October 31, 2003

Fencers Open Season

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This weekend, the fencing team will travel to Philadelphia, Penn., for its first tournament of the season.

The Temple Open has an annual field of 15 to 20 schools. The competitors usually include Temple University, University of North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke University, New York University, and Penn. The Red will be competing against these schools in the saber, epee, and foil categories.

“I never go into individual tournaments with expectations,” said head coach Al Peters.

Although there are no concrete predictions for this weekend, the Red can expect a solid performance in the epee category. The team returns sophomore Meghan Phair, who finished sixth in the nation in epee at last year’s NCAA championships and earned All-America honors. She was the first member of the Red to earn this honor in 25 years.

A large group of newcomers has added a great deal of enthusiasm and talent to the team, as the Red prepares for the 2003-04 season. Eight freshmen and one transfer student join an experienced core of upperclassmen.

Peters explained that fencing is a skill-intensive sport, and the best way to improve is to compete against as many people as possible. For this reason, pre-season practices have been focused on practice fights between members of the team and the men’s club team.

“Regardless of how hard you train, the more people you practice against, the better you will develop tactical skills,” Peters said of the team’s pre-season preparation.

Fencing is a unique sport in that it allows athletes to compete on an individual level while at the same time performing as a team. Each competitor will compete in matches against others in her category, and the team’s final standing will be a result of its collective performance.

“It’s about putting it all together when someone is in your face,” Peters said of competition. “We will see how [the team’s] hard work is shaking out.”

The Red can expect strong leadership from the team’s three senior captains in this weekend’s competition. Erica Wilhelm leads the epee athletes, Valerie DeRose is captain in the foil category, and Erin Conroy leads the Red’s saber competitors.

“This should be a very interesting year,” Peters said of the upcoming season. “They work well together as a team, even though there are so many newcomers.”

The team’s biggest weakness, according to Peters, is that because of its collective youth the team lacks college experience.

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer