Once again, the Penn women’s fencing team will be among the elite in the Ivy League. However, what level they can attain is yet be determined. Coach Dave Micahnik returns an experienced team that has depth at two of the three weapons. He will look to his foil and epee teams to take his women to the top of the Ancient Eight this year.
The strength of the women’s fencing team the past few years has been the sabre. This year will be no different, as Micahnik expects them to be strong again. Two-time All-America Katelyn Sherry, Cassandra Frey and Annika Eiremo will lead the attack. Micahnik calls Sherry “A first-rank fencer.” She finished the 2004-05 season with a 51-8 record. Frey follows Sherry. “She is a reliable, steady and high-level fencer who wins a lot,” said Micahnik. Eiremo compiled a 24-2 record as a sophomore, including an undefeated record after January 30th. She battled some injuries last year but hopes to put those in the past once this season begins. “If she stays healthy she will be dominant,” said Micahnik. Freshman Cassandra Partyka will compete for a spot. She won the North Atlantic Sectional Juniors last year and Micahnik says, “she is already at a varsity level.”
The epee is a strong team with a wealth of experience that will look to a few newcomers as well. All-American Holly Buechel returns as the number one fencer for the epee. She was 47-12 overall and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships. Juniors Jackie Schramm, Margaret Foster, and sophomore Angelika Kyrimi also return to the epee. Schramm has the most experience from last year; her record was 35-24. Foster and Kyrimi will look to solidify the epee with their experience.
Micahnik expects big things from freshmen at the epee. Ana Gutierrez-Colina and Kristen Hughes will have an opportunity to see time this year. Micahnik expects them to put pressure on others and battle for spots.
The foil might be the strongest group on the women’s team. Micahnik expects the foil to compete with the class of the Ivy League and be the key to many team victories this season. Zoya Abdikulova, Eve Overton and Grace Wilson all return. Abdikulova was limited by a knee injury last year but managed an impressive 23-19 record in her rookie campaign. Overton placed fourth at the NCAA Regionals and advanced to the NCAA Championships last year while becoming a mainstay on the team after being a reserve as a freshman. Wilson split time between foil and epee last year, but Micahnik will use the sophomore strictly in foil this year.
The foil also welcomes two highly ranked National Juniors this year, freshmen Abigail Emerson and Ilana Sinkin. Micahnik is happy to have both of them and expects their experience to pay off as freshmen.
This year the team will be able to rely on the epee and foil teams for their depth and strength. With the experience of Buechel and Abdikulova along with the depth provided by Foster, Kyrimi, Overton, Schramm, Wilson and a group of promising freshmen they should have the ability to compete with the best. With a good sabre team that Micahnik expects to be strong again, his women’s team could overtake Columbia and Harvard. Micahnik is very optimistic about his team’s chances this year.