PHILADELPHIA - The No. 7 Penn men's fencing team begins its 2011 season by hosting eight schools on Saturday in the Philadelphia Invitational, beginning at 10 a.m. in Hutchinson Gymnasium.
The Quakers face six of a possible seven foes, matching up with ninth-ranked Duke, Drew, Haverford, NJIT, North Carolina and Sacred Heart during the all-day event. Last year the Red and Blue were unbeaten, fencing to a perfect 5-0 record. Penn's closest match was against North Carolina, dominating foil 8-1 to squeak by the Tar Heels 14-13. Junior Alex Simmons went 12-1 overall and Zane Grodman was also impressive in foil, winning ten times and losing just once on the day.
The Red and Blue enter the weekend with a youthful lineup, especially in sabre. The Quakes return just one of their top three sabreists from last year in sophomore Evan Prochniak. Prochniak went 31-5 in dual matches last year and was also an honorable mention All-America selection. Senior Benjamin Bell went 19-18 last year while freshmen Michael Mills and Elliot Tusk will counted upon to earn some victories. Mills finished fourth and Tusk placed 11th against some of the nation's top talent in the Penn State Open during the fall.
Penn's foil lineup boasts the most experience, as three fencers won at least 20 matches last year. Senior Zane Grodman went 20-12 while juniors Vidur Kapur and Alex Simmons each had 29 victories. Kapur and Simmons were also All-America and All-Ivy selections a year ago. Senior Jacob Wischnia is the leader of epee and will be joined by junior Steven Jow and freshman Clifford Fishler. Wischnia went 28-16 and made an appearance in the NCAA Championships while Jow was 23-19 a season ago.