.
“Each year the idea is to come in and face a marathon of fencing to the best of one’s ability,” said head coach Iryna Dolgikh, speaking about the meet’s unique opportunities. “Due to the nature of the sport, at some point, our athletes often end up fencing each other in this open event to get ahead, so there are a variety of challenges one has to overcome and it truly becomes a test of a fencer’s character.”
This season may be a true test of the varsity team’s character, as for the first time in years, Cornell will be hosting a home tournament, and a major one at that: the Ivy League Championship meet in February. Last season the Red went 2-4 within the Ancient Eight, and this year when Cornell’s rival schools come to Ithaca to compete, the team wants to make a statement.
“Preseason and our executive plan for the entire season in terms of training, has been affected by the preparation to be the hosts of the Ivy Championships in February 2016,” said Dolgikh. “It is really providing the team an extra vigor to set our minds on the goal to take down some powerhouses within the Ivy League conference, which is the toughest conference to be a part of and it has been such for decades.”
The Ivy League is definitely one of the national powerhouses in fencing, so the women’s team will need to bring their A-game once the meet comes around this February. Fortunately, the team did not graduate many seniors last spring, and brought in multiple new impressive recruits. Meanwhile, longtime performers such as Angelica Gangemi, junior Victoria Wines, and senior Ediona Sera will be sure to step up for the Red. Gangemi has been a pivotal fencer for the team since her freshman season, and is now a captain for the team.
“The legacy I want to leave for the team is to simply to be an example of what you can accomplish through hard work, dedication and resilience,” Gangemi said. “Fencing is such a tough sport mentally, in addition to physically. It’s easy to get bogged down in the sport, especially when you add on academics and other stresses that accompany the life of a Cornell student.”
Gangemi will certainly leave a strong legacy on the program; she and fellow Class of 2016 varsity athlete Luke Hagy were recipients of the prestigious Richie Moran honoring outstanding senior student athletes at Cornell.
Before looking too far ahead to consider her legacy, however, Gangemi said she is focusing on this upcoming season.
“I am excited to see what the team will accomplish this year,” Gangemi said. “ Each year, we get stronger. The upperclassmen and returning fencers are all very talented. And we have an amazing class of freshman that I think will help the team earn the victory in tough matches.”