Few people can say that they have been a member of a successful collegiate athletic team. An even smaller number can say they have been a member of a collegiate championship team. The number dwindles to three who can say they were actually a member of the very first NCAA team championship in Penn's history. One such man is Francis Bartone.
A fencing standout in high school, Bartone was captain of the team at
When Bartone arrived at Penn in 1950, the program was re-emerging from a six-year hiatus due to World War II. Under the tutelage of Maestro Lajos Csiszar, the Penn fencing program began to flourish. As a freshman, along with two varsity fencers, Bartone competed at the Philadelphia Open Divisional Three-Weapon Team Championship and defeated the fourth nationally-ranked epee fencer at the time. The team went on to win the
After joining the varsity team as a sophomore in 1951, Bartone earned All-America honors in sabre, finishing third in the individual competition at the National Intercollegiate Championships. At the Eastern Intercollegiate Championships he led the team to the sabre championship and finished third in the individual sabre competition. That year, Penn finished second at the National Intercollegiate three-man team championship and was fourth in the Eastern Intercollegiate nine-man championship.
As a junior in 1952, Bartone returned to fencing foil. His efforts paid off as Penn finished first in the Philadelphia Open Championship for the second time. The Quakers finished fourth at the National Intercollegiate Championship and fifth at the Eastern Intercollegiate Championship that year.
Bartone and the Red and Blue found even more success in 1953 with Bartone serving as captain. He helped the Quakers finish second overall in the all-important Eastern Intercollegiate Championships, as he led his weapon to the foil championship by finishing third individually. The Eastern Intercollegiate foil championship team is awarded the "Little Iron Man" trophy, the oldest trophy in collegiate athletics, and is still awarded today.
However, the highlight of the season came when Penn won the NCAA Fencing Championship, the first of three in the program's history. The team won 94 bouts, which is still a Penn record.
Bartone also earned another All-America honor, this time in foil. He finished second at the 1953 individual foil championship, marking the first time that a fencer had ever been named All-America in two different weapons. Bartone earned three varsity letters and helped the Quakers post an overall record of 24-4 in dual meets from 1951 to 1953.
After his collegiate career, Bartone continued fencing, going on to finish second at the North Atlantic Sabre Championships in 1958 and winning the event outright the following year. In 1966, he won the Oklahoma City Invitational Championship and the Southeastern Championship, both in sabre.